Removing Barriers to Owning a Small Business

By Madisyn Hillyard on June 13, 2022

StarkFresh serves the people of Stark County through a variety of ways, all in the name of their mission: “Tackling the causes of hunger by creating realistic pathways out of poverty.” Many in the county know StarkFresh for its grocery store located in downtown Canton on Cherry Ave. NE or its mobile grocery market that travels throughout the area; though the programs offered through StarkFresh go past the scope of bringing food to people in need. StarkFresh also houses a Food Incubation Center, or FIC, that provides resources to people looking to start or grow their own business in a method that is more accessible than attending traditional business school. Don’t let the name fool you, the FIC goes beyond providing resources to only businesses that focus on food, but also supports businesses of any kind. Keep reading to learn more about how StarkFresh can help you become an entrepreneur without all the hassle.

Food Safety Training

In all aspects of food-related commerce, food safety is a top priority. To meet the educational needs of our community, staff members at our Food Justice Campus teach ServSafe Food Safety courses on a regular basis. Many food-based businesses require their management team to have a ServSafe type of certification in order to ensure food safety is a top priority in the kitchen. It is also required not only by some municipalities, but by StarkFresh as well if you wish to use our shared-use kitchen. We currently offer several levels of training and proctoring at our Food Justice Campus, the only in-person offerings open to the general public within Stark County.

Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen

Our shared-use commercial kitchen is an affordable, fully licensed kitchen, available for hourly rental 365 days per year, 24 hours a day, for food-related business. Our shared kitchen is registered with the Ohio Department of agriculture and is certified by Canton Public Health. StarkFresh’s shared kitchen is perfect for a home-based food business or food truck looking to expand its operations into a more formal setting. There are several different leasing options available, depending on your needs. Our kitchen can be rented in 3-hour increments for $15 per hour. There are also storage options if you wish to keep items at StarkFresh when not using the kitchen. When using the shared-use commercial kitchen, owners have the option to function as a “ghost kitchen” and have people come pick up their order from StarkFresh.


Our low-cost office spaces are fully equipped individual workspaces that are available for monthly, weekly, or one-time rental, providing an affordable option for those who want to work on their business and create a pathway out of poverty. We have individual cubicles available that can be set up depending on your needs. The offices are completely furnished with desks, chairs, chair mats, filing cabinets, Windows 7 desktop computers with internet, scanning and printing capabilities. These office spaces are a great way for small business owners to transition from working at their kitchen table to working in their own space that is dedicated to their work.

Use of the shared office space and shared-use commercial kitchen includes these amenities:

Business Development Boot Camp

We offer a Business Development Boot Camp (BDBC) that is a 6-week, 12 session course designed to be as plain-language as possible so that it is easily accessible to any person that is interested in starting a small business with no prior business background or schooling. We schedule these classes to take place in the evening in order to accommodate people who are working during the day. The cost of this course is $125; topics covered include:

  • Identifying your market and customer
  • Competitive advantage and elevator pitch
  • Business plan creation
  • Business structure and financial checklists
  • Financial literacy
  • Employees
  • Marketing and branding
  • Insurance
  • And more…

In addition to this course being created with intentions of being easy to understand, it is also designed to give students the exact tools they need to continue their business growth after successful completion of the class. Students walk away with their own copy of the class curriculum, endless online resources, and access to mentors that have been identified to help graduates through any specific hurdles that they may come across as they continue to form and grow their business.

Most people think that starting a small business is impossible, but when given the right tools that are created with them in mind, it is more than achievable. StarkFresh helps dozens of businesses a year in Stark County get off the ground and achieve their goals. Whether you need a place to work, a place to cook, or help with all the formalities involved in creating a business, we have something for you.

If you are interested in keeping up to date with everything going on in the Food Incubation Center, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter by emailing the Food Incubation Center Coordinator, Maddie, at [email protected]!

For more information on our Food Incubation Center, or other programs, please visit!


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