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Emerging Business Program

Build a Foundation for Sustained Business Growth

Implement the systems and structures that you’ll need for your company to thrive, and avoid common pitfalls, with CAIC’s new Emerging Business Program.

Businesses are at the greatest risk of failure between their second and fifth years of operation—an often-overlooked point when many owners experience early-stage problems with system integration, operational efficiency, and personnel. How can your company avoid these pitfalls and prepare for sustained growth? Learn how during this free 12-week program that combines classroom training and one-on-one consulting. Designed for companies that are beyond the startup phase, but still in the early stages of growth, the Emerging Business Program will help you build sustainable structures and address issues before you scale.

The Program Experience

The free 12-week Emerging Business Program is designed for value-added producers and CPG companies at a unique, often-overlooked stage of development. Through a combination of classroom instruction and individual counseling, you’ll acquire the knowledge and strategies you need to move forward with your business goals.

  • Learning to Act Early. Working with an instructor who has a track record of helping companies grow sustainably, you’ll develop the ability to analyze problems early in the business cycle—before they turn into insurmountable challenges. 
  • Building Strong Foundations and Systems. Common early-stage challenges include problems with system integration, operational efficiency, and personnel. With that in mind, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to increase operational efficiency, and to integrate strategies and systems to improve operational growth.
  • Securing Essential Capital. You’ll learn to effectively manage your company’s cash flow and finances, and how to position yourself to secure the capital you need for the next steps in your company’s growth.
  • Making the Right Choices. During classes and mentoring sessions, you’ll learn how to understand and analyze the markets—and how to use that information to make the right decisions for your business.

Program Overview

The Emerging Business Program combines classroom training with one-on-one consulting, helping you identify challenges and put systematic processes in place to facilitate growth.

  • At the start of the course, you’ll undergo an assessment of your company’s position, strengths, and challenges, so that your mentor can meet you at the right level. Together, you’ll set goals and create strategies for sustainable growth.
  • Weekly class sessions will cover a range of need-to-know topics for emerging companies, including effectively managing cash flow and finances, hiring and outsourcing strategies, targeting new markets, and more. They’ll also give you a chance to connect with other business owners at similar growth stages.
  • Each week, you’ll have a standing Zoom meeting with the instructor or a mentor, during which you’ll go over the weekly topic and learn how to apply the lessons to the specific circumstances of your business.
  • By the end of the course, you’ll have gained the ability to analyze problems early in the business cycle, and the knowledge and skills you need to increase operational efficiency. You’ll also know how to position yourself to secure essential capital for future growth, and will have a framework for making sound, market-informed business decisions.

Program schedule

Our first cohort will begin on March 6, 2024, with all future meetings taking place via Zoom on Wednesdays from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Here’s an overview of the program curriculum.


Who’s Eligible?

The Emerging Business Program is designed for value-added producers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) company owners in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. To see if it might be the right fit for you, ask yourself the following questions:


  • Do you see opportunities in the market, but need to learn how to position your business for success? 
  • Are you wondering how to grow your business, and still trying to build the capacity to move forward? 
  • Are you missing opportunities in the market because you’re buried in your company’s daily operations?  
  • Do you have a strategy to access the capital necessary for market growth?  


If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider applying to the Emerging Business Program! You must also meet the following criteria:


  • Own a company in good standing that has been in business for at least one year, and work there full time. 
  • Generate at least $25,000 in revenue from your company.
  • Be willing and able to commit at least four hours per week to the 12-week program.

Program Instructor

Brian Brown


Brian Brown has been an economic development professional for 20 years, holding leadership roles in the areas of security, media, real estate, architecture, and engineering. Currently, he serves as the Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center’s lead business consultant, and as a mentor in our Producers Growth Program. Mr. Brown is also the business development manager for the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (RCAP) Inc. Prior to that, he was the executive director of the Halifax Industrial Development Authority.

How to Apply

Please fill out and submit the application form.

Participant Commitment

We estimate that the time commitment each week will be approximately four hours. 


  • During the 12-week program, you’ll be expected to attend weekly Zoom class sessions (each Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.). 
  • Each week, you’ll also have a standing Zoom meeting with the instructor or a mentor. This will give you a chance to go over the weekly class topic, and to figure out how to apply what you’ve learned to the specific circumstances of your business.


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.