Scale Your Local Catch

Operating a direct seafood business requires a wide range of skills and expertise. In many cases, seafood harvesters that participate in direct marketing also need to purchase additional permits, equipment, and insurance. These factors make direct marketing significantly different than selling to a middleman. To help new and established direct marketing businesses achieve their goals, the Local Catch Network is teaming up with Ecotrust to offer a cohort-based accelerator. 

Scale Your Local Catch (SYLC) is a nation-wide, producer-centered business accelerator developed to strengthen local and regional seafood systems by addressing challenges associated with direct marketing and by building the knowledge, skills, and networks needed for direct marketing seafood businesses to scale up their operations and increase their capacity and viability for long-term resilience. 

Scale Your Local Catch Details

Applications will be accepted until Friday, October 14, 2022. Up to 15 businesses will be accepted into the SYLC program. Because of this, the application process is competitive and not all businesses that apply for SYLC will be accepted into the program. For reference, in 2021 there was a ~30% acceptance rate. 

Apply for Scale Your Local Catch.

Sign up for the SYLC information session on September 14th @ 4pm ET to learn more. 

Community and values-based seafood businesses in the United States who are interested in scaling up their operations, and sell a portion of their catch directly to consumers through community supported fisheries (CSF), restaurants, institutions, and/or other similar outlets are invited to apply. Access to the internet, a computer and a webcam with a microphone are required to participate. 

Successful applicants will be businesses who meet the following selection criteria:

  • Have operated a business for a minimum of 2 years in the United States and have tangible experience in business planning, strategy, finance, and direct marketing.
  • Identify as a small- or mid-sized seafood business.
  • Interested in scaling up gross annual revenue.
  • In alignment with LCN’s core values, participants must show a demonstrated commitment to stewarding environmental resources, fostering healthy ecosystems, using sustainable production and harvesting practices. 
  • Seek to engage or are engaging in anti-racism, food/environmental justice, and/or food sovereignty activities to transform our current food system to a more equitable one.
  • Committed to increasing access of seafood within communities. 
  • Committed to equitable labor practices (paying a living wage, fair hiring process and treatment of workers, ensuring safety of crew, etc.).
  • Committed to community-building via a willingness to serve as a mentor to a Local Catch Network member as well as other collaborative efforts that emerge.
  • Owner/founder/manager(s) available and committed to actively participate in accelerator activities, including attending weekly virtual trainings, webinars, doing offline work as assigned, responding to program-related communications, filling out evaluations, etc.

Preference will be given to fishers and harvesters who:

 

Scale Your Local Catch participants will learn alongside their peers during weekly to bi-weekly, 1.5 hour-long virtual training sessions scheduled between December 2022-April 2023. Review the “Program at a Glance” for dates and times of SYLC sessions. 

SYLC sessions are led by service providers who understand the unique needs of fishers and seafood harvesters. SYLC participants can expect to deepen their knowledge and competencies in the following areas; 

  • Value Added Producer Grants
  • Business Structure/Entity Formation 
  • Contracts and Partnerships
  • Accounting Framework for Managing Liquidity and Building Wealth
  • Marketing
  • Introduction to Taxation 
  • Access to Capital
  • Labor & Employment for your Fishing Business
  • Necessities in Insurance and Understanding Risk
  • Cashflow

Review the program syllabus for full session descriptions. 

Participants must be able to attend a majority of the training sessions and be willing to complete “homework” between sessions. To attend trainings and complete assignments, participants can expect to commit a total of approximately 50 hours to the program. A full agenda with training dates will be distributed upon acceptance into the program. 

As part of our efforts to assess the effectiveness of the program, participants are required to complete a series of evaluations throughout the duration of the program and beyond. 

  • August 15th ​- Application period opens
  • September 14th – SYLC info session. Register here 
  • October 14th – ​Application deadline
  • Early November – Applicants are notified of their application status. Accepted applicants should be prepared to complete a business health assessment before the end of November
  • Early December​ – Virtual program kickoff
  • December- April Virtual training sessions held
  • April​, 2023– Conclusion of the program

SYLC programming is valued at $4,000 but remains free of cost to participants. This is made possible by grant funds from the USDA’s AMS Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). 

If you are interested in financially supporting future cohorts of SYLC participants you can donate to the Local Catch Network fund. If you would like to volunteer or provide professional services please contact us.

Scale Your Local Catch is modeled after Ecotrust’s Ag of the Middle accelerator. LCN has partnered with Ecotrust to develop and implement SYLC programming. Consultants and community organizations who are familiar with the needs of small-to-mid scale fishing businesses that participate in direct marketing are contracted to facilitate key trainings.

Join us for the SYLC information session on September 14, 2022 at 4pm ET. Learn more and register

Refer to our FAQ’s document or contact Jordan Richardson (jordan.richardson@maine.edu) and Tyson Rasor (trasor@ecotrust.org).

Twelve seafood businesses completed the inaugural SYLC program. Get to know the SYLC 2021-2022 cohort