Milam Street Kitchen Incubator & Community Kitchen

The city of Shreveport’s Choice Neighborhoods Milam Street Kitchen Incubator/Community Kitchen is a project with strong community support, grounded in the Choice Neighborhoods planning process.   The recipient of a 2010 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant, the City of Shreveport partnered with a regional metropolitan planning organization, targeting Allendale and Ledbetter Heights, the city’s two oldest inner-city neighborhoods, marked by high abandonment, urban decay, poverty, crime and unemployment.  The planning process involved extensive outreach in several formats that engaged Allendale and Ledbetter Heights residents in discussions about their neighborhood to develop a dynamic, holistic, and achievable transformation plan responsive to their needs and existing assets, and creating new access to opportunity. The Shreveport Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan was submitted to HUD in May 2013 and approved in August 2013.

The Milam Street Kitchen Incubator/Community Kitchen grew out of this process and was one of the earliest identified critical community improvements included in the Transformation Plan.  Outreach and engagement efforts revealed that many food entrepreneurs in the Choice Neighborhood work from their homes, preparing meals for catering activities, or creating food products for sale at local markets, but with a very limited capacity to grow. Additionally, many small businesses lack the entrepreneurial and financial management training they need to be successful. The Shreveport community has a strong cultural heritage tied to Louisiana’s Cajun, Creole, and Southern Cuisine, and this is manifested in the many micro-enterprises centered around culinary products and food preparation. Public engagement and market research revealed that the region has a need for a kitchen incubator to support existing food-related businesses in the Choice Neighborhood and create living wage jobs in an industry slated to grow in the coming years. As the project design took shape, Choice Education partner Southern University at Shreveport, with successful experience in operating two small business incubators, workforce development programs and culinary arts training, emerged as the project lead.

The Milam Street Kitchen Incubator/Community Kitchen will function as a kitchen incubator/workforce development hybrid to encourage culinary and workforce training entrepreneurship opportunities to the Allendale/Ledbetter Heights community. The proposed project builds upon an existing economic strength and targeted economic development industry for the state – food production and culinary arts – and will make use of idle, abandoned, and adjudicated properties acquired by the City of Shreveport for Choice Implementation activities. The multi-faceted project will have an immediate economic impact by providing affordable workspace, opportunities for business expansion, a means for like-minded businesses to partner and network with one another, technical assistance to culinary businesses for marketing, financial training, and other needed skills, and a place for the community to come together through the Community Kitchen’s Community Café and Culinary Medicine component.

Southern University at Shreveport does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability or any other protected class. Title IX Coordinator: Dr. Tuesday W. Mahoney, Johnny L. Vance, Jr. Student Activity Center, Room 208, (318) 670-9201. Section 504 Coordinator: Ms. Jerushka Ellis, Health & Physical Education Complex, Room 314, (318) 670-9367