by Muphen R. Whitney
When Founded – 2014
Founder – Kevin Atticks
Additional Investors – None
Headquarters – Cockeysville, MD
Number of Employees – 5
It was a light bulb moment for Grow and Fortify founder Kevin Atticks: his experience with wineries and breweries in Maryland pointed to the need for a strong organization to support the entire spectrum of value-added producers in the agricultural sector and to meet their needs as small business enterprises.
Cockeysville-based Grow and Fortify now has five employees, including Chief Operations Officer Janna Howley, who work each day to fill the needs of food and beverage value-added producers in Maryland.
“Our clients are in a highly-regulated sector – they have to deal with everything from local, county, State, and federal rules and regulations,” Howley said. “This is all very difficult to navigate, especially when you are just starting a business. We provide advocacy for these businesses by dealing directly with the regulators and developing a supportive environment. We argue why it is important that agricultural products need to be supported.”
Howley said that Grow and Fortify is looking forward to working with the Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center (CAIC) because of the track record Mike Thielke has for creating new resource hubs for businesses through his work as Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneur Center (ESEC – which manages CAIC).
“We see this as an opportunity for new energy in this sector,” Howley continued. “We will have the resources to help companies expand – to help take them to the next level in their efforts to compete and build strong businesses.”
According to Howley, Grow and Fortify will provide coaching sessions – especially for companies entering the regulation-rich alcoholic beverage sector. The company also will offer workshops focusing on growth and expansion for value-added start-ups in the areas of food, livestock, and agritourism.
Three Mentor Companies – Cureate, Grow and Fortify, and Kitchen Table Consultants – have been announced by CAIC, with more to follow. Mentors will be involved in program planning and development for the next few months. In June mentors will begin giving workshops and having office hours to provide personal mentoring for participants in CAIC’s programs.