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Small-business cohorts sought for incubator

LIHU‘E — A new business pilot program is looking for ideal candidates to apply for a cohort program.

The incubator program is managed by a Northshore business, instructed by a college professor and in partnership with a local credit union to help boost the agricultural economy and food and beverage industry on Kaua‘i.

Common Ground of Kilauea is the business launching its pilot incubator cohort program on Friday, Sept. 18, for start-up and small businesses.

The incubator is being funded by a County Of Kaua‘i CARES Act grant in collaboration with Kaua‘i Government Federal Credit Union, and is looking for candidates now through Monday, Sept. 7, to help boost and sustain Kaua‘i’s food economy.

“It provides business training, funding and connections to scale-small businesses, and incubator participants will have the opportunity to develop strategic growth goals and business plans through formal courses and consulting sessions,” said a Common Ground email.

Common Ground will manage the incubator program operated by Adam Watten and Jennifer Luck and led by instructor Dirk Soma, a assistant professor in business education at Kaua‘i Community College and small-business consultant at Naupaka Consulting, LLP.

The program will include six to seven hours of classes weekly and one-on-one Zoom virtual sessions with Soma. Ideal candidates will receive $10,000 per company for approved expenditures to assist with achieving strategic growth plan goals.

According to Common Ground, the program will select 10 food, beverage and farm-based small businesses and entrepreneurs based on Kaua‘i. Priority will be given to candidates who represent and celebrate the traditions of agriculture and robust food systems with appeal across major markets.

These include:

• Early-stage food and beverage companies with niche products that have reached the market and have a unique connection to Hawai‘i-grown ingredients, Hawaiian culture and global demand potential;

• Companies with revenues of $150,000 a year or less;

• Consumer-packaged-goods companies that serve the local market and/or need resources to access national and global markets;

• Companies that make food and beverage packaging, provide supply-chain services and otherwise support the Hawai‘i-based food system.

“The incubator seeks to cultivate the next generation of Hawai‘i-based food, beverage and farm-based entrepreneurs to establish Hawai‘i as a food-innovation hotspot,” Common Ground said.



Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or


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