Allen Neighborhood Center awarded state grant

The Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing has been awarded a state grant to improve and equip an accelerator kitchen to accommodate food-growing and agriculture startups.

The Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development awarded the center a $50,000 performance-based grant to design and construct the Allen Place Accelerator Kitchen at the center on Lansing’s east side.

The neighborhood center plans to invest a total of  $150,000 to build out the kitchen and add new machinery and equipment to support five food-growing and agriculture companies.

Allen Neighborhood Center is a place-based organization that serves as a hub for neighborhood revitalization and for activities that promote the health and well-being of Lansing’s eastside community and other stakeholders.

Other food-centered programs at the center include:

  • Allen Farmers Market, a year-round Wednesday market connecting residents with fresh local produce and other locally produced food products.
  • Hunter Park GardenHouse, a year-round urban farm, and garden and education facility in Hunter Park.
  • Breadbasket Food Pantry, every Tuesday, providing free bread, pastries and produce to eastside residents from 1-5 p.m.
  • The Exchange, an e-commerce site and collaboration project between local farmers and food producers in mid-Michigan connecting entrepreneurs to commercial buyers.

The project is also being supported with a $40,000 Catalytic Investment Award from the Michigan Good Food Fund, a public-private partnership loan fund that provides financial support to food enterprises that benefit underserved communities across the state.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell said community projects such as this help expand the state’s agriculture industry.

“Michigan’s food and agriculture industry isn’t booming because of a couple mega-companies,” McDowell said. “It’s booming because of the thousands of small- and midsized operations that bring new, innovative ideas, products and technologies to the table. The hurdle that some of these businesses have, however, is securing enough capital to grow and stay ahead of the curve.

“These grants are designed to do exactly that,” McDowell said. “These relatively small, targeted investments help protect and create local jobs in both large and small communities across the entire state.”

The Allen Neighborhood Center was one of 11 grants the commission announced during its recent meeting.

 

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