Jefferson County, N.Y., Workshop Targets Potential Agriculture Entrepreneurs
Good business ideas may not grow on trees, but they may be growing in farmers' fields or being cultivated in north country milk houses.
That is the idea behind the upcoming "Harvest Your Ideas Workshop" provided by the Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corporation, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County and the Small Business Development Center at Jefferson Community College.
Jay M. Matteson, Jefferson County agricultural coordinator, said his office frequently receives calls from potential entrepreneurs who have an idea for an agriculturally based business, but need help getting the business started.
"The workshop is for people out there -- and we know there are -- who have an idea, but they really haven't pursued it because they don't know what to do next," Mr. Matteson said. "It's designed to take an idea and move it along, or take the desire a person has and give it a little more fire."
He said, for example, a person may have a food product he or she has made, but have no idea how to bring the product to market or get stores to put it on their shelves.
Or a person with a considerable amount of farm acreage may want to come up with a way, other than growing crops, that they can use the land for an agricultural business, such as for raising goats.
Mr. Matteson said the workshop will not focus on an individual's plan or product, but rather will provide information about resources available to them where they can acquire more in-depth information about how to develop a product and what funding opportunities may exist to help them in the venture.
"They can find someone out there to help them with the next step. Or they may find several someones," Rosalind L. Cook, community food security educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension, said.
She said the information may also provide a "reality check" to potential entrepreneurs by providing them with information that could help them decide if their idea is really workable or if they have to rethink starting a particular business.
The workshop will feature presentations about the state's Pride of New York program and the North Country branding program, as well as grant and funding opportunities for agriculturally based entrepreneurs.
Participants will also hear from representatives of a dairy incubator project operated by Morrisville College of Technology about opportunities for product development and manufacturing. The Madison County facility provides a place where people interested in making dairy-related products can test their recipes and ideas.
There will also be a presentation by Daniel J. Deon, manager of the Hannaford Superstore in Watertown, about what is needed to get a product onto a store's shelves, and as well as a maker of a chili salsa who has managed to bring a family recipe to market.
Mr. Matteson said participants will also hear about an entrepreneurial training course starting in October that helps people develop and implement business plans. Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to apply for a microenterprise loan through the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency.
The workshop will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 23 in the conference room at Cornell Cooperative Extension, 203 N. Hamilton St.
There is no cost to attend, but preregistration is required. Mr. Matteson said he expects that 40 to 50 people will attend.
TO REGISTER: Call Cornell Cooperative Extension at 788-8450 or submit an online registration at the Agricultural Development Corporations Web site at www.comefarmwithus.com.
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Source: Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.