MEDC: New Program Supports Michigan’s Food Truck Industry

June 25, 2013

in Urban Economic Development

Food trucks are taking to the streets in cities like Detroit and Traverse City offering up delicious, fast eats. Now, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is making an effort to help food entrepreneurs open up shop and expand in the state with a new Mobile Cuisine Start-Up Program.

The program, which was announced in conjunction with the Farmers Market Grant Program, is intended to expand the mobile cuisine, or food truck, industry throughout Michigan. The program will provide one-time grants of up to $10,000 to new food truck businesses or growing pre-existing businesses.

In this post, the MEDC’s Katharine Czarnecki tells us more about the program and the growing food truck industry in Michigan.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m currently the Director of Community Development for the MEDC. I’ve been with the MEDC for almost five years working with communities and developers on downtown redevelopment projects. I previously worked for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. I’m a MSU Spartan and a UGA Bulldawg.  I’m passionate about Michigan agriculture and supporting local, independent Michigan businesses.

Can you tell us more about the about the Mobile Cuisine Start-Up Program?

This developed out of several placemaking discussions and food hub meetings. Food brings people together and we wanted to put an emphasis on food innovation while using Michigan products and supporting entrepreneurship. All of this helps in our goal to make Michigan “places” more attractive for talent.

Can you give us some background on the food truck industry in Michigan? 

Food trucks are a part of the fabric of the community in many cities. They serve as a gathering place and often provide diversity in food types. Detroit is probably the leader in the state when it comes to food trucks, mostly due to the city’s size and the support in the region. But other cities and their surrounding communities such as Grand Rapids and Lansing are also starting to see trucks pop up. Eastern Market in Detroit has been very involved in supporting the community and had food truck rallies in their sheds for the past few years. I think we’re probably the first state to hold a competitive round such as this program and I believe Michigan has the right “ingredients” to be a leader in independent food establishments.

What is the goal of this program and can existing truck owners participate?

The goal of this program is to put 10 new food trucks on the streets. So if any existing truck owner or current restaurant owner is interested in expanding, they would be eligible.

How can entrepreneurs apply for this program?

To apply entrepreneurs should head to the Mobile Cuisine Start-Up Program 2013 Request for Proposals website. There they will find full details for the RFP and see the guidelines and what is needed for a great application.

Electronic submissions are due on July 1, 2013 and need to be sent in Word format to Contractsandgrants@michigan.org.

The MEDC is putting a focus on food entrepreneurship in the state, what other programs are available for those in the food industry?

We currently have a farmer’s market grant opportunity open for markets that have been operating for 4+ years. We are also bringing back our federal CDBG Farmers Market program in July to help communities with potential market infrastructure.

MEDC Community Development Director Katharine Czarnecki oversees community development initiatives along with management of the MEDC Community Assistance Team and the Redevelopment Ready Communities program.  In her current position, Ms. Czarnecki works closely with other state agencies in an effort to coordinate programs and policy for the revitalization of Michigan’s communities. Prior to joining the MEDC, Ms. Czarnecki worked in several communities around Michigan and most recently with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Czarnecki is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from Michigan State University. 

 Are you an entrepreneur or business leader in Michigan and want to share your success story or tell how Michigan has helped your business grow? Share your story on the Michigan Advantage blog! Learn more about being a guest blogger.

Tell us about your favorite food truck below. 

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