Downtown Lansing incubator grows out of COVID void

A downtown Lansing business incubator established late last year has opened seven new startups at once.

Middle Village Micro Market was created last October by the business development agency Downtown Lansing, Inc.

The project was born in response to a wave of vacancies in the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The seven shops that opened this week are the second cohort for the incubator, which will help them with branding, client building and finding permanent locations.

Downtown Lansing, Inc. Director of Community Development Julie Reinhardt says she hopes businesses will branch out from the downtown core into underserved parts of the city and state.

“It’s a really great way to address some of the underrepresented communities and give them a safer, less risky way to enter into entrepreneurship,” said Reinhardt.

Reinhardt says the incubator program runs from now until next March, to give each business time to move out on their own.

“The goal being by the time they reach that October through December season where all retail makes the bulk of their yearly revenue, that they’re 100 percent ready to go and save that money for their next step into a brick and mortar,” she said.

Reinhardt says three of the four startups that began with the first cohort last October have since moved into their own permanent sites.