KEYS Program

Kimco Encourages Entrepreneurs to Unlock Success

Our Program

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 Benefits

  • First year rent FREE! (standard triple net fees will 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

* Triple net expenses cover real estate taxes, building/parking lot insurance and common area maintenance charges.

Qualifications for 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 or appropriate training organization encouraged, but not required

KEYS Application

If you would like to start your Keys application, have questions or need assistance, please call (888) 668-1690 and ask for KEYS assistance.

Jennifer Maisch

Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Communications

Office: (516) 869-7224

Encouraging Small Businesses

The best-qualified KEYS applicants will have completed a formal entrepreneurial business program. 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:

  • Go to Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program's website (Opens in a New Window)
  • Go to Renaissance Entrrepreneurishop Center's website (Opens in a New Window)
  • Go to California SBDC's website (Opens in a New Window)

Our Success Stories

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.

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.

Keys in the Press



  • February 26 - LI mom-and-pop shops find space in malls, shopping centers