The CSPDC recently received a GO Virginia Enhanced Capacity Building grant to conduct an Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study. The GO Virginia Region 8 Council approved the proposal in January and the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development administratively approved the grant in March. Combined with an awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture Local Food Promotional Program grant, these funds will be used to determine the viability of a certified, commercial, shared-use Agricultural Enterprise Center located in the central Shenandoah Valley. The study will identify what components will be the most successful and beneficial to local farmers, explore physical locations for a facility, and structure a comprehensive business plan to be used for future implementation. Potential uses include a commercial kitchen, food lab/testing kitchen, flash freeze facility, training space for smart-ag classes and seminars, packaging and distribution operations, and business planning resources.
A seven-member study team composed of potential users and representatives from businesses and organizations who support local food production has been formed and a Request for Proposal sent to potential consulting firms to conduct the study. Proposals are due April 16. The project is administered by the CSPDC.