There’s no shortage of talented cooks in Flint and Genesee County. In the last five years, residents happily witnessed a steady stream of food-based businesses move from home-based kitchen counter operations to mobile food truck and bricks and mortar locations.
That’s a good thing, according to area small business advocates like Sean Gartland.
The certified chef and culinary director of Flint Food Works applauds the many who have made it, but also worries about those that should be rising, but aren’t.
In most cases, the would-be start-ups stall due to issues that could easily be addressed with training and mentorship.
That’s why Gartland partnered with and obtained local licensing for CO.STARTERS, a national program focused on helping food business entrepreneurs start, shape and/or grow their food-based businesses. Classes are focused on the basics like understanding the (food) and certification process.
Over the course of just 9-weeks, Gartland and his team will help 10 – 15 fledging food start-ups take flight.
“Our program equips aspiring entrepreneurs with the insights, relationships, and tools needed to turn business ideas into actions and turn passion into a sustainable and thriving business,” says Gartland.
CO.STARTERS will fine tune their businesses and business ideas in a hands-on, approachable way, according to Garland.
“Utilizing the business model canvas, participants will test their ideas, tweak next steps through real-time customer feedback, learn valuable management and marketing skills, and receive constructive feedback from advisers, peers and local business owners,” he says.
The specialized curriculum will also address essential food-biz topics, including food branding, navigating local and state food regulations and financial planning.
“CO.STARTERS is a design build program,” says Gartland, who emphasizes that participants will leave the program armed with a deeper understanding of how to create a sustainable business venture.
The Fall cohort starts in October, according to Garland. Classes met on Tuesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 .m. at the Flint Farmers’ Market beginning Oct. 15th and conclude on December 17th.
Ending half-baked business ventures is a worthy goal and one Gartland hopes will draw rave reviews among participants and patrons alike. Together, we rise.
Editor’s Note; For additional information on the program email CO.STARTERS@FoodWorks.com. The course feee is $200. A limited number of need-based scholarships are avaialable. To enroll in CO.STARTERS, click on this application ink.