Technical Assistance / Support Service Providers


December 2nd, 2016

The Feast! Local Foods Marketplace is featuring technical assistance providers in our Support Services Mini-Expo8:30 am to 3:00 pm on Friday, Dec. 2. Businesses and organizations that provide services, technical assistance, and/or resources for farm and food entrepreneurs will be staffing tables around the auditorium, where tradeshow attendees will gather for the group keynotes, lunch, and networking.

Food businesses are encouraged to visit and talk with the service providers in this area throughout the Food Entrepreneurs Forum, and especially during the Networking hour at 1:00.

*Note that Jim Gage and Valerie Gamble (see below) are available for one-on-one consultations throughout the day. Email [email protected] to request an appointment, or sign up at their tables Friday morning.

2016 Technical Assistance and Support Providers


Lars Johnson, TouchPoint Resource Pool, LLC

We are a collection of training, technical, compliance, and service providers to food businesses including Food safety, HACCP plans, health department compliance, IT support, labeling, financing, marketing, equipment, and business planning. We’ll be offering membership in our organization for food businesses who want to tap into our Resource Pool.


Ryan Brixius, Rural Development

Rural Development has grant and loan programs to support small business and Community Economic Development.


Jim Gage*

Over the last 12 years, Jim Gage has worked with over 250 value added agricultural and local foods businesses, assisting with business plans, feasibility studies, Market assessments, financial strategies, and grants/loans. He is a certified Wisconsin Value-Added Food & Farm Business Consultant, and currently serves as the Business Strategist in Residence for the American Cheese Society and is Vice President of Slow Money Wisconsin.


MDA-Food Safety*

Valerie Gamble works with industry groups, non-profit organizations, and state and local agencies around Minnesota to provide information on food and feed safety programs and regulations. Previously she was a supervisor and field inspector for the MDA food inspection program and has been with the agency for seven years. Valerie also worked for five years with organic and conventional farms and orchards in California.


MDA-Minnesota Grown/New Markets & Specialty Food Assoc.

The Minnesota Grown Program is a statewide partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock. The Specialty Food Association, Inc. is membership-based trade association in the United States representing approximately 3,400 businesses.


Elise Forward, Forward Food Solutions, LLC

Elise Forward is President and Principal Consultant for Forward Food Solutions, LLC. She has over 18 years of Food Safety, Quality, and Regulatory experience in international and domestic food markets. She has worked in laboratory and production settings, and has 15+ years’ experience managing the food safety programs of international food companies.



Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is a regional development and philanthropic organization that fosters economic and community vitality in 20 counties of southern Minnesota through a culture of collaboration and partnership. We envision a prosperous and growing region with vibrant communities, innovative and successful economies, and engaged and valued citizens.



Renewing the Countryside strengthens rural areas by championing and supporting rural communities, farmers, artists, entrepreneurs, educators, activists and other people who are renewing the countryside through sustainable and innovative initiatives, businesses, and projects.


Contract Comestibles

Contract Comestibles is focused on small batch manufacturing of sauces and dressings. Contract Comestibles is certified FDA, USDA and organic and regularly works with farmers and entrepreneurs looking to expand into the retail trade.



The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) helps develop new uses for agricultural products through science and technology, partnering with businesses and entrepreneurs to bring ideas to reality. With unique facilities and professional staff, AURI is a one-of-a-kind resource that provides assistance to Minnesota businesses looking to create more value for the state’s agricultural products.



More information on applying to have a booth in the Support Services Mini-Expo here.

See the 2015 list here.


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