USDA grant will allow food entrepreneurs to gain knowledge, skills for success

A $58,000 grant will help spur food entrepreneurship in the Wiregrass.

A $58,000 grant will help spur food entrepreneurship in the Wiregrass.

A $58,000-plus grant from the USDA will help Troy University’s Small Business Development Center and the Sorrell College of Business provide bootcamps for food entrepreneurs and farm-to-retail entrepreneurs.

The SBDC Rural Outreach Food Venture Program will reach up to 20 participants each in two 12-week workshops. The SBDC at TROY covers a 10-county area that includes Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, and Pike counties.

“This is an excellent opportunity to obtain advice and support from experts in each topic, and business owners can save thousands of dollars with a program presented at no cost to them,” said SBDC Director Juliana Bolivar.

The Early-stage Food Entrepreneur Workshop targets those people who have not formalized their venture and those who have been selling products in local markets who are ready to take their business to the next level. The workshop will cover the advantages of the 2021 Cottage Food Law and its promotion of rural businesses without access to commercial kitchens.

By the end of the course, participants will have a solid business plan for launch of a business or new line of business; gain the knowledge and skills necessary to have a prototype completed; and have a business pitch perfected for potential distributors. 

“The first cycle is an opportunity for people to do a business out of that extraordinary family recipe they could transform into a retail-ready product, a home-based business, and new food startups in our local economy,” Bolivar said.

The Farm to Retail Workshop is designed for entrepreneurs, small to medium-sized farmers and food product owners to turn recipes into retail-ready products, and how they can create and grow rural culinary tourism.

“During the second cycle, our existing entrepreneurs can develop strategies to launch new sources of revenue and enrich our area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem using recent trends and gaining new skills,” Bolivar said.

Topics of this class include turning small-batch recipes into scalable recipes for large-scale production and retail sale, sustainable food business practices, culinary tourism, the psychology of food branding, purchasing behavior and food-specific marketing, food packaging and nutrition labeling requirements, food safety principles, and basic food business operations.

Both programs will be presented both online and in-person at the IDEA Bank on the Square in downtown Troy and are free-of-charge. For more information, or to register, contact the SBDC at TROY (334) 808-6793 or online at