At the future home of Local Market, CBD store in Wallingford, Brayan Valencia is making his dream a reality.
“CBD, that’s our store front, our main focus,” Valencia said. “But at the same time, we want to have the opportunity to give – I guess – that same voice to other businesses.”
Starting this weekend, he’ll give them space, too. His store will allow other business owners room to sell their products as well.
It was a business decision to take the money he would have used for a cannabis license application and instead invest in the space, moving his online business to the store front.
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“For us that are small businesses, I will invest in applying but will I make that money back? I wasn’t sure,” Valencia said.
The odds are slim for a coveted cannabis license from the state. So, while he waits for licensing to become wider, he’s excited to learn more about the business through a new certificate program at the University of New Haven.
“I left college because I didn’t have the funds. And now that I do have the funds to go back to college, that’s something that I definitely plan on getting, yeah," Valencia said.
The four online certificate programs focus on cannabis health, law, business and agriculture.
“And this is an area of really expanding jobs, job projections for the future,” said Shaily Menon, University of New Haven vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives. “Both in the state of Connecticut and nationwide.”
Menon oversaw a similar program at her previous institution in Pennsylvania. When cannabis was legalized in Connecticut, she says UNH wanted to offer the certificates that would be responsive to the needs of a changing workforce.
“Because change is happening so frequently. Technology is changing, industries are changing, the law is changing. The people have to constantly be learning,” Menon said.
They’re the only college or university in the state to partner with the company Green Flower to offer the four certificate programs online.
“We partnered with the University of New Haven, because we were really looking for a school that was innovative and willing to lean into workforce development and participate in the cannabis sector,” said Max Simon, Green Flower CEO.
The programs take six months and provide people with specialized skills to enter the complex and competitive cannabis industry.
“You see an industry that's adding hundreds of thousands of new jobs per year and growing in the range of billions from a business opportunity standpoint,” Simon said. “And so I think it's important that we separate the kind of old outdated thinking around cannabis with the facts of what's actually happening today.”
Valencia said it’s a strong move by the school, reflective of the way the industry is moving.
“That lets me know that we’re heading in a positive direction in the state of Connecticut for cannabis, for sure," Valencia said.
Registration is open and the certificate programs begin in September.
“But of course, to get in-depth knowledge beyond that point there will need to be degree programs that are much longer and more intense,” Menon said. “I know that other universities have, or are, developing programs like that. And that's something we would consider in future as well.”
The cannabis certificate program follows existing popular programs in game design and cybersecurity.
“So, at the University of New Haven, we're really interested in developing programs that are really responsive to the needs of the moment 45 the needs of the workforce of society,” Menon said.