Food Entrepreneurship Committee

Innovation

Agri-food and agri-tourism is growing regionally and the Food Entrepreneurship Committee is being recognized for their support to the industry. The Food Entrepreneurship Committee, an ad hoc group comprised of municipal representatives and Georgian College staff, won the 2015 Board of Governors’ Partner Award from Georgian College. The award recognizes partners who have made exemplary contributions to the community in line with Georgian’s strategic priorities. One of those priorities is entrepreneurship.

“Agri-food presents a significant opportunity locally for economic development and tourism,” said Philly Markowitz, Economic Development Officer with Grey County and Chair of the Food Entrepreneurship Committee. “This committee was formed to bring partners together. Everyone has a seat at the table and together the group listens to the needs of business owners and strategizes ways to empower food entrepreneurs and connect them with the tools they need to succeed.”

The committee has included municipal and organization representatives from Grey, Bruce and Simcoe Counties to date and hopes to invite participation from neighbouring counties in the near future.

“The food Entrepreneurship Committee is a phenomenal group of community partners who have been instrumental in creating a buzz about the value of food business in communities across central Ontario. We’re all about growing the economy one bite or sip at a time,” said Barb Shopland, Director of Strategic Projects Hospitality and Business at Georgian College.
One way the committee is helping grow the economy is through agri-food events like the one at Georgian College on April 20. Food Entrepreneurs: Growing Innovation was a seminar created to help local food and beverage producers and aspiring artisan food producers understand how to cultivate a successful business. Attendees heard success stories from local food entrepreneurs and had the opportunity to network with community agri-business champions.

Another major success story from the past year was the development of the Food Safety Regulatory Training program. Complicated Canadian food regulations can be an overwhelming barrier for small businesses. This unique course helps entrepreneurs understand regulations so they can confidently produce food products and grow their businesses along with the local economy. The program was developed through a partnership with the College, the Grey Bruce Health Unit, industry advisors, and municipal partners. It was successfully delivered in Owen Sound, Barrie and Collingwood in 2014 and early 2015. Many business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs attended including farmers, caterers and small-scale processors.

The Food Entrepreneurship Committee is showing no signs of slowing down. In total, five agri-food events are already planned for 2015 across participating counties.