Inaugural class of Food Biz 101 graduates! - Foodlink Inc

Inaugural class of Food Biz 101 graduates!

A dozen local food entrepreneurs graduated from a first-of-its-kind program on Monday, and presented their new business plans to the community.

Participants in the Food Biz 101 program attended 10 workshops and heard from local industry and business development experts. The free program – an American Rescue Plan Act-funded initiative through the City of Rochester and organized by Foodlink and The Commissary – culminated March 11 with a graduation for 12 local residents. Participants engaged in panel discussions and hands-on-development to create “unique business model canvases.”

This pilot class of participants were invited from current Commissary members, the Ibero-American Action League’s Business Center, and alumni from the Foodlink Career Fellowship. The program allows them to understand and work through essential elements of their new businesses.

“We knew based on feedback from our Foodlink Career Fellowship Alumni network that this class was needed for aspiring and nascent food entrepreneurs,” said Jes Scannell, Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives. “What has been both unexpected and inspiring is the magnitude of generosity of our local food business community and the authentic engagement and peer support of the class participants. This is a vital investment in the potential of these entrepreneurs and the diversity of our vibrant local food scene.”

At the end of the series, each participant has a canvas of their business, a rich understanding of key business concepts, connections to local resources and networks, and financial incentives to take the next step in their own business.

“This Food Biz 101 program is a pure joy to be a part of and is the true definition of partnership and collaboration,” said Rhonda Destino, President of the Rochester Commissary. “There are business canvas model courses within our community that do a wonderful job and we learned from community partners to create this program to be specifically food-based! Each session grew our Food Biz community connections and comfort level with one another for the best impact in a condensed time frame. We asked the hard questions and chipped away at the layers and barriers of individualized next steps. We are also building a crowd-sourced resource tool that is relevant for all of the participants, even though each participant is building a different business and has different business experience.”

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