Don't Miss Out on the Next Producers Startup Program Beginning July 12th – Reserve Your Spot Now!


Calling All Value-Added Producers in Maryland and Delaware

Are you ready to significantly increase your revenue?

Our six-month program is designed to help Value-Added Producers scale their business through industry connections and business coaching with one-on-one support. You qualify for this program if you are a full-time value-added producer in Maryland or Delaware or your primary income is farming. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Apply now!

The CAIC Producers Growth Program

The Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) is excited to present the Producers Growth Program, a six-month program designed to help Value-Added Producers scale their business.

Throughout the program you will make industry connections, and you will have one-on-one support and coaching. You will consult with mentors specifically choosen for your needs, and you will learn best business practices by using a proven systematized approach to scaling.

Program Overview

Participants will develop an outline of their proposed accomplish for the program. Using our Foundertrac system they will be able to track their progress.


Every two weeks there will be a one-on-one coaching zoom call with the Program Manager to review progress and to ensure participants are on track. There will be Mentors and Subject Matter Experts available at any point during the course of the program to consult with participants. These industry professionals will answer any questions and guide participants in achieving their proposed accomplishements.


Once a month there will be a field trip to a location that is relevant to Value-Added Producers. We plan on visiting packing houses, production facilities, farms, and retail and wholese establishements. These visits will educate and inspire participants for taking the next step in their journey and will foster in-person interaction among members of the program. Field trip locations will include Maryland and Delaware.


At the end of the program there will be a celebration and vendor fair where participants will have an opportunity to showcase their products to potential buyers. There will be prizes and awards for program participants.

Who is eligible to participate?

All participants must demonstrate a high level of commitment to the program, and they must be fully dedicated to their business and products. The October 2022 cohort will be limited to 12  participants to foster deep connections and to provide personalized attention.

Full-time Value-Added Producers

Value-Added Producers in Maryland and Delaware who are dedicated to their business and who generate $40,000 or more in yearly revenue.

Full-time farmers

Farmers whose primary income is from farming and who already have a Value-Added product generating sales of at least $20,000.

How will this program benefit Value-Added Producers?

Our program will help food producers scale to the point of identifying and negotiating contracts with entities such as restaurant owners, supermarkets, schools, and hospitals. Value-Added Producer need well thought-out business and marketing plans to be considered for such contracts. These plans must include elements such as logistics, product development, food traceability, process documentation, financial management, leadership, regional brand access, and marketing. The CAIC Producers Growth Program will provide participants with the knowledge, tools, and support to take their businesess to the next level.

What is the time commitment?

This program requires a commitment to be successful. Therefore, participants should plan on dedicating at least 10 hours per week to the program. This is a hands-on program — not a passive, educational class. You are a perfect candidate to join our program if you are willing to put in the work to scale your business.

Program schedule


October and November – Information transfer, assessment and validation of the business, and development of Scaling Plan. 


·      1st week of October — Orientation Call

·      1st week of October — What Is Scaling?/How Do I Know If I Am Ready to Scale?

·      2nd week of October — Risk Assessment/SWOT Analysis

·      3rd week of October — Legal Considerations Including Employment Practices

·      4th week of October — Understanding Financial Statements and Investor Options

·      1st week of November — Determining the New Market Size and Demographics; Pricing Considerations

·      2nd week of November — How to Find and Evaluate the Best Service Providers/When and How to Outsource

·      3rd week of November — How to Access Institutional and Wholesale Buyers

·      4th week of November — Thanksgiving Break

·      5th week of November – Elements of an All-Encompassing Business Growth Plan

·      1st week of December – Presentation of Preliminary Scaling Plan; Feedback from CAIC Staff.

In Person

December, January, February, and March – Implementation of your Scaling Plan


·      December — Union Kitchen

·      January — A Copacker (Location TBD)

·      February — Product Buyer (Giant, Whole Foods – Location TBD)

·      March — Final event (Keynote Speaker, vendor fair, presentation of outcomes)

Is there a cost to participate in this program?

We are asking each participant to pay a modest fee of $350 to cover program costs. This includes access to Foundertrac, which is a software system that hill help you determine and document your business’s growth. We can keep our program cost low because many elements of the program are funded by grants.

Participants who are successful at meeting their established goals and milestones will receive Mini-Grants worth up to $3,000. Participants can use the Mini-Grants to fund market research and product development or to attract new customers through marketing and branding efforts.


Here is what previous participants have shared about our program.

What are the steps to enroll?

The first step to enroll is to fill out our registration form. Qualified participants will receive a phone call from our Program Manager and will participate in a 20-minute interview/orientation call. Those who are approved to participate will receive a link to pay the program fee. The program starts in October 2022 and runs through March 2023. Those who do not qualify will be able to participate on the Business Startup for Value Added Producers Program.

Contact Emiliano Espinosa at [email protected] with any questions.


Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.