HUDSON, N.Y. — Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation (HVADC) is now accepting applications for its third Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program. For producers and makers in Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Rensselaer and Washington counties the opportunity is now open to participate in this intensive training program which has brought in nearly $1 million in outside investments to businesses that graduated from the program thus far. Applications for this exclusive program will close September 16.
For local food entrepreneurs on the verge of scaling their businesses, one impediment to growth can be the access to capital. The HVADC FFFA Program is an opportunity for farm and food enterprise owners to develop the necessary skills and materials to build their businesses and approach financial sources.
Launched in 2016 with a class of nine Peers, a second FFFA program of ten Peers recently completed a seven month curriculum beginning in November 2018, and culminating with the Peer participants making final pitch presentations to potential funders on June 26.
Through a customized program, FFFA participants engage in expert instruction, one-on-one counseling and technical assistance, field visits, group interaction and industry networking events to learn how to build their refine their business models and define new market opportunities in anticipation of pitching to potential funders and investors. As a fast track program preparing businesses to access capital, typical curriculum includes business plan writing, financial planning, management strategies, marketing, capacity building training and pitch development. Training sessions are conducted by HVADC, its industry partners, industry professionals, and institutional and retail stakeholders in the Hudson Valley food system. Peers from the prior FFFA classes also participate as mentors and counselors.
Throughout the program and in particular at the final pitch events, FFFA participants are given the opportunity to connect with the growing network of funders that support local food systems through methods such as equity, loans, grants, crowdfunding, as well as HVADC’s Hudson Valley Agriculture Loan Fund. Past Peer participants have already achieved growth, found funding and developed new markets.
Applications for the intensive FFFA training program are now being accepted at www.hvadc.org through September 16. There is no fee to participate in the FFFA program once accepted, but applicants must be a farm, food, fiber or agriculture-dependent business having their home office, farm or production facility in the Hudson Valley, and sourcing the majority of their product ingredients from the region, as well as the majority of their labor force. They must be able to make a commitment to the time and resources required of the training program and be able to commit the same to future FFFA participants as a peer or mentor.
Participants in the just concluded 2018/2019 FFFA class were: Battenkill Valley Farms, Berle Farm, Farmer & Baker, Gray Family Farm, Gopal Farm, J.S.K. Cattle Company, Local Artisan Bakery, Miracle Springs Farm, Phoenicia Honey Co., and Veeda Holi Hydration. Those participating in the 2016/2017 class were: Argyle Cheese Factory, Balet Flowers and Design, Fishkill Farms, The Green Onion, Lavenlair Farm, les collines, Minkus Family Farms, Raspberry Fields Farm, and Soukup Farms. In addition to funding, past Peers have garnered scholarships or concessions through pitch competitions with Middletown’s Race4Space (Farmer & Baker), SUNY ADK Business Plan Competition (Lavenlair Farm and Argyle Cheese Factory), the SUNY New Paltz marketing intern completion (Gopal Farm) and the farmers market association business plan contest (Battenkill Valley Farms).
“Through the FFFA program participants are also exposed to a number of sales and networking opportunities through event participation, such as in the past, showcasing at the kick offs for Hudson Valley Restaurant weeks, the Taste New York and Buyer ConneX events, and presenting at the Access to Capital program,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director, HVADC. “Event participation provides the Peers the chance to hone their business models and presentation skills to be prepared to address potential funders at the end of the program. We have also found that the networking with other FFFA Peers both current and prior, provides the prospect for invaluable collaboration and creativity, leading to sales opportunities, new product development and references,” she continued.
There is a nominal application fee of $15 for the FFFA program (waived for those who have served in the military’s five branches), while participation in the program is free if accepted. Funding for FFFA is made possible by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency. Accepted applicants will be notified in October.
Additional details and application information about the FFFA may be found at www.hvadc.org or by calling 518-432-5360.
To learn more about the FFFA program and other HVADC initiatives, follow HVADC at https://www.facebook.com/Hudson-Valley-AgriBusiness-Development-Corporation-764302087287472/
The HVADC is the region’s sole economic development agency with a specific focus on the viability of the agricultural economy in the Hudson Valley. It assists both new and existing agri-businesses such as farms, food businesses and food distributors, by providing technical and business consultation and resources. The non-profit promotes balanced, market-based solutions that lead to enhanced agricultural entrepreneurship, rural economic growth and community enhancement. For more information, please visit: www.Hvadc.org. HVADC produces a monthly-newsletter The Cultivator featuring its initiatives, partnerships and the businesses of its clients. For more information, visit: www.Hvadc.org.
–Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation