To provide support for those interested in creating new cannabis businesses or for those applying to social equity licenses, the Social Equity in Cannabis Technical Assistance Program was formed and is in search of mentors.
Back in 2020, the Washington State Legislature found that additional efforts are necessary to reduce barriers to entry into the cannabis industry for individuals and communities most adversely impacted by the enforcement of cannabis-related laws.
In accordance with House Bill 2870, the Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force was formed, and has allowed about 41 additional cannabis retail licenses to be issued for social equity purposes. The Washington Department of Commerce partnered with the Liquor and Cannabis Board and Make Green Go! to create the Social Equity in Cannabis Technical Assistance Program.
“The Technical Assistance Mentorship Program will help bolster applicants’ preparations for the Liquor and Cannabis Board’s social equity licensing process and help ensure they are positioned for success,” said Alison Beason, Commerce’s Social Equity Task Force Representative.
The program consists of a self-paced online learning system module to assist with educating potential cannabis business owners on business planning and development, and group or one-on-one mentoring for applicants. The online modules include 17 free videos to advance the understanding of business planning, market research, strategies, accounting and business finance.
The Department of Commerce is seeking proposals to create a roster of mentors and one facilitator to launch the mentorship element of the cannabis technical assistance program. Mentors will initially provide support services for early stage entrepreneurs interested in starting a cannabis business, while later assistance will be targeted at specialized guidance and support for those seeking social equity licenses.
“The program will provide applicants with industry-specific business education, direct mentorship, and assistance developing business and finance plans while offering valuable insight and guidance navigating the myriad of complexities in establishing a retail cannabis business,” said Beason.
Mentors will be contracted for six months from January to June of 2023. Phase I will run from January-March 2023 and contracted mentors will work with the pool of Seattle Equity Applicants. Phase II will begin when Seattle Equity Applicants are selected, which is expected to occur in February or March of 2023. Contracted mentors will then work with approximately 41 of these applicants until June of 2023.
Mentors may also be awarded up to $40,000 depending on their proposed plan and budget. The selected facilitator may be awarded up to $150,000 for the creation of three events in January, March and June of 2023 to support program participants.
Commerce is seeking contractors who have experience in the following fields:
- Accounting professionals
- Cannabis business experts
- Financing, fundraising or venture capital specialist
- Legal professional
- Real estate professionals
- Rules & regulations
- Security professionals
- Social equity
- Tax professionals
- Other applicable professional fields not listed
The application closing date for mentors is November 28 at 11:59 p.m. Click here for more information or to apply.