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About The Starting Block



We are a nonprofit, regional economic development organization committed to small business development initiatives – for businesses just starting out, or companies outgrowing their current facilities.



To incubate and support the entrepreneurial spirit, in the food systems and natural resources sector, by providing licensed commercial kitchen facilities, entrepreneurial education and peer-to-peer networking to new and expanding businesses in the multi-county, West Central Michigan region.



The Starting Block is a place for small business owners to learn more about the technical aspects of food production and receive assistance in:

  • Product Development
  • Ingredient Sourcing
  • Packaging and Labeling
  • UPC Coding
  • Shelf-life Information
  • Nutritional Analysis Information
  • Marketing Strategies and More

Read the history of The Starting Block

The Starting Block offers:

  • A Commercial Kitchen – The shared-use commercial kitchen helps meet food processing needs at low hourly rental rates. 
  • USDA-Inspected Meat Processing Facility
  • Office Rental – Office rental includes wireless internet access, local phone, conference room, and business support. 
  • Education – Small business management, networking, and individual business guidance are offered, along with Entrepreneurship, Small Business Management, and Marketing classes.
  • Equipment – Tenants receive training and have access to commercial ovens, freezers, ranges, mixers, kettles, industrial food processors, and more.
  • Licenses – The shared-use kitchen is licensed and approved by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
  • Product Development – Technical advice is offered on food production, pH levels, batch-up recipes, and packaging and labeling.
  • Warehouse & Storage – Refrigerator, freezer, and dry pallet storage is available for rent.


Community Partners – Initial funding for The Starting Block came from a federal USDA Rural Development grant, and state grants from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and MIFFS.  Without these partners, The Starting Block could not operate.


Starting Block Rates

Check the fee schedule for more details.


Download The Starting Block monthly Food Safety Updates newsletters, featuring Starting Block clients.

June 2011 - Featuring SUYA West African Kabobs, food safety tips, and tips to reduce the risk of Salmonella.

August 2011 - Featuring Wee Bee Jammin', handwashing tips, and tips for ready to eat (RTE) foods.

November 2011 - Featuring Good Life Granola and food safety checks.

January 2012 - Featuring B&B Farms Canola Oil, food safety reminders, and risk factors in food prep.

April 2012 - Featuring Suzi-Q's Pasties, handwashing tips, and health and hygiene in the kitchen.

November 2012 - Featuring Mother Mary's Canning Co., our new USDA meat processing facility, and handwashing checks.

January 2013 - Featuring El Cardenal Salsa, USDA information links, our graduates, and tips on when to change gloves.


What Our Clients Say:

Big Thanks!

"On behalf of all of us at Parallel 45 Enterprises, I just want to thank you for working so diligently at lending a big hand to us and to all the entrepreneurs at The Starting Block with opportunities such as we had with Meijer. It’s safe to say that the work you so lovingly devote to small business in this State is noticed by few, however many will reap the rewards of your work and vision. "

"Thank you for thinking outside the box, for relentlessly seeking ways to promote, provide opportunity, and educate those of us who just plain love the challenge of seeking success. (Success being defined as an opportunity to bring a sense of joy to others while hopefully helping some live a better, more fulfilled life."

"You folks are the gardeners, we’re the seeds. If we all do our best, the harvest will be great!"

Gene Van Kouvering
Uncle Gene's Backwoods Pretzels

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