Food industry expert to offer assistance to local food producers

CHARLESTON — Sari Kimbell, a consumer packaged food industry expert from Colorado, will lead a Group Accelerator Program for local food producers starting June 30, 2021.

Advantage Valley has partnered with Kimbell to offer technical assistance as part of the FASTER WV program, providing a niche business resource not currently available in West Virginia. Kimbell will offer access to her Food Business Success program, including nine modules with video and tools, checklists and strategies, three one-on-one sessions, three group workshops, and access to group calls for six months.

Advantage Valley’s FASTER WV Program recently offered a webinar on the benefits of co-packing and how to successfully scale up a food or beverage business. The new technical assistance program is geared toward businesses who want to grow sales by scaling up production for sales at farmer’s markets, on grocery store shelves, or for online sales.

“Scaling-up food or beverage production presents unique challenges and we feel that Sari will bring invaluable technical assistance to our local business people to help them succeed,” Terrell Ellis, executive director of Advantage Valley, said in a press release announcing the event. “Every product has its own particular set of issues, requirements and considerations, and we are thrilled to be offering this growth-process resource to local entrepreneurs.”

“After working with hundreds of food entrepreneurs, I created Food Business Success to help people feel confident and capable in their business,” said Kimbell. “I can give these small producers a process that save them time and money. I look forward to helping these West Virginia entrepreneurs with the FASTER WV program turn their delicious passion into a profitable food business!”

Food Business Success is an online, self-paced program to help entrepreneurs learn the basics of running a food business combined with one-on-one consulting and group coaching to help them implement their next steps that are right for their goals and their products.

FASTER WV partners include the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, BridgeValley Community & Technical College, Unlimited Future Inc., and the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority.

Major funding for the FASTER WV program is provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation with additional support from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Unlimited Future, Truist and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

RCBI unveils marketing services initiative

HUNTINGTON — The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University has launched an initiative to assist entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses in establishing an online presence and e-commerce capabilities.

RCBI Digital Frontiers offers a variety of services, including logo creation, product photography, e-commerce setup and operation, social media account creation and tutorials on how to maximize your online presence.

“In the digital age, establishing and maintaining a web presence is vital to the success of most companies — especially new ones,” said RCBI’s Evan Nelson, who is leading the new initiative. “Navigating the process can be confusing and overwhelming. RCBI is here to simplify that process for those without a digital presence.”

Nelson said the goal is not to compete with services provided by private industry, rather to give entrepreneurs and small businesses the basic tools they need to begin generating sales so they can afford to hire professionals to take their online presence to the next level.

“We simply offer an affordable option to assist with that all-important first step,” he said.

To learn more about Digital Frontiers, contact Nelson at [email protected] or 304-781-1657.

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