Study being conducted to create Agriculture Enterprise Center

Credit: Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission
Credit: Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission(Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 2:51 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) — A multi-use facility could be coming to the Valley for local farmers to use to help grow their business.

The Agriculture Enterprise Center would support small to mid-sized operations by helping to expand market reach and reduce some of the risks that come with a singular operation.

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission has started a feasibility study to include Augusta, Bath, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Rockbridge and Shenandoah counties, along with the surrounding towns and cities, which includes over 6,000 farms.

CSPDC is working with local agricultural businesses to get a better idea of how this facility can meet their needs.

An eight-member Study Team including potential Ag. Center users, representatives of businesses and organizations who support local food production, has been created to help guide the study and promote the needs of agricultural businesses in the area.

“It could be a commercial kitchen, flash-freezing facility, it could be cold storage, assistance with distribution, maybe classroom space. It could take on a lot of different looks,” Rachel Salatin, Marketing Coordinator for CSPDC, said.

The study will also explore different locations for the facility.

Salatin said this facility could be another resource that farmers could use during tough times like now.

New Venture Advisors (NVA), an agriculturally focused firm based out of Chicago, Illinois was selected to conduct the study.

The study is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant and a GO Virginia Enhanced Capacity Building grant. Out of 215 applications to LFPP, this project was one of 42 that was awarded funds; it was the only project funded in Virginia

The study is set to be complete by May 2021.

“At the end of the study, we’d like to have a business plan, a marketing plan and a foundation to start, grow and launch the facility,” Salatin said.

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