Food business incubator program created

In partnership with the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and with support of Freedom First Credit Union Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is proud to announce the creation of their Food StartUp, an incubator program for emerging food businesses. For potential entrepreneurs, the barriers to create a successful food-based business can be overwhelming. The aim of the program is to provide people who are considering starting a food business with education, support, and resources to guide the process.

“Having started a food business before, the most daunting part is not knowing what you don’t know. This program aims to give aspiring entrepreneurs the tools needed to plan and create successful new food businesses in Roanoke,” says Sam Lev, LEAP Program Coordinator.

The program will include four free intensive education and training sessions, happening each Thursday in January from 6-8pm. These sessions, led by local experts, will cover a range of relevant topics including business planning, finances, food safety and regulation, marketing, and distribution. The Food StartUp program and all sessions will be held at LEAP’s shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator in Roanoke’s West End, The Kitchen.

The Food StartUp sessions will connect participants to additional resources including free business counseling services offered by the Small Business Development Center.

In addition to the Food StartUp program, LEAP is offering a limited number of StartUp Scholarships, made possible thanks to Freedom First Credit Union’s Community Grant program, designed for food entrepreneurs who are committed and ready to launch a food business, but need additional support.

Scholarships (need- and income-based) will provide: * Six hours of 1-on-1 consultation with LEAP and SBDC staff; * One free Kitchen orientation session (a $50 value); • One free session in The Kitchen to create samples for product testing and feedback.

Following completion of the intensive four-week training and education, 20 hours of free time in The Kitchen (a $400 value) and additional support and resources custom-tailored to the Scholarship recipient’s business plan will be provided.

Applications for the StartUp Scholarships as well as more information about the Food StartUp program are available at LEAP.  Contact: LEAP Program Coordinator, Sam Lev at 540-632-1360.