The Downtown market at Grand Rapids, Michigan, has reportedly entered into a partnership with various organizations including GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women), the Grand Rapids Downtown Market Education Foundation, Michigan-based Start Garden and the MSU Extension. The partnership is reportedly expected to favor and strengthen the food system of the region.

According to the sources familiar with the matter, Downtown Market will be launching a new MeetUp group called as the Culinary Conversations on the January 15. This is a peer-to-peer collaboration and networking group for the food industry professionals of West Michigan including chefs, producers, growers, entrepreneurs, restaurant owners and others. The new MeetUp group will also be offering gatherings in regular schedules that will include educational and networking opportunities and speaker events.

Sources cite that the panelists taking part in the first session will include the entrepreneurs from Green Collar Farms, Amore Trattoria, and Founders Brewing Co. The panel presentation will be moderated by Lisa Knight – the director of Urban League Center for Health & Wellness.

Mimi Fritz, the Chief Executive Officer and President at Grand Rapids Downtown Market, was reported stating that the main function of company’s food system is to feed and nourish its communities and connecting food scientists with experts will help in building a healthy ecosystem.

West Michigan, for the record, has a great deal of locally-owned restaurants & various food processors and also constitutes over 12,200 local farms.

Sources with the knowledge of the matter claimed that Start Garden (one of Downtown Market’s partners) is passionate about developing a local culture which will help food ideas to get converted into successful businesses, while forming a network for the company’s expansion. Sources further added that creating and investing in an entrepreneurship culture as well as supporting local businesses in the food & beverage industry has become extremely important.

Meanwhile, GROW is seeking diversity in local food scenario and is looking forward to seeing more women in roles of ownership and leadership in the local food community.