KEYS – Kimco Encourages Entrepreneurs to

Kimco Realty is actively seeking startup entrepreneurs and first-time business owners to apply and participate in our KEYS program. KEYS (Kimco Entrepreneurs Year Start) will place qualified applicants into Kimco shopping centers with one year of free rent and additional benefits. Kimco will provide operational and financial support through the critical startup incubation years, to better ensure the success of these first-time business owners.

Mom-and-pop stores are an integral part of our communities, and Kimco designed the KEYS program to help encourage small business, as well as women, minority and veteran-owned businesses to open and succeed. KEYS launched in California, and has now expanded into 19 states across the U.S. In total, there are over 600 small shops (2,500 square feet and under) available for KEYS participants, including many pre-built restaurant spaces.

KEYS LISTINGS – Browse Available Space

Entrepreneur Training Scholarships

Kimco is pleased to announce an alliance with NxLeveL Education Association to provide comprehensive 30-hour educational course programs for start-up entrepreneurs and prospective business owners interested in opening their first retail store, restaurant, or service operation. NxLeveL, the nation's largest entrepreneurial training network, with more than 300,000 graduates and 8,000 certified instructors, offers a practical, hands-on approach to preparing and executing a business plan.

As part of the NxLeveL alliance, Kimco has established a scholarship which will reimburse a portion of an applicant's tuition cost upon completion of the program. The NxLeveL start-up entrepreneur course programs will be available through Women's Business Centers, minority organizations, Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), non-profit business organizations, community colleges, and various universities, in metropolitan areas throughout selected cities in the U.S. Contact NxLeveL for additional information on course locations.

Share this video:

KEYS Benefits

  • First year rent FREE! (Standard triple net fees shall apply)
  • Personal Kimco retail business counselor to assist in store location selection
  • Upon completion of successful first year, favorable four-year lease option
  • Immediate "retail credibility" by opening store in a neighborhood or regional shopping center owned by a premier national real estate company

Qualifications for KEYS participants

  • Startup entrepreneur who plans on opening his or her first store, restaurant, or other concept (not accepting franchisees)
  • Adequate source of funding for venture
  • Written Business Plan with detailed business goals
  • Ability to articulate his or her plan for success
  • Certificate, endorsement, or letter of completion verifying entrepreneurial classes completed from an SBA sponsored business association, college, university, NxLeveL or appropriate training organization encouraged, but not required

KEYS Success Stories

Snowopolis – Montebello Town Center, Montebello, CA:

Scott Leotti has always had a passion for shave ice and its tropical flavors. He became inspired by some shave ice locations he found while traveling, and realized that the market for shave ice was not yet saturated, and that it could be the next big thing for frozen desserts. After finding the KEYS Program through an internet search, Scott is now the proud owner of a booming dessert restaurant. Read more about Scott’s KEYS experience on our blog.

Pawlor Pets – Bell Camino Center, Sun City, AZ:

Priscilla Parker opened Pawlor Pets after the grooming salon where she had worked for nearly 10 years was sold. Priscilla wanted to create a grooming salon that turned out quality work at an affordable price, in a stress free environment. With the help of the KEYS Program, she was able to realize her dream of creating a place where pets and their owners would be happy to come back to time and time again.

MROC Training – Fire Mountain Center, Oceanside, CA:

Mike Confer’s fitness journey began in Okinawa, Japan as a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor. His passion for coaching and healthy living continued through college as a Personal Trainer, reaching a peak in 2011 when he discovered Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). Since then, Mike has been on a mission to serve the Mud Run & Obstacle Course Racing (ORC) community with expert fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coaching. He’s now been able to fulfill this mission through the KEYS Program. For more on MROC Training, check out our post on Kimco's blog.

