Maui Food Innovation Center Wins $50,000 from US SBA

September 5, 2016, 3:38 PM HST · Updated September 5, 3:41 PM
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Maui Food Innovation Center's program, Maui Food Industry X-celerator (MFIX), first graduating class.

Maui Food Innovation Center’s program, Maui Food Industry X-celerator (MFIX), first graduating class.

For the second year in a row, the Maui Food Innovation Center at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College was awarded a $50,000 grant from the US Small Business administration for its Maui Food Industry X-celerator program.

“Winning the SBA Accelerator award for the second year in a row is a validation of Maui Food Innovation Center business mentoring program.  HSDC’s HI Growth Initiative is proud to help support MFIC’s efforts to help Hawaii entrepreneurs achieve business success,” said Karl Fooks, President of HSDC.

The funding will enable MFIX to introduce its accelerator program to those agribusinesses, chef’s, and restauranteurs looking to develop a value-added food product, connect with food business industry experts, and peers like themselves seeking to expand their revenue streams.

Program organizers say the X-celerator initiative is pioneering and supporting local entrepreneurs on Maui.

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US SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announced the winners of the 2016 SBA 2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition on Aug. 31, 2016.

The successful Maui Food Industry X-celerator was a recipient of this same SBA grant in 2015. With matching funds from The UH Maui College, Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation, the County of Maui, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, and many community partners and industry leaders who supported the launch of the Maui Accelerator Program for local food entrepreneurs in January 2016.

The grant is part of the SBA 2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, a cutting-edge federal program that supports initiatives to spur innovation commercialization, entrepreneurship and job creation at the local level.

MFIC is one of 68 awardees from 32 states to receive grants totaling $3.4 million dollars. “We are very pleased to be recognized nationally and that the SBA saw the value of our Maui Food Innovation Center and the MFIX program for a second consecutive year,” said Lui Hokoana, Chancellor UH Maui College.

“The opportunity to expand our X-celerator program to this segment of the County of Maui community validates our work to advance our farmers/chefs, food entrepreneurs, our economy by building upon new revenue sources, and create more jobs. With the closing of HC&S and the era of sugar cane coming to an end it is key to diversify the agriculture businesses here on Maui and there be a resource for our farmers and food entrepreneurs to turn to for assistance,” said Hokoana. With the SBA funding, MFIX is one way that the Maui Food Innovation Center hopes to assist these entrepreneurs in becoming successful business owners.

More information about the Maui Food Innovation Center and its training programs is available online.

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