Food-based entrepreneurs can apply for microgrants for use at the Hazleton Kitchen Incubator

The Hazleton Innovation Collaborative (THInC) announced that it is currently accepting applications for microgrants of up to $2,500 for any new and expanding food-based businesses who operate out of the Hazleton Kitchen Incubator in the Hayden Family Center for the Arts in downtown Hazleton.

The microgrants are being offered through the Truist Foundation, which announced last December that it awarded a $15,000 grant to the Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, on behalf of the Collaborative, to provide financial support to culinary entrepreneurs participating in the partnership’s Kitchen Incubator Program.

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Hazleton natives using Hazleton Kitchen Incubator to bring their successful Nashville-based pizza business home

Barankos PizzaWhen Hazleton native Andrew Baranko and his family wanted to launch a location of their successful deli-style pizza business in their hometown, they found an efficient way to do it using the Hazleton Kitchen Incubator in downtown Hazleton.

Last August, Baranko and his family began making their own version of the cold, square-cut, deli/tavern-style pizza that originated in Hazleton and sold it as Baranko's Pizza at the Hunter's Community Market in Nashville and other pop-up locations in the city. When local family and friends expressed an interest in trying out their pizza, they decided to open a Hazleton location.

Baranko and his team are familiar with kitchen incubators, as they currently use one in Nashville to make their pizza. When they were looking into licensing in Pennsylvania and found out about the Hazleton Kitchen Incubator, they jumped at the opportunity to use it. Baranko worked with CAN DO Director of Economic Development Jocelyn Sterenchock to get settled in the space and found it to be an efficient experience.

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Shared Roots grows with help from THInC

Shared Roots webKrista Schneider, left, and Lauren Youngcourt are using space at the CAN BE Innovation center as a prototype site to test products for garden startup Shared Roots.

A collaboration between THInC partners CAN BE and the Hazleton Launchbox supported by Pasco Schaivo, Esq., as well as Penn State University’s Happy Valley LaunchBox, helped an entrepreneur grow her business from a literal seed into a reality.

After graduating from the Happy Valley LaunchBox, powered by PNC Bank’s FastTrack Accelerator program in the spring of 2021, Krista Schneider, founder of Shared Roots, landed the initial funding she needed to formally launch her business when she won the 19th annual tecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition non-collegiate competition.

At Shared Roots, Schneider takes waste products (spent grain and hops) from the Berwick Brewing Company and upcycles them into biodegradable garden squares made with recycled paper that are pre-seeded and ready to plant. As they decompose, they feed the soil with vital nutrients and organic matter while fending off weeds until the seeds germinate.

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