The New Markets Accelerator is a pilot program that supported eight farmers, ranchers, and intermediaries across Colorado who wanted support in pivoting their business model. The accelerator offered free, high-touch consulting to support these businesses (for example, e-commerce support for direct-to-consumer sales or support identifying new market channels), plus access to a network of regional mentors in food and agriculture. The accelerator took place from February – October 2021.
Local Food Local Places was one of eight participants in the New Markets Accelerator in 2021.
In its basic form, an accelerator is a short-term, intensive, funding and mentorship experience that prepares organizations for success. As COVID-19 forced Colorado’s local farm and food businesses to shift their strategies and adapt to new market dynamics, an accelerator was an ideal way to get resources to these businesses and to build a support network for their long-term success.
After administering more than $2 million in COVID-19 relief grants to small- and mid-sized farmers, ranchers, and intermediaries across Colorado, the Colorado Farm & Food Systems Response Team analyzed data gathered from the process and discovered there remain significant, ongoing, unmet needs for many of the businesses that sought relief funding. Specifically, many producers and intermediaries needed technical assistance and business support for selling into emerging market channels — including online sales, food assistance programs and other direct-to-consumer outlets. The National Western Center — one of 14 organizations making up the response team — received funding to launch a pilot program to meet this need.
Values-based accelerators like this one support businesses tackling social or environmental challenges — like local, sustainable food production. As part of the National Western Center’s food systems vision to enhance the state’s food economy, the structured partnership model of this accelerator brought together regional capital, systems thinkers, and food and farm business leaders focused on building a better, fairer, and more resilient future for Colorado.
The pilot was made possible by a generous grant from the Colorado Health Foundation. The accelerator is a program of the National Western Center, coordinated with the support of Kitchen Sync Strategies.
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