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

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 2017

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.  Support comes from Growing Our Local Economy: Washtenaw County Act 88 funds.

Location for this Class Series: SPARK East, 215 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197,   734-707-7442 for questions. All classes are free but registration is required. Registration at 

Tuesday, April 18, 6:30-8:30pm
Building Blocks: Becoming a Commercial Vendor

Learn what it takes to become a commercial food vendor.
How to move beyond the Cottage Food Law into a commercial kitchen, packaging, labeling, pricing, food safety and more will be discussed by Marcy Bishop Kates and a food vendor–Jen Gossett from Fairytale Baked Goods–who has made the change.
A Spanish interpreter can be available on site if needed. FREE, but register in advance here.

Past workshops have included:

Monday, January 30, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Farm to School Panel Discussion-Building Blocks for Food Entrepreneurs

Our area schools and universities want local food to be on the student menu. Learn why and what it takes to become a vendor. What are the food safety requirements, administrative needs and how do you deliver your products.
Panelists: Victoria Davis of Chartwells, Cherry Capital Foods, Vicki Zilke of Zilke Vegtable Farm, and Colleen Matts.

Monday, February 13, 2017, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Selling Your Products to Grocery Stores and Restaurants- Building Blocks For Food Entrepreneurs

Meet buyers from grocery stores and restaurants as well as vendors who are selling their products to these venues. Discover how to establish your business in the wholesale market place, including pricing. Learn how to work successfully with a distributor.

Monday, February 27, 2017, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Nitty Gritty-Hiring Employees-Building Blocks for Food Entrepreneurs

Wondering what you would need to know to hire employees?  We will cover this with our guest speakers who have food business experience. Learn what you need to know.

  • Basics for employing others
  • Best practices for hiring and managing employees.
  • Insurance for the food producer

Monday, March 13, 2017, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Food Processor Nitty Gritty – Financial Know How-Building Blocks

Everyone’s favorite subject! These are the crucial steps to success we often want to skip for more creative aspects of our business. Speakers: John Schmitt Senior Business Consultant, Small Business Development Center specializing in food products and some experienced vendors.

  • Pricing your product
  • Cost analysis
  • Record keeping and taxes

Learn how to access capital and lines of credit to grow your business.


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 24, 2017
  • Long-term Farm Volunteer Day
    May 24, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    See more details

May 25, 2017
May 27, 2017
  • Farmers Market Volunteering
    May 27, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
    Ypsilanti Farmers Market Depot Town, 400-698 Rice St, Ypsilanti, MI 48198, USA
    See more details

May 30, 2017
  • Data/Clerical/Cleaning Volunteer Day
    May 30, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

    See more details

  • Farmers Market Volunteering
    May 30, 2017 @ 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    Ypsilanti Farmers MarketPlace, 16 S Washington St, Ypsilanti, MI 48197, USA
    See more details

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