A National Western Center program supporting Colorado food and farm businesses

people in a meeting with laptopsThe New Markets Accelerator is a 2-month-long pilot program that will support 8-10 farmers, ranchers, and intermediaries across Colorado who want support in pivoting their business model. The accelerator offers 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 will take place from February – March 2021.

About the Accelerator

In its basic form, an accelerator is a short-term, intensive, funding and mentorship experience that prepares organizations for success. As COVID-19 continues forcing Colorado’s local farm and food businesses to shift their strategies and adapt to new market dynamics, an accelerator is an ideal way to get resources to these businesses and to build a support network for their long-term success.

Why offer this program?

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 need 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 will bring 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 is made possible by a generous grant from the Colorado Health Foundation.

Become a volunteer mentor

We are recruiting a network of individuals with direct experience with the challenges Colorado’s producers and intermediaries are facing. For this network, we are seeking individuals:

  • with significant firsthand experience farming, ranching, and/or aggregating Colorado-grown products
  • with expertise in online marketing, online sales and communications
  • from organizations that support local, sustainable, equitable food systems in Colorado
  • with strong experience in other aspects of the business of agriculture or food

Now seeking mentors!

Learn more and apply here.

Become a paid consultant

The National Western Center has released a request for proposals (RFP) for business consulting to support the New Markets Accelerator. The scope of the project entails the consultant providing about 40 hours of services for each business to which it is paired. Respondents must have demonstrated success supporting farms, ranches, and/or intermediaries to increase their economic viability and sales. Respondents must provide examples and brief descriptions of previous successes working with food and farm businesses, including references for past work. Preference will be given to consultants with demonstrated experience working with food and farm businesses based in Colorado and/or the Mountain West.

Consultant applications now open!

Please review this overview for consultants (PDF) before applying, and then apply here by February 15, 2021!

Contact

The accelerator is a program of the National Western Center, coordinated with the support of Kitchen Sync Strategies.

Questions? Please contact Grace Hanover, associate director of programming: g.hanover@nationalwesterncenter.com.

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