Food & Community Development
The Rural Food Business Assistance Project supports farmers, value-added processors, and food service businesses in order to stimulate successful and thriving agribusinesses across rural North Carolina. Together with USDA Rural Business Development Grant, the project provides comprehensive case management services to clients across three rural regions.
Rural Center staff provide one-on-one assistance to clients by phone and using online tools such as Skype and Google Hangouts. Clients co-enroll with their local community college small business center and receive referral services and networking assistance from the regional coordinator. Rural Center staff provide each client with an individualized assessment, and the project will fund training for each client to help them develop their businesses and build the skills to operate them successfully.
“The Rural Food Business Assistance Project is definitely a benefit and asset to current and aspiring entrepreneurs that are farmers, value-added processors, and food service businesses throughout rural North Carolina.”Victor A. Marrow
Regional Support Networks
The Rural Center has identified partners in three regions with a demonstrated economic need and a core leadership group interested in developing a food business support network. In addition to the lead partner, each regional network includes a broad set of stakeholders including Cooperative Extension, community colleges, small business lenders, and local nonprofit and civic groups.
The regions are:
- Western Region led by the Southwestern Commission: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties. Haywood Community College offers an NC REAL agricultural entrepreneurship course and Southwestern Community College offers the Farm College, focusing on agribusiness.
- Sandhills Region led by Sandhills Community College and its Good Food Sandhills initiative: Hoke, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, and Scotland counties. Sandhills Community College offers a sustainable food and farming systems course that primarily trains small-scale farmers and agribusiness owners.
- Upper Coastal Plain Region led by the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments: Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson counties. Edgecombe Community College offers an NC REAL agricultural entrepreneurship course.