Applications open for Spark DSM minority business incubator


Des Moines, IA – The Greater Des Moines Partnership has announced that the newly named Spark DSM Minority Business Incubator program has opened applications in time for upcoming Downtown DSM events. The Spark DSM Incubator was started in 2022 to serve the Downtown Farmers’ Market presented by UnityPoint Health – Des Moines, and has expanded to include other Downtown events, including the World Food & Music Festival, the DSM Book Festival, Out to Lunch and more.

“The Spark DSM Minority Business Incubator program connects new vendors to attendees of major events, and intentionally welcomes small business owners with diverse backgrounds that may be interested in becoming full-time vendors in the future,” said Angie Stepsis, Chief of Staff at The Partnership. “This collaboration will continue to strengthen our ability to provide Market patrons with resources from vendors they otherwise may not have known about.”

To participate in the Spark DSM program, a business must be minority-owned, operated and actively managed by one or more persons who fall into one or more of the following categories: minority group, woman, persons with disabilities, disabled veteran or LGBTQ+. Businesses must also sell locally grown/handmade items — no resale or wholesale options will be accepted.


“The Spark DSM Incubator provides a great opportunity to uplift local businesses in our community and help them reach new customers,” said Jo Christine Miles, director, Principal® Foundation and community relations. “Principal is committed to helping more people reach financial security and strives to eliminate barriers for entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses. We are excited to see what these small business owners bring to the marketplace.”

New this year, selected vendors who apply for the Downtown Farmers’ Market will get multiple dates at The Market ranging through the season. Vendors will also have access to year-round classes and supplemental education.

Applicants of the Spark DSM Incubator program must be new to the event they are applying to join, and meet one of the following requirements:


Applications for upcoming Downtown events are open through Sunday, May 7. Those interested in applying for the Downtown Farmers’ Market, World Food & Music Festival, Out to Lunch and other pop-up events can fill out an application to be considered. Applications can be found here.

Past participants of the Spark DSM Incubator program include Joy of Curls, McCabe Artistry, Cie Cie’s Sweet Treats and more.

“The Spark DSM Incubator program is a fantastic opportunity for our Greater Des Moines community members to learn about and support minority-owned businesses in their community,” said Beth Nigut, Executive Vice President of EMC Insurance Companies. “We hope that Spark DSM encourages residents and visitors to experience the immense value these diverse businesses provide to our communities.”


The Spark DSM Program is sponsored by Principal and EMC Insurance. Other partners include Evelyn K. Davis Center, Center at Sixth and LadyLike.

Learn more about the Spark DSM Program on The Partnership’s website.

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