The Midwest Hemp Coalition (formerly the Illinois Hemp Industries Association) is partnering with Chicago NORML with the hopes of creating more opportunities for women and minorities in the Illinois hemp industry.
The organizations recently announced the Illinois Hemp Grant, created to help promote small and emerging hemp-based businesses to grow and expand their products or services to diverse demographics.
The grant is not a lump sum, but rather a promise to cover one year of free accounting, marketing and legal services, as well as one year of licensing fees for processing or growing. (Fees in Illinois range from $475 to $1,100 for each plot of land or address for both growers and processors.)
To win the grant, applicants must get through two rounds of a competition. For the first round, participants will be asked to complete an initial application evaluation and create a three-minute YouTube video pitch. They will then be judged based on the quality of their idea and overall professionalism.
Those who make it through round one will move on to the “live” version of the event, which will allow them to present to a panel of industry judges through Zoom. Judges will score round two contestants based on the potential of their business impact, feasibility and leverage of resources.
Those with the most points will receive one year of free accounting, legal, and marketing services, licensing application fees paid, and hemp education classes for 2 staff members.
The competition is for new or emerging hemp businesses throughout the supply chain. Applicants must also:
Have a primary business based in Illinois.
Have been in business for a minimum of six months.
Have professional staff, either paid or volunteer.
Be 21 years of age or older.
Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply, but anyone with a hemp business in Illinois may participate.
“We are really excited to partner with the Midwest Hemp Coalition to bring this information and opportunity to our community. We've been teaching about the cannabis plant for years, and this is part of that,” said Edie Moore, executive director of Chicago NORML, in a news release. “The reality is that communities that have been impacted and divested should look at all the opportunities in the space. Our members and advocacy partners support the evolution of the discussion and we are ready to share this knowledge the same ways we always have.”
Participants have until Sept. 15 to submit their application. To learn more about the rules, registry process or submit an application, visit ILHempGrant.com. To help sponsor this initiative, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org