Economic Development

Growing Hope contributes to a vibrant community by providing access to an equitable, sustainable, food secure economy. Growing Hope is dedicated to empowering the community through economic development.

Besides providing a forum for local small businesses at our Farmers Markets, we also aim to provide the community with needed items and knowledge. Our garden store YpsiPlanti is a one-stop shop where aspiring and current gardeners can purchase anything they need for their own garden. Discounts and sliding scales are offered so that everyone has the opportunity to grow healthy food for themselves. Our Building Blocks workshops educate current and potential vendors in the best practices needed to grow their businesses. Finally, Growing Hope works to create an environment conducive to fostering and supporting local food businesses through our work in policy advocacy, kitchen incubator development, and job and internship training programs. Growing Hope envisions a community with a strong economy that offers room for food entrepreneurs and businesses to grow and develop, making both the community and the people in it healthier.

For questions concerning our Economic Development initiatives and Business Navigation Services, please email our Economic Development Manager, MaryAnn Nielsen-Nisley at or call at 734-707-7442

Food Business Navigation Services Intake Form

Growing Hope offers local food businesses (and businesses to be!) in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan– including vendors at our Ypsilanti Farmers Markets– navigation services to start or grow your enterprise.  We specialize in those new or small businesses and helping them know about the resources in the region– workshop and training opportunities, business development agencies, available kitchens, lending programs, licensing agencies et al– to help them take their next step.  We do not act as a business coach, but as a navigator to help entrepreneurs find the resources they need.
Sign up here to get started!

Building Blocks for Local Food Entrepreneurs 2018

Building Blocks for the Food Entrepreneur is a series of free workshops put on by Growing Hope, with partnership from the MSU Extension Service, the Michigan Small Business Development Center, SCORE – Washtenaw County, the Entrepreneurship Center at WCC, and SPARK East Incubator.

2018 “Building Blocks for the Local Food Entrepreneur”

Growing Hope’s Free Winter Workshop Series


Make your Message Stick: Insights into Marketing and Social Media Strategy

Monday, February 5, 2018, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, Robert C Barnes Sr. MarketPlace Hall, 16 South Washington Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Parking available on site or in the public parking lot across the street. 

Join this class to learn strategies for marketing your own local food business and utilizing the various forms of social media to get your message heard. Facilitated by Tricia Phelps, CEO of Taste the Local Difference (TLD), Michigan’s Local Food Marketing Agency. TLD is committed to offering affordable marketing services to farms and food businesses across the state and Tricia has over seven years of experience in marketing, social media management and building consumer demand for local food.

Register for the event here


From Cottage Law to Commercial Food Producer

Monday, February 12, 2018, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, Robert C Barnes Sr. MarketPlace Hall, 16 South Washington Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Parking available on site or in public parking lot across the street.

Understand what you can legally make and sell under the Cottage Food Law. From there, learn how to take it to the commercial level. Amanda Cooley from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Becky DeYoung, Innovation Counselor with the MSU Product Center will speak about the technicalities of the Cottage Food Law and how you can get your dream food business started.

Register for the event here


From the Start to Selling: Small Food Business Entrepreneurship

Monday, February 26, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, Robert C Barnes Sr. MarkePlace Hall, 16 South Washington Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Parking available on site

Gretchen Kopmanis informally started the Czechbox Bakery in 2012. Based on lessons she’s learned, she’ll guide you through the planning stages for starting a successful business including product development, establishing your brand, pricing strategies, record keeping, marketing, display and setting up as a Farmers Market vendor.

Register for the event here


List of Shared Kitchen Spaces

Growing Hope supports food businesses and food entrepreneurs find the start-up resources they need. If you’re looking for a commercial or shared kitchen space check out this list of Shared Kitchen Spaces


May 1, 2018
  • Downtown Market Outdoor Opens!
    May 1, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

    See more details

June 9, 2018
  • Growing Hope's 15th Birthday Party at the Farm!
    June 9, 2018 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    See more details

November 5, 2018
  • International Volunteer Managers Day
    November 5, 2018
    See more details

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