Starting Block diversifies model to offer training, services to existing food companies by John Wiegand
After operating for a decade, The Starting Block has helped the West Michigan craft food movement grow from an idea into the fledgling industry it is today. When it opened in 2006, the Hart-based kitchen incubator was the first of its kind in the state, offering a full complement of commercial kitchen equipment, storage and office space. Now, 10 years later, the incubator is preparing to adapt to shifts in the food processing industry.
CEO, You by Karen Edwards
Every week for more than three years, Josie Lomonaco, 58, packed her car with boxes of flour, sugar, eggs and butter. She drove more than an hour from her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to the small town of Hart, home of The Starting Block, a commercial "kitchen incubator," a launch-pad for nascent food businesses. There she baked batch after batch of her Sicilian cookies, tender confections made from an old family recipe.
Starting Block looks to expand with meat kitchen by John Cavanagh
With a United States Department of Agriculture license for developing meat-based products, the Starting Block kitchen incubator plans to construct a separate building for further development at its facility in the Hart Industrial Park in Hart.
The Starting Block has submitted its zoning application to the City of Hart for the proposed 32-by-40-foot building to be built off the south face of the building near the parking lot.
Giving 'em the business by Mary Beth Crain
Situated in the Hart Industrial Park off of Polk Road is an operation that's officially known as a kitchen incubator. But to those who have taken advantage of its offerings, it's more of a dream factory.
The Starting Block, "West Michigan's non-profit regional kitchen incubator and entrepreneurial center," is a place where budding entrepreneurs come to get help in everything from product development and ingredient sourcing to marketing strategies, licensing, office rental and anything else a food startup needs to, well, get cooking.
Keepin' It Real by Gail Knudtson
Busy as a bee, Simone Scarpace has been making jam with hand-picked Michigan fruit for over 30 years and decided to put it to market in 2008.
“Wee do have fun with the business,” she says of their family enterprise in Bear Lake called Wee Bee Jammin’. “Wee have passion for what we do,” she quips. Simone and her husband Ken enjoy traveling while making jam deliveries to their customers throughout the state, including annual trips to the U.P to pick thimbleberries, blueberries and other wild varieties that grace Michigan’s northern woods.
Program Helps Entrepreneurs Defy the Statistics: Entrepreneurial training program comes to Hart, MI
Despite passion, drive and an abundance of good ideas, half of all new businesses fail within the first few years. Often that's because, despite their zeal, entrepreneurs lack the experience and tools required to effectively start and grow businesses.
Entrepreneurs in Oceana County now have a secret weeapon that increases their chances for success: FastTrac®, a comprehensive family of programs that help entrepreneurs hone the skills they need to create, manage and grow successful businesses.
Incubating Passion: Hart's Starting Block Kitchen Incubator helps businesses test ideas by Jennifer Linn Hartley
Last Wednesday Dee and Mike Freestone, owners of Good Life Granola, won a Start Up to Watch award at the Making It In Michigan conference in Lansing. On Thursday they were back in Hart whipping up another batch of their award-winning granola.
Starting Block Successes
The Starting Block, Inc. (SBI) just celebrated their fifth anniversary as West Michigan's regional kitchen incubator and entrepreneurial center. SBI has assisted 59 new businesses in preparing for and receiving Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) licenses to produce food products for sale in the marketplace.
Lomonaco Sicilian Cookies are becoming popular in West Michigan by Mary Radigan
Josie Lomonaco's mother would be pleased her daughter has put the family's Sicilian cookies out for public consumption. From sales in nine area retial stores to holidays and private affairs such as weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties and other events, the Lomonaco Sicilian Cookie Co.'s gourmet cookies are becoming popular in the area.
"This would warm her heart, and she would be so proud of the direction this has gone," said Lomonaco, as she and her husband, John Lomonaco, today were to expand the business further with the launch of a website.
The Starting Block: A Case Study of an Incubator Kitchen
Through this case, we explore the strategic challenges facing an incubator kitchen and its client businesses. An incubator kitchen is a business incubator that serves food business start-ups by providing a licensed kitchen. The case follows the incubator from its formative stages through its establishment and expansion. We explore tensions in this transition from concept to fuller-scale operation both for the incubator and its clients. We discuss strengths and weaknesses with reference to the incubator's entrepreneurial and networking culture, physical facilities, services and financing.
