New Report: Kitchen Incubators

2020 Industry Update: The State of Kitchen Incubators in the US

In conjunction with Catharine Street Consulting, The Food Corridor, and Econsult Solutions, Urbane Development is proud to announce the release of its 3rd national survey of the kitchen incubator industry in the US. The state of shared-use food manufacturing activity has grown tremendously and evolved significantly since the first report in 2013, due to a confluence of forces, including:

  1. Stricter food regulations have increased the entry cost for commercial-grade food production, making more desirable the fractional ownership model seen in many other facets of the sharing economy.
  2. Kitchen incubators represent the intersection of the growing popularity of a number of contemporary movements, such as entrepreneurship, the local craft economy, and artisanal food production.
  3. Food is increasingly seen as an issue through which to pursue wellness, social justice, and equitable economic development.


This report is expected to be widely utilized by individual participants and industry advocates, as was the case with the previous two reports in 2013 and 2016, as it uses an extensive survey of practitioners around the country to provide invaluable information on the state of the kitchen incubator industry in the US and its evolution over time on key operational metrics such as square footage, staffing, and equipment/services offered. This time, that survey was sent to a broader range of participants in the shared-use food manufacturing space, which combined with a deeper dive into industry trends allows for a richer exploration of what is next for the industry.


  1. While the industry has come a long way in a short time, it has yet to formalize, and so missing standards and inconsistent practices create a perception of uncertainty, which yields reduced monetary and programming support.
  2. Lack of data, particularly in measuring the extent to which work is advancing economic inclusion, limits the case for funding.
  3. Both facility operators and individual users demand more support resources. Operators seek support with evidence-based entrepreneurial programming and development. Food entrepreneurs desire distribution/logistics support, access to trained labor, affordable sourcing, and technical assistance around branding/sales.
  4. Lack of access to working capital is a major barrier for both facility operators and member businesses in getting off the ground and in achieving growth aspirations.

Click here to read the Full Report.


New Report: Philadelphia Impact Investing Ecosystem

Philadelphia Impact Investing Ecosystem Analysis

In July 2018, Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia engaged Urbane Development through a grant from The Barra Foundation to assess the impact investing ecosystem in the Philadelphia area.

A scan of the landscape involved identifying current and potential investors, determining whether impact investment was part of their portfolio, and examining how these investments are defined and quantified. The team gathered information on the types, dollar range, targeted social purposes, and targeted geographies of impact investments that have been made in the past and of impact investments that foundations, angel investors, intermediaries, and others want to make in the future. Philanthropy Network wanted to focus particularly on the unique role that foundations might play in this emerging ecosystem.

The research uncovered a lack of understanding of the complex network of stakeholders engaging in impact investing in the Philadelphia region, including stakeholders currently involved – and those who would like to be – and their respective roles in this space moving forward. A lack of shared definitions around frequently utilized impact investing terms creates an additional layer of complexity. These barriers hamper coordination and cooperation among interested actors within the impact investment space. Through a series of interviews, roundtables, and a short survey collectively reaching 52 individuals from 46 organizations, Urbane Development gathered input from key stakeholders in the Philadelphia region who are involved (or want to be involved) in impact investing in order to better understand their priorities, needs, and challenges and to identify key opportunities to facilitate further impact investments in the region. The engagement culminated in a final presentation and executive summary outlining key recommendations and suggested action steps for Philanthropy Network to ultimately increase the philanthropic community’s commitment to impact investments in the region.

Click here to read the Executive Summary.

Development Without Displacement

Community Wealth Building Project Breaks Ground in Brooklyn, with Long-Term Vision for Community Assets

Construction begins on mixed-use community-first center to include 100% affordable housing, entrepreneur services center, and a revitalized Flatbush Caton Market, longtime destination of Caribbean commerce and culture in New York City

Amidst the seemingly unstoppable wave of gentrification across Brooklyn, the new Caton Flats development aims to disrupt this trend with a new project for the community with positive long-term impact. The approximately 280,000-square-foot project broke ground on Wednesday, May 15th at the corner of Caton and Flatbush Avenues and will feature 255 units of 100% affordable housing, alongside local retail, a business services center, and community space. At the heart of the project is a revitalized Flatbush Caton Market (FCM), a cornerstone of the neighborhood since Hon. Dr. Una S.T. Clarke first established the market in 2001, which will now feature expanded infrastructure such as commercial kitchens for food entrepreneurs and cut/sew space for fashion and textile entrepreneurs, dedicated business support services for vendors, and double the amount of available retail space for Caribbean entrepreneurs.

