GFBA Fellows will have high-profile roles during the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference and its Financing Fair on Thursday, March 24, which kicks off FamilyFarmed’s three-day, 12th annual Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago. Some of the Fellows also will be participating as exhibitors or vendors at the Good Food Industry Conference on Friday, March 25 and the Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 26.
By Bob Benenson and Rebecca Frabizio, FamilyFarmed
The nine Fellows participating in the second cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator represent a wide range of exciting entrepreneurial ventures — from bakeries to a prepared meal kitchen to an herb farm, from an apple orchard and cidery to packaged Latino food products to a kombucha maker, and more.
These Fellows were competitively selected from a group of excellent applicants. They are currently about halfway through the six-month program that includes an intensive business development curriculum, mentoring by industry leaders, and connections to a network of Good Food investors and financiers.
The Good Food Business Accelerator is based at 1871, Chicago’s center for business incubation and innovation, and extends the long-running efforts by FamilyFarmed — a Chicago-based nonprofit — to expand both supply of and demand for Good Food. The Fellows’ businesses are located in and service the Chicago foodshed and follow Good Food principles, defined by FamilyFarmed as food produced as locally as possible using sustainable, humane and fair practices.
The Good Food Business Accelerator is one of the latest evolutions of FamilyFarmed’s efforts to help expand this fast-growing sector, which include its annual Good Food Festival & Conference and Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, held each March at Chicago’s UIC Forum. (For more information on this year’s conference, see goodfoodfestivals.com)
Members of this year’s Good Food Business Accelerator will be pitching to investors at the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference on March 24, which includes a Financing Fair and is specifically aimed at connecting farm and food businesses with investors, lenders and other funding to help them gain the capital they need to innovate and grow. Some of the Fellows’ businesses will also be participating in the Good Food Festival & Conference as exhibitors or as vendors at the event’s Good Food Court.
These businesses, all located in Illinois unless noted, are (in alphabetical order):
For more information on these businesses and profiles of the Fellows, go to www.goodfoodaccelerator.org.
The 2015-16 program is built upon the successes of the Accelerator’s first year. “Our Fellows developed their businesses and grew, across the board,” said Jim Slama, president and founder of FamilyFarmed.
He continued, “Developing networks, and establishing a community of like-minded stakeholders, will continue to build the local food system in the Chicago foodshed. And as this happens, the economic impacts on the greater community should grow.”
The immediate impacts of the Good Food Business Accelerator are evident in the first year’s program metrics reported by FamilyFarmed last August. Within three months of the graduation of the first cohort of Fellows, participating businesses that participated in the Accelerator’s first year averaged a 62 percent increase in sales, a 107 percent increase in the number of customers and a 68 percent increase in the number of employees.
In real numbers, the Accelerator businesses had increased their market sales by a cumulative $1.7 million (a 45 percent rise); created a total of nearly 33 full-time and part-time jobs while retaining nearly 48 positions; and established 360 new markets for their products.
The 2014-15 Accelerator businesses, all located in Illinois, are:
• The Urban Canopy (Chicago): produces food on urban farms and collects food scraps for composting (GFBA profile)
The Good Food Business Accelerator benefits from financial support provided by Food:Land:Opportunity — Localizing the Chicago Foodshed, a joint effort of The Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust that is funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust; JPMorgan Chase & Co.; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Whole Foods Market; UNFI; and 1st Farm Credit.
[Food:Land:Opportunity is currently staging the Food to Market Challenge, a competition that will provide a $500,000 award to the team that proposes the best idea for improving the local food supply chain. Please click here for a Good Food on Every Article about the challenge.]
For more information about the Good Food Business Accelerator, or to arrange for an interview about it with President Jim Slama, please contact Rebecca Frabizio at 312-874-7361 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.