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Incubator Kitchen in Boston Square neighborhood making a big impact for entrepreneurs

Kzoo Station was created by Amplify GR and Spring GR to help food industry entrepreneurs grow their business.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Several projects are underway in the Boston Square neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

All part of an effort to transform and revitalize the area.

And a completed project is already making a big difference for entrepreneurs growing their small business.

What was once an auto repair shop on Kalamazoo Avenue is now the home Kzoo Station.

“Food businesses are a great entry level, entrepreneurship, on ramp for women and folks of color. And so, we were meeting a lot of folks that had food businesses and were looking for a place to really be able to cook and to learn and to fine tune their businesses,” Danielle Williams, with Amplify GR, said.

The kitchen incubator program or KIP walks entrepreneurs through the steps of owning a business it helps them acquire all the necessary licensing to get started and makers can rent time in the commercial kitchen for $20 an hour.

“The design here is that two to three businesses could be operating in here at a time so much like a restaurant, you know, it's like people don't get the whole kitchen to themselves, they kind of work together. The goal of that is to establish community amongst our entrepreneurs,” Arlene Campbell, Spring GR, said.

Like many others impacted by the pandemic LaToya Burpo found herself out of work. She started cooking more for family and friends.

“People started asking to buy because all the restaurants were closed. And all the great feedback that i got from everyone made me want to pursue it further,” Burpo said.

She decided to get a food truck.

Taste of Toya’s World, the home of chicken wings and loaded fries was born, but Burpo wanted to learn the ins and outs of running a business. KIP became the lifeline she needed.

“Anyone that ever wants to really make it they need to come to this program because it shows you just not the little things that you miss, and they showed you the big bridges that you need to build so make your business successful,” Burpo said.

Barbara Johnson the owner of Honeybee’s Kitchen and Catering is an entrepreneur licensed out of Kzoo Station.

“When you have a great support team or people that want to help you genuinely want to help you just want to see you do better, then you feel better, and you want to do better,” Johnson said.

After going through the program, she aspirations of opening a restaurant, a line of barbeque sauces, and even a non-profit.

“It’s something that I want more than anything, because it is something that will give back to the community, it's going to help people. And it's going to create jobs for people that don't have a job,” Johnson said.

It’s a dream that started here at Kzoo station a symbol of hope and progress in the Boston Square neighborhood.

Applications for the KIP program just opened and interviews are in July.

Plus, you can also learn more and support the local businesses featured in this story at local food truck festivals or by placing an order online.

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