From restaurants and coffee shops to breweries and bakeries, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center is looking to boost food and beverage businesses in four central Arkansas counties this year.
The center, based at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, is offering specialized programming and consulting for food- or beverage-related businesses in Faulkner, Jefferson, Pulaski and White counties in 2018.
The project is funded by a $100,000 Portable Assistance grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“The food-and-beverage sector is a mainstay of our economy that serves residents and tourists. Food, tourism and hospitality go hand-in-hand in central Arkansas,” said Laura Fine, ASBTDC state director. “Our goal is to support new and established small businesses in the industry by giving them tools and skills they can use to reach more customers, increase sales, and create jobs.”
Starting in February, ASBTDC will hold a series of events for prospective and current owners of small businesses that grow, make or sell foods or beverages. All are free, though pre-registration is required.
The first is The Dish on Feb. 15 at The Joint in North Little Rock. Three local “foodpreneurs” will give short talks and answer questions about how they cater to today’s discerning and demanding consumer. Scheduled to speak are Amy Moorehead of Nexus Coffee and Creative, Jack Sundell of The Root Café, and Collin McReynolds of Crave Fuel.
ASBTDC has invited local food advocate Martin Butts to present two half-day workshops and a full-day food product “boot camp” in Little Rock. Butts is owner of Small Potatoes, a boutique consulting firm in Syracuse, N.Y., that specializes in working with small-scale and startup food businesses of all kinds.
On March 15, Butts will lead “ABCs of Starting a Food Business” in the morning and “Running a Great Farmers Market Booth” in the afternoon. The boot camp, “Breaking Out in the New Food Economy,” is coming at a later date still to be determined.
Lean Canvas workshops will take place April 3 in Little Rock and May 15 in Searcy. The center has customized the canvas – a quick and efficient planning tool for developing a business idea – for startup food or beverage businesses.
For more information about any event, contact ASBTDC’s Shannon Roberts @firstname.lastname@example.org or (501) 683-7700.
The center also is looking to work one-on-one with prospective or current business owners who need assistance with getting started, obtaining financing, marketing or expanding a business. Available at no cost, consulting and market research services can be tailored to individual needs.
Any food or beverage business in the four-county area can request a customized Market Snapshot which shows key economic and customer indicators for the local area.
Call the center at (501) 683-7700 to set up a consulting appointment or request a free Market Snapshot.
Contributing Writer: Gwen Green / Communications Coordinator / Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center
The ASBTDC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with SBA through a partnership with the UA Little Rock College of Business and other institutions of higher education. The center serves new, existing and innovation-based small businesses across Arkansas. All ASBTDC programs are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for limited English proficient (LEP) individuals. Reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.