The week of October 25, 2015 was declared Food Entrepreneurship Week in Simcoe County to celebrate those gastronomic entrepreneurs who make a business out of growing, processing, and selling food-related products across the region. To celebrate the declaration (Oct. 26 and 28) Georgian College and community partners welcomed over 200 food entrepreneurs to the Orillia and Midland Food Entrepreneurship Seminars. The seminars were part of a successful series led by Georgian College that have been sweeping across communities in Central Ontario.
To date, over 700 food-related entrepreneurs have come out to learn from experts, ranging from entrepreneurs, product developers, support organizations, food inspection, and government. Each day consisted of 2 -3 expert panel discussions. Panels ranged from regional food entrepreneurs sharing their story, to funding and resources experts, to considerations for requirements and regulations related to business growth. The day also included interactive workshops that allowed attendees to connect with other entrepreneurs through a facilitated networking session, or perfect their product and investment pitch. As an additional value-added component, each event featured 20-25 food entrepreneur leaders from across the region who sampled their tasty products and provided information, advice, and potential business connections. While attendees loved the organized learning opportunities, it always seems like entrepreneurs get the most benefit from networking with their peers, and the follow up survey certainly indicated that they found the opportunity to spend the day learning and connecting with their fellow entrepreneurs very valuable. These events have created local networks that are now working together to continue to provide opportunities for food entrepreneurs to network, learn, and grow.
If this sounds like a great learning opportunity for you, a client you work with, or a friend or family member you may know, there is good news! Thanks to the success of the regional seminars, Georgian College, the Agri-Food Management Institute, the County of Simcoe, and OMAFRA have partnered together to host the all-Ontario Food Entrepreneurship Conference on March 3 and 4, 2016 at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Food Entrepreneurs: Building Ontario Innovation One Product at a Time is a full day of learning and discussion with entrepreneurs in the value added food sector from across Ontario. Are you looking to take you food business to the next level? March 3 offers the chance to participate in two value-added workshops from Georgian College, Introduction to Food Safety Regulations and Introduction to Nutrition Labelling, as well as evening networking with workshop attendees. On March 4, 11 panels of experts will increase your understanding of how to develop, market, grow and export your products, and everything in between! This conference will feature great networking opportunities with 500-700 other food entrepreneurs from across the province.
To learn more and register, visit www.georgiancollege.ca/FEON.
Also, for our Muskoka and Near North partners, watch out for a future regional food entrepreneurship event coming up in Bracebridge in Spring of 2016.