The vision and management for the new Flatbush Caton Market is being spearheaded by Urbane Development, a community development venture with a strong theory of change.

“Our vision is to position Flatbush Caton Market as the definitive destination for Caribbean commerce, entertainment, and culture in New York City. Our market program introduces food, fashion, art, and personal care products and services that leverage the vibrancy of the Caribbean community with a world-class retail destination in the heart of Flatbush,” said James Johnson-Piett, CEO and Principal of Urbane Development.

But is it possible to do development without displacement? And in Brooklyn, the question in focus is: can the redevelopment of Flatbush Caton Market provide a model for inclusive development while creating a vibrant community marketplace and hub in an increasingly gentrifying Flatbush?

Johnson-Piett describes what makes this project unique: “Despite this being a significant new development in the neighborhood, we hope it will signal to investors and the community at large that there’s a better approach – one that preserves and elevates local entrepreneurs who are most vulnerable to the d commercial corridors citywide. Our approach puts small businesses on a pathway to stay and build wealth in the community they’ve helped build.”

Caton Flats brings quality production and retail space together with access to expertise and guidance under one roof. The project places training and business development at the center of the multi-use facility, supporting new business creation and entrepreneurs looking to formalize their businesses, while maintaining a commitment to legacy vendors who are guaranteed space in the revitalized market. Entrepreneurs receive a full suite of support that sets them up for success through technical assistance, marketing strategies, and e-commerce along the way.

Thriving business corridors have long been an urban planning strategy to support healthy, vibrant neighborhoods but too often the strategy deepens wealth inequality through outcomes that benefit those who already have access to capital and other formal resources.

One vendor stated, “[Flatbush Caton Market] awakened my desire to invest in my body care business.  The market team inspired me to get a better understanding of the potential for my handcrafted brand.  I have learned a lot and have been able to expand and become what I am today” – Margarette Medina of Medina’s Natural Body Care, a legacy vendor at Flatbush Caton Market

Johnson-Piett added, “Business creation is one of the quickest paths to wealth creation, for both individuals and communities. We’re not going to legislate our way out of wealth inequality overnight, so finding ways to support entrepreneurs, cultivate under-resourced talent within a community, and anchoring those services to a physical place all becomes part of a meaningful way forward.”

Another vendor added: “[It’s] something I always dreamed of, owning my own business… something I can build up and when I leave, my children can carry on this business; it can be successful. We all want to be successful in the new spot.” – Juliana Hector of SNS Fashions, a legacy vendor at Flatbush Caton Market

If anyone, Urbane is qualified to bring this vision to life: with over 10 years of experience providing small business coaching, including dozens of their trademarked Bodega Bootcamps™, Urbane brings a breadth of knowledge and depth of expertise to the management of Flatbush Caton Market. However, this is Urbane’s first foray into large-scale mixed –use development. “We knew it was time to double down on our place-based work with a long-term commitment in a neighborhood we know well and have a connection to.”

Another unique aspect of the Caton Flats development is the profile of the ownership and management team bringing this work to fruition. Urbane Development is a black-owned consultancy and certified Minority Business Enterprise. BRP Companies is a black-owned development company and design architect Freeform+Deform is a Nigerian-owned architecture and design firm. “This project is led by black developers and design professionals, featuring primarily black Caribbean vendors, supported by black- management. This is significant when we look at the widening racial wealth gap, and what it means for black communities to be at the table, not just via representation but in terms of decision-making power,” stated Johnson-Piett. Furthermore, most of the management team comes from immigrant families, and so the work becomes very personal. “Our teams think about wealth creation and how to move needle for people of color on daily basis,” said Lisa Thompson, Director of Flatbush Caton Market and senior team member at Urbane Development.

Looking forward, all partners know this will take a commitment to the community for the long haul – but it’s not just about the survival of Flatbush, it’s about putting structure in place for the future of an intergenerational community of diverse residents to thrive.

“It’s a marathon; we’re all pushing the boulder uphill bit by bit, until we hit the point of catalytic change. We knew it would be a long process, but well worth the investment,” said Johnson-Piett.



While the site is under construction, the Flatbush Caton Market continues to operate out of a temporary location at 2184 Clarendon Road in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Currently, the market is home to 30+ Caribbean and West African entrepreneurs who make and sell products from prepared food, to flag wear, to original children’s toys. Vendors receive ongoing technical assistance, marketing support and access to resources to help them achieve their business goals.

This summer, the market will host a range of cultural and pop-up events that celebrate the heritage of the Flatbush community. Construction is estimated to be complete by July 2021, at which time the market will reopen at its original location. 

Come by 6 days a week to visit at our temporary location, or visit us online: