Kalamazoo incubator getting bigger digs to support more startups

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Following in her family’s line of entrepreneurs, Doreen Gardner is the owner of her own business in Kalamazoo.

Gardner’s Papa’s Peanut Brittle, named in honor of her late father, is among the more than 200 startups attributing their success to Can-Do Kitchen, an incubator providing resources for owners — from finances and licensing to logistics and operations.

“The connection that they have made for me with the resources and things that I need to be able to grow this business, to be able to scale my growth, to be able to manage things… has just been phenomenal,” Gardner said.

Next year, Can-Do Kitchen will be packing its knives to a bigger, more centralized location. Executive Director Lucy Dilley says the new site in the area of Park Street at Walnut Street (near Walnut & Park Café) quadruples its commercial kitchen space and addresses many office needs.

“Our Lake Street facility just doesn’t have enough storage,” Dilley said. “It’s off the beaten path; a lot of people don’t really know that we’re there. So we’re really excited about getting near downtown.”

The incubator will also be renamed Can-Do Kalamazoo, welcoming all entrepreneurs, not just those selling food and drink.

“Everybody can have the same opportunity to build businesses because that’s good for families, it’s good for our economy, it’s good for Kalamazoo,” Dilley said.

Gardner also encourages those who are still on the fence to start a legacy of their own, just like she did for her papa.

“I have so much hope right now. I want people to experience that same hope to know that there’s something that you have, that you can take and you can use that can make a difference in your life and really begin to leave a legacy,” she said.

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