Milam Street Kitchen Opens
Choice Neighborhoods grant catalyst for new SUSLA program
Despite several false starts, it looks like the vacant, cottage-style structure at 1210 Milam St. is finally ready to blossom this fall, giving locals a food venue for which they’ve been salivating. The Milam Street Kitchen Incubator and Community Kitchen (MS KICK) celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 27, introducing a new culinary spin to Shreveport.
“The Milam Street Kitchen Incubator and Community Kitchen will link food to the community,” Darrin Dixon, executive director of entrepreneurship and small business development at Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA), said. “Primarily, the program will be a hub for entrepreneurs in the culinary space to have access to commercialgrade kitchen equipment. This will allow them the capacity to scale their businesses to serve a greater amount of clientele than they can currently serve by cooking in their homes.”
It’s a delicious win-win for local chefs and the community. “This concept of connecting food to community is what makes it unique,” Dixon said.
As part of an in-kind sponsorship, Louisiana Food Prize will host their cooking competition at MS KICK. “This will give the participants of our culinary training program to work with and assist celebrity chefs,” Dixon said. “Which is also an awesome opportunity to help brand our program.”
A new program at SUSLA, MS KICK is an initiative of the SUSLA Center for Business and Community Development.
It is the first project of the Choice Neighborhood program and will serve the needs of individuals from the Allendale, Ledbetter Heights and West Edge communities. “Through training opportunities in the culinary industry, apprenticeship opportunities with the local hospitality industry, and programming, MS KICK will educate and encourage preparation of healthy foods,” Dixon said.
The incubator project was the recipient of a $1,000,000 Choice Neighborhoods Action Activities Award granted by HUD and administered by the Department of Community Development. The kitchen incubator project was selected and approved by HUD in December 2016. The City of Shreveport, in partnership with NLCOG, was awarded a $250,000 Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2010 to create a Transformation Plan, which defines the overall revitalization strategy and guides all related activities.
Bonnie D. Moore, community development director for HUD/Shreveport Choice Neighborhoods, is especially excited about MS KICK and its grand opening. “In June 2016, the City of Shreveport and the Housing Authority of the City of Shreveport were awarded a $1 million Choice Neighborhood Planning and Action Activity grant,” Moore said. “The grant supported the construction of MS KICK. An additional $604,000 in CDBG funds contributed to further expansion, bringing the total to be invested in MS KICK through the Shreveport Choice Neighborhood Initiative to $1,604,000.
“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” Moore said. “We believe that MS KICK will be a catalyst for further development in the community, while simultaneously assisting food entrepreneurs and creating positive outcomes for residents and stakeholders.”
“Key goals of this plan relevant to this project include the following,” Dixon said. “One, to facilitate redevelopment of large, depopulated areas; two, to reduce the number of vacant lots; three, to create mixed-use activity nodes to achieve critical mass of new development; four, attract additional amenities to better serve resident needs; five, increase residents’ knowledge of preventative health care; and lastly, to improve household self-sufficiency and economic stability, among others.”
Interested parties can contact Turaeza Hose at firstname.lastname@example.org or Monique Armand at email@example.com for more information about rental of the space and participation in the training programs.