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Food, farm and forest businesses invited to learn and network

MIDDLEBURY — Small business owners and entrepreneurs associated with Vermont’s working lands will gather with capital and service providers in Addison County on Thursday, Nov. 7, for the third annual Financing the Working Landscape Conference. The annual business symposium, which is produced by Addison County Economic Development Corp. (ACEDC) and Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN) and features entrepreneur pitches and expert feedback on specific growth challenges, begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Middlebury American Legion.
Attendees can register online at acornvt.org/fwl2013. The conference fee is $30 ($20 for students), and includes a local foods lunch prepared by student chefs from the Patricia A. Hannaford Career Center.
The post-event networking hour features not only drinks and appetizers from craft beverage makers and local food artisans, but also product demonstrations. Small business owners with prototypes can receive direct feedback from attendees that may inform decisions about marketing, development and production of new products.
“We are truly excited to again be bringing people from our investment and services communities together with local innovators to focus on the important issues of financing and growing businesses that are part of Vermont’s working landscape,” said Robin Scheu, executive director of ACEDC. “Attendees learn a lot from the presentations and also from engaging with others throughout the day,” she said.
“The working landscape is a great opportunity to begin to mobilize local capital and revitalize the economy from the ground up,” said Jonathan Corcoran, president of ACORN. He added, “It’s really exciting to see young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and launch business that are going to create jobs. This conference is about supporting the innovators, the risk-takers who start something that may benefit everyone.”
A highlight of the conference will again be the Entrepreneur Showcase, which is an opportunity for startups and new ventures to hone their “elevator pitch.” Four local entrepreneurs will make their best 3-minute pitch to a panel of experts from the investment community.
Three local entrepreneurs will participate in this year’s Challenge Presentation, an opportunity to highlight a specific issue they are facing in their businesses. A panel of experts — business owners, investors and business advisers — will then ask questions and provide constructive feedback for action steps to effectively address the challenge and to move the business forward.
Additionally, participants can choose one of two workshop tracks: Early Stage or Established Business. 
Additional information is available online at acornvt.org/fwl2013.

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