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New round of companies will get help from business group

 Posted: 12:20 PM October 21, 2013

Sustainable Valley Technology Group unveiled the latest group of companies that will get money, mentoring and other help through its business accelerator program.

The announcement was made today at the downtown Medford Higher Education Center.

Pickled Planet, a raw fermented foods and krauts company from Ashland, received $15,000 towards its efforts.

TonTon's Artisan Affections, a raw hummus and artisan vegan/gluten-free cookie entrepreneur from Talent, and By George Creamery, a Jacksonville artisan cheese maker specializing in aged, raw-milk cheese from grass-fed cows, were given $7,500 each. Freedom Design, an online e-commerce firm, picked up $5,000, and Ashland's Organic Nation distillery will get $2,500.

Courtlandt Jennings, Pickled Planet founder and president, said participation in the accelerator will help his firm grow toward the million-dollar level.

"It means a whole lot," Jennings said. "We have essentially been without the ability to grow our business in any significant fashion without the capital we need. At the same time, our product category — fermented foods — has grown much faster than what we have. The $15,000 represents a chunk of what we need, but we need another $100,000 to $200,000 to do it right."

The company sells its products in Oregon, California and Washington and has six part-time employees. Sales have been $230,000 to $240,000 during the past two years, but Jennings thinks the company could easily gross $1 million and have eight to 10 full-time employees within two or three years.

"This will help us get our product to more retailers and essentially gives us the ability to expand and grow within the market as our category grows; we have just haven't deeply penetrated the areas we're in."

— Greg Stiles

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