|The Fluresh Accelerator collaborates with community partners, educators, and governmental agencies to create an end-to-end curriculum that will develop the next leaders in the industry. This curriculum includes focus areas such as state and local licensure, entrepreneurship, finance, cultivation and processing, retail operations, environmental sustainability, marketing and more, all aimed to give participants the arsenal to grow their own cannabis businesses upon completion of the program.|
“The Fluresh team is proud to launch this unique program in the state of Michigan, whose market is experiencing incredibly rapid growth,” says Tom Benson, Chief Executive Officer of Fluresh. “We’re excited to be a part of this trajectory, due in part to the dedication of our nearly 200 employees operating across facilities in Grand Rapids and Adrian. That said, with this growth, comes a responsibility to the communities we operate in, and a need to take what we’re learning and share it with those that wish to join our company in this competitive field.”
The cannabis job market is booming, with recent reports showing that Michigan state cannabis industry jobs are growing faster than any other state with legal marijuana. While this growth is exhilarating, educational opportunities and exposure to the multitude of business opportunities in, or ancillary to, cannabis are limited. Fluresh is making an investment in dynamic programming and social equity advocacy to help everyone ‘Fluresh together’ and conduct business in a way that better suits the communities it serves. The Fluresh Accelerator is one of these important investments.
“As licensed operators in the cannabis industry, we should be brave enough to acknowledge the history of cannabis in the country and those communities that were targeted and disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs,” says Denavvia Mojet, Corporate Impact Strategist & Legal Compliance Manager at Fluresh. “To combat these inequities, cannabis companies need to lead by example and work to drive a new industry that is diverse and invested in social equity and justice. The Fluresh Accelerator serves that exact purpose.”
Fluresh opened applications for the incubator program in December 2020, with eligibility open to any individual who is a legal resident of Michigan and 21 years of age or older as of January 1, 2021. Among other considerations, the company strongly considered applications that aligned with Fluresh’s goal to make the cannabis industry more diverse and equitable for victims of the War on Drugs, the industry appeal, potential of business services or products, history within the cannabis industry and/or general professional experience, as well as the potential impact the applicant and its visions can have on the industry.
After careful evaluation, the inaugural 2021 class of the Fluresh Accelerator program was selected to include a diverse group of entrepreneurs, community leaders, legal professionals, caregivers, and creators, all bound by a common interest of growing their profiles within the Michigan cannabis community. More than 80 percent of the selected participants are BIPOC. The selected participants for this mentorship program are as follows:
- GanjaGirl MI – Morgan Underwood and Mary Sherman are female caregivers and cultivators interested in creating a business that serves those disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. They are Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency social-equity certified and taking strides to launch their cannabis business cultivating reliable products, equitable opportunities, and promoting cannabis as a way of life.
- Wormies Vermicompost – A Latino-owned company committed to the sustainable future of local Michigan communities. Fluresh Accelerator participants, Luis Chen and Chandler Michalsk, are interested in ingraining their business in the cannabis community to see how they can provide enriched soil mixes, utilizing their composting processes, to provide sustainable solutions for cannabis growers.
- Aqume Enterprises – Ciarra Adkins, owner of Aqume Enterprises, is a Michigan attorney and consultant (Aqume Law/Aqume Consulting) and is interested in growing her knowledge of the cannabis industry to better serve the communities she works in, having first-hand experience in witnessing the devastating, generational effects of the War on Drugs. Adkins works in the community also extends to her position as an Equity Analyst for the City of Grand Rapids, a member of the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency Racial Equity Workgroup and as a municipal worker.
- Creative Carvings – Creative Carvings is a locally-run business known for its beautiful vegetable and fruit carving bouquets. Fluresh Accelerator participants, Jessica Austin and Domonric Gray, are interested in gaining valuable industry knowledge on how it can infuse cannabis into its fruit and vegetable creative offerings.
- Alvin Hills – Alvin is a Grand Rapids native, community leader and recreational cultivator interested in expanding his family’s agriculture business, based in Mecosta County. His goals in cannabis are ultimately to earn a Commercial Cultivation license to grow cannabis on the family’s land. Alvin also works at the City of Grand Rapids and believes that learning the industry can enhance his regulatory lens for the people of Grand Rapids.
- Erica Tyler – Erica is a Grand Rapids native with a passion for chemistry, compliance and community. She joined the Fluresh Accelerator in an effort to learn about the pathways to securing a Safety Compliance Facility (also known as a testing lab) and to find ways that her families’ Southside properties can be leveraged for new cannabis opportunities.
- Roberto Gonzalez – Roberto is a longtime Grand Rapidian and cannabis aficionado who has navigated the industry, even through challenging encounters with the law, to establish himself as a respected former dispensary operator and medical qualifying clinic investor. Through the Fluresh Accelerator, Roberto is gaining his first look behind the veil of regulated commercial operations and gaining the knowledge to reemerge in the regulated industry leveraging his wealth of knowledge and experience.
“To be part of a mentorship program that focuses on social equity, and working with individuals seeking opportunities in the cannabis business makes me excited about the future of my business in the cannabis industry,” says Fluresh Accelerator participant, Jessica Austin, owner of Creative Carvings. “With the enthusiasm of the Fluresh team and their eagerness to teach and work with us, I absolutely cannot wait to learn, thrive, and grow alongside my fellow participants.”
Throughout the year, these participants will engage in the comprehensive and evolving curriculum outlined by the Fluresh team and led by industry experts and community partners. The first session took place on Feb. 26, 2021, as an introduction to the Fluresh team and an overarching orientation of what to expect throughout the program’s curriculum, where the participants first met each other to kick off their journey together in the accelerator.