HUDSON, N.Y. — For local food entrepreneurs on the verge of scaling their businesses, one impediment to growth can be the access to capital. The Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s (HVADC) Farm and Food Funding Accelerator 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. Applications for the intensive training program are now being accepted at www.hvadc.org.
Launched in 2016 with a class of nine Peers, this second FFFA program will be a six to eight month curriculum beginning in November 2018, and culminating with participants having the opportunity to pitch potential funders in spring 2019. Applications for this exclusive program will close September 15. Accepted applicants will be notified in October.
Through a customized program, FFFA participants will engage in expert instruction, one-on-one counseling and technical assistance, group interaction and industry networking events to learn how to build their sales in anticipation of speaking with investors, discover new market opportunities, and pitch to potential funders.
Participants will have 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 AgriBusiness Loan Fund. Training sessions will be conducted by HVADC, its industry partners, industry professionals, and institutional and retail stakeholders in the Hudson Valley food system. In addition to HVADC instructors, Peers from the 2016 FFFA class will participate as mentors and counselors. Sylke Chesterfield, a business consultant and certified coach of Chesterfield Advantage, has been named the FFFA Project Manager.
Sara Higgins, owner of Raspberry Fields Farm in Marlboro, New York was among the first class’s participants, and found the program to be enriching. “As a small business owner, guidance, assistance and partnering are lifelines to my company. I found all three as a participant in the program. Being selected for the program offered me countless present and future opportunities to help scale my business as well as put me in a Mastermind group of other small business owners,” she said.
FFFA 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.
“The FFFA curriculum is basically a fast track program for those who need additional business, financial planning, management, marketing, and capacity building training . . . and most important, an opportunity to access sources of capital,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director, HVADC. “It is a wonderful opportunity for Hudson Valley farmers and food entrepreneurs who have ideas about how they would like to scale up their business, such as launching a new product, introducing a new crop, seasonally expanding production, or finding new distribution channels, and we found through the first class that networking with other FFFA Peers in the class produced creative collaborations for sales opportunities, new product development and references,” she continued.
There is a nominal application fee of $15 for the FFFA program. Funding for FFFA was made possible by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency.
Additional details and application information about the FFFA may be found at www.hvadc.org or by calling 518-432-5360.
About HVADC: 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