Shared Cooking Space Boosts Food Entrepreneurs by Karen Edwards
When Chris Chmiel leaves his farm in southern Ohio for the weekly drive to the farmer's market, he brings along blocks of his handmade goat cheese and jars of his pawpaw-spiceberry jam. In Michigan, Vicki Fuller, owner of Maple Island Pies, recruits family members to help sell her flaky treats at four different farmers' markets. And in Pennslyvania, Kathleen Montgomery totes a cooler filled with containers of her zesty fresh salsa to a farmers' market not far away.
Service Puts Start-up Businesses on Fast Track
WEST MICHIGAN -- The regional service that helps potential entrepreneurs develop their start-up businesses is ready to crank out its graduates more quickly.
Armed with a new program partner and some outside funding, The Starting Block in Hart is offering new fast-track businesses launch program that is designed for area residents who have been laid off or are unemployed, those interested in entrepreneurships and business owners who want to retool their businesses.
Go For It
Have you turned Aunt Ellen’s sensational salsa recipe intosomething spectacular? Or is it your famous barbecue sauce that’s on demand at every family function? Ever thought about trying to move your products from the home kitchen to retail or commercial markets? Ron Steiner, who is the director of The Starting Block in Hart, says it’s not as hard as you think. The Starting Block is a commercial “incubator” kitchen designed to test the ideas and dreams of individuals to see if their products are marketable on a larger scale. It allows entrepreneurs to advance, alter or abandon ideas with minimal investment.
"Incubator" Hatches New Businesses: The Starting Block helps turns passion into profession by Linda Kotzian
As the first commercial kitchen “incubator” in Michigan, The Starting Block provides licensed kitchen where its clients can produce, package, store and ship their products. It also offers the marketing and business know-how to successfully grow their businesses.
In the face of Michigan’s manufacturing job losses...
Michigan's First Kitchen Incubator is in Business
Starting Block 'incubator' gets boost of federal funds by Dave Alexander
The U.S. Economic Development Administration has supported the Starting Block regional kitchen incubator with a $210,000 grant to be used to help buy its Hart facility.
The federal grant is part of a $460,000 project to...
Entrepreneurship is 'today's special' at Michigan's first kitchen incubator
The Starting Block combines elements of a
traditional business incubator, such as low-cost office space and shared conference room facilities, with a state-licensed commercial kitchen and product storage facilities.
The idea for a kitchen incubator to support agricultural product innovation was hatched nearly five years ago. A group of representatives from the MIFFS received a USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant and funding from the MEDC in 2003 to conduct regional kitchen incubator feasibility studies. Steiner said the study
showed that a kitchen incubator was viable in Manistee, Newaygo and Oceana
counties. Then, the real work began.
Grant to Fund Entrepreneurship at Michigan's First Kitchen Incubator
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is helping cook up innovation in western Michigan with a $210,000 grant for the Starting Block, Michigan’s first full-service center for value-added agricultural product innovation.
The Starting Block, located in Hart, helps food product entrepreneurs by combining the elements of a traditional business incubator, such as low-cost office space and shared conference room facilities, with a state-licensed commercial kitchen for producing and packaging their innovative products.
Bake a bigger pie in an incubator kitchen by Paul W. Jackson
When there's only so much pie to go around, there are a couple choices. In a socialist society, it's carved up into tiny pieces and everyone gets a crumb or two. In a capitalist society, everyone fights for the biggest share, and, ultimately, it all ends up on one plate. Ron Steiner believes in a third choice. Make the pie bigger.
The Starting Block Receives $210,000 Federal Grant to Purchase Facility U.S. Department of Commerce Funds will also Cover Program Costs
WASHINGTON , D.C. – The Starting Block kitchen incubator and entrepreneurial center has received a $210,341 investment from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to help fund a $460,341 project to purchase the building in which it currently operates and fund programming costs.