In this episode, host Karson Humiston, CEO & Founder of Vangst, announces a breaking partnership between Vangst and the Cannabis Business Office to launch a new program. Karson is joined by Emma Howard, the program manager of the Cannabis Business Office, and Tristan Watkins, the Deputy Director of the Business Support Division. This collaborative effort aims to bridge the knowledge gap by providing social equity cannabis businesses with access to capital and expert business support.
The Cannabis Business Office Explained
The Cannabis Business Office, established in 2021 with a $4 million allocation, has been at the forefront of supporting cannabis businesses through grants, loans, and technical assistance. Emma Howard, the program manager, highlights the focus on online learning, grants, and mentorship, with plans to expand technical assistance programs in the coming months. The aim is clear: empower cannabis entrepreneurs with specialized knowledge in areas like accounting, HR compliance, cultivation, and manufacturing.
Technical Assistance Programs
The partnership between Vangst and the Cannabis Business Office aims to fill the gap in the market for expert-led courses on topics such as accounting, HR, compliance, cultivation, and more. The void has been answered by creating an easily-accessible program of 50 online tactical business courses. In addressing specific challenges faced by social equity cannabis businesses, this initiative sets the stage for a more resilient and thriving sector. The technical assistance program represents a crucial step toward promoting equity and inclusivity in the cannabis industry.
Loan Program Innovation
Tristan Watkins highlights their unique loan program, which is one of the first of its kind in the country. They've collaborated with New Projects to manage a loan and grant fund, focusing on character-based lending practices. Which means, focusing on the business's ability to repay rather than traditional metrics like credit and collateral. This approach allows for more flexible repayment structures that are tailored to the borrower's business growth. The program also serves as a potential model for other states, promoting inclusivity and equity in the evolving cannabis business sector.
Accessing the Program
For clients interested in gaining access to various programs such as the Cannabis Business Foundations course and loan programs, Emma Howard explains that it's as simple as sending an email with their social equity license or suitability letter from the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). Eligibility for licenses is based on income, location, or past involvement in marijuana-related legal issues.
Predictions for 2024
Emma predicts that federal legalization will be a major topic in the 2024 presidential election, bringing the industry closer to nationwide legalization. Tristan predicts an increase in high-quality, specialized products and a decrease in stigma as the market evolves.
We're excited to partner with the Cannabis Business Office to support entrepreneurs in the Colorado cannabis industry. This program is a step towards empowering social equity license holders with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed. We look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have on the industry and the community.
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