The Virtual Food Entrepreneur Initiative will bring together experts from multiple disciplines to help hopeful entrepreneurs get their product ready for market, find financing and negotiate a maze of regulations. In a state that lacks large industries to provide well-paying jobs, entrepreneurship is a viable alternative.
Locally grown and produced foods are enjoying increased popularity. However, while a cattle farmer might know how to grow organic beef, he or she often is unknowledgeable about how to market such a product; connect with potential purveyors of the product, such as grocery stores and school lunch programs; find financing; and develop cash flow projections.
The Virtual Food Entrepreneur Initiative will address the gap. Our experts have the knowledge to help with business planning, find co-packers, develop nutrition labeling and test products for shelf life and testing.
Many of those who do have jobs in Alabama could be classified as “working poor,” and many are unemployed. Although the statewide unemployment rate currently is just under 10 percent, there are counties where unemployment approaches 20 percent. Some of these counties are located in areas where infrastructure is so poor and educational levels are so low that industry is unlikely to locate there, and the tax base is too feeble to offer attractive incentives. Entrepreneurship offers hope, and food entrepreneurship offers possibilities. One successful food entrepreneur could provide jobs for his or her neighbors, and a cycle of success could start. The Food Entrepreneur Initiative will be open to anyone with a good idea and the initiative to pursue marketing that idea, but Alabama’s underprivileged stand to be most affected if the Virtual Food Entrepreneur Initiative is successful.