We specialize in assisting individuals, cooperatives, small businesses and other similar entities to enable and assist agricultural cooperative and business development in Virginia.

Over the past 14 years, we have assisted clients in a variety of industries including aquaculture, beekeeping, fruits/vegetables to processed value added products, bio-energy, grains/identity preserved, wine, beer, spirits, livestock/meat processing, milk/dairy, forestry, and more.

Proven Results

 In the last three years:

  • 100+ Producers Assisted
  •  45+ Business Plans
  •  15+ Feasibility Studies
  •  40+ Grant Applications
  •  $6 million grant dollars to rural communities
  • Numerous publications and resources
  • Began offering Lulus Local Food as an online marketing and sales tool for farmers

Our Process

Every client we assist is unique, so no two processes are exactly the same; we individualize the following coordinated steps of our technical assistance process.

Step 1 – Preliminary Assessment: Gather Client Information and Explore Goals

After a call or email requesting assistance, VA FAIRS staff will visit your farm or business. This first meeting is organized as a ‘get to know you’ meeting, where staff can ask questions about the venture, suggest possible solutions, and gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the business venture and ideas. Usually a questionnaire is provided to help us better understand your business.

Step 2 – Strategic Planning

This step typically involves introducing ideas for business improvement and discussion of various ideas discovered during the Preliminary Assessment meeting, with the goal of choosing the best idea to move forward with.

Step 3 – Research and Collect Data

At this point in the project, we have usually determined that a specific document needs to be created in order to help a venture obtain financing, set business goals, or address a specific marketing need. This may entail the formalization of background information for the document, with the research component ultimately forming the background of the document. We typically collect data to include information from both public and private sources, the experience of the Center’s staff, and information from the client.

Step 4 – Interaction and Draft Presentation

During this stage, the information we collected will be analyzed, and the resulting conclusions will often lead to significant contact for further revision of the business idea to address any obstacles or opportunities discovered through the process.

Step 5 – Document Preparation

Depending on the end document that's needed, this step may involve significant effort from both the client and our staff, and is often the most time consuming step in the process. Most business documents involve the creation of an in-depth financial model; creating this model requires significant communication and revision to construct the most accurate financial picture of the business venture.

Step 6 – Presentation and Wrap-up

At this stage, final drafts will be presented for the client’s review, and any necessary changes will be discussed and incorporated. The wrap-up phase typically involves a formal presentation of the completed document and recommendations for the advancement of the venture idea.

Because we take a long term approach to working with our clients, the end of one project often signals the beginning of another. The above process is often repeated months or sometimes years later as the businesses  the Center has assisted mature and expand their operations, and the process begins again to explore new ideas and opportunities.