Custom Fitness Personal Training – Laband Village S.C., Chino Hills, CA:

Patrick Aguirre’s desire to live a well-balanced life has led to a lifelong passion for training and sharing his knowledge with clients. With 15 years of experience, Patrick has become an expert on clients' needs in the fitness industry, including but not limited to paraplegics, stroke victims, those recovering from surgery and sport performance in young athletes. Through KEYS, Patrick now has the space to live out his passion, helping his clients change their bodies and their lives.

Artisan’s Palate – Palm Plaza S.C., Temecula, CA:

Pia Maffei spent 25 years as an entrepreneur and executive, focused on technology. In that capacity, she has traveled most of the country and much of the world, and has always enjoyed sampling the fantastic cuisine specific to each locale. She has now decided to place that same level of energy into sharing her passion for great food with the Temecula community. Through KEYS, Pia has opened a specialty gourmet food shop, connecting the community with local artisans focused on producing the highest quality products, including organic, gluten-free, pale and non-GMO foods. Learn more about Pia and Artisan's Palate on our blog.

KEYS Press

Title Publication Date
N.Y. landlord expands retail incubator offering to CT 2015-08-25
Kimco expands incubator program to LI Long Island Business News 2015-08-25
Kimco & NxLeveL Offer Entrepreneur Course Small Business Opportunities 2015-04-28
Picking a Spot to Set Up Shop San Diego Union Tribune 2015-04-07
Special Programs Can Bring Down Cost of Setting Up Shop San Diego Union Tribune (print only) 2015-04-07
Kimco expands tenant incubation program Shopping Centers Today Newswire 2015-04-04
Business Notes San Diego Union Tribune (print only) 2015-02-13
Kimco Realty Expands Successful KEYS Business Incubator Program Into Nevada and Arizona Global Entrepreneurship Institute 2013-10-13
Kimco rolls out business incubator program in Nevada 2013-08-10
Kimco rolls out business incubator program in Nevada Reno-Gazette Journal ( 2013-08-08
Shopping center owner offers free rent to incubate well-planned young firms Northern Nevada Business Weekly 2013-08-05
Alameda County: Entrepreneur boot camp to aid small-business owners San Jose Mercury News 2013-06-04
Comic shop first to take flight with program The Orange County Register (print only) 2013-01-17
Retail operator offers chance at free space for small businesses Sacramento Business Journal 2013-01-15
Business Brief: City offers help for current and prospective business owners San Jose Mercury News 2013-01-15
Comic Book Hideout grand opening / KEYS Fullerton Observer 2013-01-14
Tenant Incubators Take Off as Landlords Try to Fill Small Shop Space National Real Estate Investor 2012-05-15
O.C. boasts 3 new projects to help startups Orange County Register 2012-04-26

Educational Alliances

The best-qualified KEYS applicants will have completed a formal entrepreneurial business program, such as NxLeveL. Applicants may submit a certificate from a community college for a business program, an endorsement from a training organization, or a letter of completion of an entrepreneurial series of classes.

Our educational alliances include the following reputable and highly-regarded organizations:

Online Application

Kimco welcomes future business owners to apply to KEYS, and we eagerly await your communications.

Please click here to begin the online application process.

If you have any questions or need assistance in filling out the application, please call
1-888-668-1690 and ask for KEYS assistance.

Thank you in advance for your application.


  • Amy  Daniels
    Leasing Assistant
    Office: (516) 869-7195
    3333 New Hyde Park Road
    Suite 100
    New Hyde Park, NY 11042

  • Daniel  Lupien
    Senior Director of Real Estate
    Office: (480) 874-7524
    Cell: (602) 361-0318
    1061 North Dobson Road
    Suite 118
    Mesa, AZ 85201

  • Judith  Briggs
    Executive Assistant
    Office: (760) 598-2084
    1621-B South Melrose Drive
    Vista, CA 92081

  • Michelle  Bauer
    Director of Real Estate
    Office: (702) 446-8813
    Cell: (702) 539-5053
    1211 W. Warm Springs
    Suite #120
    Henderson, NV 89014

Loading Animated Ellipse