Are you living in Pontiac and seeking information on how to legitimize your food entrepreneur business?

Join a cohort of Pontiac food entrepreneurs seeking to grow their business through State and County licensing and utilize a shared space for food prep and service. The “Make it to Scale” Prep Kitchen is designed for food-making entrepreneurs looking to perfect their recipes and plans for a successful business. Housed in the First Presbyterian Church at 99 Wayne Street in Pontiac, the new incubator kitchen is providing an affordable certified kitchen space for food preparation.  Our program offers residents: 

·         Training sessions on how to get your business licensed

·         Access to a licensed food kitchen

·         Learn how to expand your business opportunities as a licensed food business

The “Level One Food Entrepreneur Program” targets entrepreneurs requiring commercial kitchen access, excluding those eligible under Cottage Law. This comprehensive program is set to launch in April 2024 and consists of six-week, three-hour seminars divided into four cohorts, each comprising 10-15 individual businesses. Designed and facilitated by T-Ramsey and Associates, the curriculum will run two simultaneous tracks: one ensuring businesses secure necessary Oakland County Health Department certifications and licensing, and another focused on establishing a functioning LLC, licensed through the state and city of Pontiac. The program also includes locating suitable commercial incubator kitchens for rent to aid entrepreneurs in scaling their operations. Graduates will emerge equipped to navigate the licensing process, acquire business insurance, and market their brand effectively. Moreover, they’ll receive a stipend from the Pontiac Community Foundation to subsidize half of their ServSafe training and insurance costs, reinforcing the program’s dedication to fostering a robust food entrepreneur network in Pontiac.

The Prep Kitchen Program Partner Referral Network:

One of the primary cornerstone components of the Prep Kitchen Program is building a network of local ServSafe approved kitchens that already have a working community rental program in place. MSP initially interviewed and identified local partners within the downtown space for interest in partnering, already had a working community kitchen program and was willing to expand their already existing kitchen program. The first non-profit partner organization to be vetted for interest in working together with MSP on the Make It To Scale Prep Kitchen Program was the First Presbyterian Church of Pontiac. In addition to interest in partnering, MSP consulted with a local food industry expert to review the kitchen program and determine additional equipment needs for the Make It to Scale Program. Based on the review we determined that the church would need an additional refrigerator and storage for the food entrepreneurs. MSP earmarked funding for the purchase as soon as the program kicked off in April 2024.

The Food Entrepreneur Level II Program is designed for established Pontiac-based food entrepreneurs who are already fully licensed and operational, particularly those in the food truck sector. These businesses are in need of larger, dedicated kitchen spaces suitable for their current scale of operations. Seasonal challenges, such as winterizing their trucks due to freezing temperatures which lead to a decline in foot traffic and the freezing of liquids, force these businesses to pause operations. The provision of a dedicated “Make it to Scale” kitchen space is seen as a critical factor for their continued growth, especially during colder months when food trucks are not viable. Our objective is to secure such a kitchen that can support these Level II entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses effectively throughout the year.

The implementation of the Level II Program is crucial for both the survival of Pontiac’s local food truck industry; as well as, downtown Pontiac’s food industry, providing non-traditional dining options during late-night hours. This initiative will cater to businesses and event venues that operate beyond the closing hours of traditional restaurants, ensuring that dining options remain available to the public. By facilitating access to dedicated kitchen spaces for food truck vendors, the Level II Program presents a solution that allows these entrepreneurs to serve customers during peak event times without incurring the high overhead costs associated with standard brick-and-mortar establishments. This strategy not only supports the growth of food truck businesses but also enriches Pontiac’s nightlife, offering residents and visitors alike the convenience of late-night dining options. At the same time Pontiac businesses will be able to sell their products and or services in the retail space.

Food-Based Business Training Cohorts

Cohort #1: Mondays, April 15 through May 20 

Cohort #2: Wednesdays, May 6 through June 10 

Cohort #3: Mondays, Aug. 19 through Sept. 30 

Cohort #4: Mondays, Oct. 14 through Week of Nov. 18

Participants must apply to join the cohort. 
To apply, download and fill out the application below.
Applications and questions can be sent to [email protected] and [email protected]

“Our mission is to provide an equitable food and beverage prep kitchen for the talented citizens of Pontiac who are striving to create an economic future for themselves and their families through entrepreneurial empowerment. By partnering with private and public sector partners, we seek to increase ‘the makers’ in the city and continue to build a vibrant downtown.”

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