Food Business StartUp


***Thanks to everyone to joined the winter 2017 Food Business StartUp classes! Keep an eye on this page for the next series of classes!***


In partnership with the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and with the support of Freedom First Credit Union, Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is proud to announce VASBDCloc_2c_cmyk_Roanokethe creation of their Food Business StartUp, an incubator program for emerging food businesses.

For potential entrepreneurs, the hurdles to creating a successful food-based business can seem daunting. The aim of the Food StartUp program is to provide those considering starting a food business with the education, support, and resources they need for their venture to be successful.

“Having started a food business before, the most daunting part is not knowing what you don’t know. This program aims to give aspiring entrepreneurs the tools needed to plan and create successful new food businesses here in Roanoke,” says Sam Lev, LEAP Program Coordinator.

In January of 2017, the pilot program included free intensive education and training, in which local experts offered participants guidance and resources regarding many aspects of creating a food-based business. The sessions, which were held at LEAP’s shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator, The Kitchen, covered a range of relevant topics, including business planning; finances, budgeting, and taxes; food safety and regulation; and marketing and distribution. The free program connected participants with additional resources enabling them to further explore their food business dreams, including the free business counseling services offered by the Small Business Development Center.

While the first round of Food Business StartUp courses has passed, please feel free to contact us if you’d like to be notified of future opportunities or additional resources available to help you start your food business. pic-baking


Feel free to check out our Food Business Resource Sheet, where we’ve compiled links and contact information for relevant regulatory agencies and organizations in the Roanoke area, as well as some pertinent reading about the process of starting your own food business. If you’d like help navigating all these resources, please contact us!


StartUp Scholarship

In addition to the Food StartUp program, LEAP is offering a limited number of StartUp Scholarships to build on these sessions. The scholarships, which are made possible with financial support from Freedom First Credit Union’s Community Grant program, are designed for food entrepreneurs who are committed and ready to launch a food business, but need additional support. Scholarships are need- and income-based, and will provide:

  • Six hours of one-on- one consultation with LEAP and SBDC staff
  • One free Kitchen orientation session
  • One free session in The Kitchen to create samples for product testing and feedback
  • Following completion of the intensive four-week training and education, 20 hours of free time in The Kitchen (a $400 value)
  • Additional support and resources custom-tailored to the Scholarship recipient’s business plan

The deadline for applications is now closed. Feel free to contact us if you’d like information about additional opportunities and resources available to help you start the food business of your dreams.

LEAP Kitchen