“Floyd Grown,” a multi-faceted collaborative endeavor, has just completed nearly two years of work in collaboration and support of the farm, food and forestry-related businesses in the County. The goal was to support these ventures by providing information and technical assistance and looking at ways to better collaborate and promote for greater sales, income and job-creation. The project included training, research and studies, as well as direct one-on-one support and business funding opportunities.
“We had about 90 farmers and other entrepreneurs who participated, so that confirmed that there is a lot of energy and opportunity in these sectors,” said Jon Beegle, chairman of the Floyd County Economic Development Authority. Workshops offered included Farming and Forestry Technical and Financial Assistance and Food Regulatory Guidance.
The project gathered a lot of information including a survey of related business, their needs and opportunities, including potential avenues for collaboration. Several publications were produced as well, including: a Commercial Kitchens Inventory and Map (what’s available for rent and where),a guidebook called “How to Start an Agri-tourism Business (in Floyd County)” a Feasibility Study on a Floyd Online Storefront; and a Floyd County Agri-tourism Brochure.An Online Tool for Food Ventures was also developed which provides direction on which food regulatory agencies should be consulted based on answers to several questions for the business. These resources are posted on the www.yesfloydva.org website.
Direct one-on-one technical assistance ($1,000 worth each) was awarded to 10 businesses from a pool of 16 who competed. “Often large businesses can afford to hire professional assistance to help them with technical questions and challenges, and with this we provided smaller businesses that same opportunity in the hopes that it will allow them to grow at an accelerated yet responsible rate,” according to Beegle. The technical assistance ranged from nutritional analysis, logo and website development, to social media campaigns.
Also, $16,000 in local grants were awarded to three local businesses with the best proposals for value-chain-enhancement. The top winner was Fields Edge Farm, which took home $8,000 to help create cold storage to extend the life and quality of their crops.
Lastly, the Floyd County offices of Tourism and Economic Development jointly developed the first-ever Floyd logo to promote Floyd County. About 80 community and business leaders attended the brand roll-out.
Funding and assistance for this project is provided via the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Building Entrepreneurial Economies (BEE) program, the Virginia Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services’ Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development (AFID) program, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the County of Floyd, the Floyd County Economic Development Authority (EDA), the Floyd County Tourism Office, the Town of Floyd, and the New River Valley Regional Commission.
For more information contact Lydeana Martin, Community and Economic Development Director, Floyd County, firstname.lastname@example.org.