Help's on the menu for Northumberland food and beverage entrepreneurs

Cobourg entrepreneur Lucas Herron is recognizing a program of the Business & Entrepreneur Centre Northumberland (BECN) for supporting him in his journey to bring his unique spice blend offerings to market in Northumberland and Peterborough counties.

Herron, who owns Arrowmatic Food, creates small-batch artisan spice blends using Canadian salt, maple sugar, and freshly ground Ontario-milled spices. Arrowmatic products are now available in retail locations in the area.

The foodie participated in the BECN's food and beverage consumer packaged goods (CPG) development group. The group connects local business owners with entrepreneurs from the same industry to help them grow their business.

As part of this group, business owners can share knowledge, learn from their peers, receive free business coaching, and access micro grants to scale up their business, the BECN noted in a media release.

The specialized group targets businesses that sell food or beverage CPG for wholesale distribution that are aiming to expand their business regionally, provincially, nationally, or globally.

"The BECN's food and beverage CPG development group has helped me immensely with growing my business," Herron said. "When I first joined the group, I was looking for a local facility to help manufacture my products. I was able to find this support through a partnership with another local business owner in the group."

"If it weren't for this program, I never would've made this valuable connection, and would've been travelling over an hour and a half each month to produce our blends. I have gained a lot of value from this group and would definitely recommend it to local food and beverage CPG businesses."

CPG businesses include product-based outfits that sell retail-ready packaged food and beverages, such as drinks, sauces, spices, snacks, and more.

The group has supported many local businesses in Northumberland County, including Saucy Dotty's Gourmet Sauce in Brighton, The Lass & Ladle in Grafton, MillStone Bread in Cobourg, The Awesome Olive in Cobourg, Rice Lake Hard Cider in Baltimore, Mi Cocina from Cobourg, Lalies & The Dutch in Cobourg, and Nutes Nutrition from Cobourg.

In this group, business owners get a chance to share ideas, best practices, strategies, and knowledge through peer-to-peer sessions, virtual coaching sessions, workshops, and business-to-business collaborations.

Members also have access to micro grant and external funding notifications, online education, digital assessments, and development programs "to enhance their business skills and help their business thrive," BECN said.

The food and beverage CPG development group is open to small businesses and clients of the Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre (OAFVC) located in Northumberland.

The OAFVC is a unique food manufacturing facility designed, built, and staffed, to serve "as a launchpad" for food entrepreneurs moving into the next phase of business growth. Located in Colborne, the OAFVC provides access to safe, clean, food manufacturing spaces and qualified production support staff.

To participate in the food and beverage CPG development group, businesses must be independent food and beverage CPG manufacturers or producers that have been in business for at least one year.

The BECN also offers a number of other programs and services to support small businesses in various stages and sectors of business. To learn more about the food and beverage CPG development group, or other programs and services available for small business owners through the BECN, visit becn.ca.

To learn more about the OAFVC, visit oafvc.ca.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, KawarthaNOW