An ten-member study team composed of potential users and representatives from businesses and organizations who support local food production has been formed to serve as a vital resource throughout the study. Members include:
- Brenda Mead, Staunton City Council
- Scott Lily, Farm Credit of the Virginias
- Casey Armstrong, Rockingham County Assistant Administrator
- Keith Holland, Three Rivers Farm
- Rebekah Castle, Augusta County Economic Development Director
- Devon Anders, InterChange Group
- Michele Bridges, Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
- Margaret Ann Smith, South Lex Cattle Company
- Meghan Welch, VA Economic Development Partnership
- Travis Carter, Shenandoah Valley Partnership
In July 2020, New Venture Advisors (NVA), an agriculturally focused firm based out of Chicago, Illinois was selected to conduct the study. NVA began work on the study right away and is expected to complete the project by May 2021.
This project offers the region the path to further evaluate market demand for ag. products at a regional scale, and if the study results support it, the critical information to move forward on what would become a unique opportunity for our small farms to gain a strong economic foothold in the marketplace. The Ag. Enterprise Center feasibility study and planning process will include an emphasis on creating strong and sustainable financial goals. The study will analyze, research, develop, and expand markets to assist farmers in their product planning and diversification. This research will be a business development resource to promote new opportunities and marketing strategies as buyer needs and market demands are better understood.