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AgPlus Rural Business Workshops Are Making the Connection

Blog: Project Update
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Author:
Adrian Rehn

Valley Vision, through a grant from USDA Rural Development, is on track to connect many rural food and ag businesses in our region with resources to help them grow and thrive. We are at the halfway point in our AgPlus project to hold four workshops throughout the Capital region, the goal of which is to connect these businesses with financing information and business development opportunities. The result of these activities is a stronger food, agriculture, and beverage manufacturing ecosystem here in the Sacramento region and in the greater Central Valley.

The AgPlus Consortium is proud of this series of workshops, which get funders in the same room as those seeking funding for their food and agriculture-related projects. It is rewarding to see a small grower, manufacturer, or other business learn about a financing opportunity that aligns perfectly with the goals that they have for their business, or a funder learning something new from an experienced farmer or restauranteur.

The value of making these connections was apparent this past Friday in Marysville, where U.S. Congressman John Garamendi (CA-3rd District) delivered opening remarks to the group of more than 50 small businesses owners, resource providers, and local elected officials, stating:

"As part of a nationally-recognized agriculture manufacturing region that generates 68% of California's overall on-farm agricultural value, the AgPlus Consortium is vital to the future of the 3rd District. By connecting farmers and small business owners with the necessary business development resources through their Rural Small Business Workshops, AgPlus is helping our communities create more good-paying jobs to Make It In America. I look forward to carrying on our work in growing California’s agricultural manufacturing sector."

The Congressman encouraged attendees to ‘put the Plus into Ag,’ and described the value proposition of a regional focus on value-added food production. He urged those in attendance to seize on this opportunity to boost our regional manufacturing ecosystem, as well as their own bottom lines as food businesses.

In the past three months, Valley Vision and our AgPlus Consortium partners have held two workshops engaging over 100 people: the first was in Winters serving rural food businesses in Yolo and Solano Counties, and the second in Marysville serving Yuba and Sutter Counties. Some key resource partners and presenters at these events have included USDA Rural Development California, U.S. Small Business Administration, California Bank & Trust, Yuba/Sutter Chamber of Commerce, University of California Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), Solano Small Business Development Center at Solano Community College, First Northern Bank, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG). We would also like to thank the City of Winters, Habitat for Humanity Yuba/Sutter, and 420 MVL for hosting us and making these workshops possible. We would also like to thank the Office of the Ombudsman, California Air Resources Board for preparing this Agricultural Incentives and Resources booklet especially for our workshops. Thank you all!

For each workshop, Valley Vision prepared a resource chart that lists all of the resource providers in attendance, with easy-to-read descriptions of their relevant business development programs and a contact person for each. This is a high-value resource to any farmer, rancher, food processor, restauranteur, distributor, or other food and ag-related business interested in getting funded, learning how to run their business efficiently, or otherwise move their projects forward.

Two more food business resource workshops are planned, one for El Dorado and Placer Counties and another for Sacramento County and the rural Delta in the next couple of months. To get involved with these workshops or otherwise stay in touch, subscribe to Valley Vision’s food and agriculture newsletter, Food for Thought, which goes out on a monthly basis to over 1,500 food and ag leaders across the Sacramento region and Northern California.

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Adrian Rehn is a Valley Vision Project Associate working in the food system, broadband, and communications portfolios.