Business Development Services

Each of the benefits below is available to food and farm businesses in the seven western counties and on the Qualla Boundary. Click on each benefit to learn more about who these programs serve, who is eligible, and what’s required to apply.

Printable Chart of Programs and Services

Who is this for? What is it? What is next?
Everyone interested in EMFS services After filling out the interest form, the EMFS Extension Agent will contact you to discuss a few details of your business, your plans for expansion (if applicable) and what programs you are interested in accessing. This call should take about 10-20 minutes. After this initial consultation we will refer you to one of our many service providers to help with next steps.

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Who is this for? What is it? What is next?
Businesses of all sizes who can benefit from marketing, business planning, accounting, tax accounting, and related business services Meet with your county’s Small Business Center to review your business plan, budget, marketing plan, or other materials. They can help you identify next steps, and point you in the direction of additional business resources in the project. If applicable, you may then meet with our advanced business  consultant, apply for a grant and/or loan, or receive support to use additional business services such as legal, financial, web or graphic design services.

Find my local Small Business Center!
Who is this for? What is it? What is next?
Businesses where one or more of the following applies:
– Have a current  business plan in progress
– Have a current marketing strategy
– Are actively working with their Small Business Center
– Are an established business seeking legal advice or other organizational assistance
– Are planning to add, or in the process of adding, employees
– Seeking loans, cost shares, or small grants through EMFS
Our advanced business consultant will call and/or meet with you in person for 1-2 hours to discuss next steps and provide the technical support necessary to help you meet your goals. If necessary, follow up meetings with the business consultant are available. If applicable, you may also receive referrals to an accountant, lawyer, marketing specialist, or lending partner to help meet your needs and business goals. These services would be provided at no cost to you through the EMFS program.

If applicable, you may be directed to another service provider or be connected with our lenders to begin work on submitting your loan application. Assistance is available if necessary to complete your loan application.

You will be required to fill out evaluation forms six and twelve months after accessing these resources.

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Who is this for? What is it? What is next?

Rural food, farm and value-added producers who can benefit from a paid apprentice to help expand production, sales marketing efforts, and implement new business strategies 

Students who are seeking business training in the agriculture or local food fields

Apprentices are paid 12$ per hour for 8 to 16 weeks for 20 hours per week

EMFS apprentices are paid by the EMFS program. Your mentorship will provide guidance and hands-on rural food-based business experience.

 Mentors have the opportunity to boost their business’s income and capacity in many areas.

Your application will be reviewed and you will be contacted by our EMFS Apprentice Program Manager to discuss further program details.

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Who is this for? What is it? What is next?
After an initial intake conversation with your SBC, a referral will be made to our partner the Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship (CAFE) for businesses that focus on value added products like jams, jerky, granola or baked goods. Support will be provided by the Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship (CAFE) by the EMFS program, at no charge to the business. CAFE can guide product development, including recipe development, ingredient sourcing, regulatory requirements, marketing and production at Blue Ridge Food Ventures. After CAFE provides consultation and technical assistance,  participants can apply for cost-share support for continued product development and marketing up to $3,000 per participant.

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Loan Services, Cost Share Programs, Scholarships and Honorariums

The EMFS program offers cost-shares for low-interest loans, direct small grants, and scholarships for food and farm business development. An EMFS team member can work with you to determine which financial package is best for your needs.

Access Business Services:
The first step in accessing these resources is to fill out this short intake form.

Business Contribution EMFS Funding Loan Funding Financing Requirements Reporting Requirements
5%
Must provide an enterprise budget as part of your application.
95%
Funds are paid directly to the equipment vendor or supplier by the grant administrator.Vendors must be approved by EMFS/NCSU.
N/A Grant agreement detailing product description, serial numbers and cost. Reporting requirements for six- and 12-month post-award to determine increase in income and/or impact on your business.

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Business Contribution EMFS Funding Loan Funding Financing Requirements Reporting Requirements
70% – supplied by lender.

Up to 30%

Paid directly to the lender, or vendor reducing capital expenditure.

Lenders and vendors must be approved by NCSU.

70%

Funds are paid directly to equipment or supply vendor. 

Each lender has specific loan requirements and works directly with applicants.

Reporting requirements for six- and 12-month post-award to determine increase in income and/or effect on your business.

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Business Contribution EMFS Funding Loan Funding Financing Requirements Reporting Requirements
70% – Funded by lender

Up to 30%

$7,500 maximum cost-share availability

Paid directly to the lender to reduce overall loan amount . In the case of business 70% contribution, all funds must be expended to vendor approved by NCSU.

70%

Lender will require enterprise budget and business plan.

Each lender has specific loan requirements and works directly with applicant. Intake and application form; six- and 12-month post-award to determine increase in income and/or effect on your business.

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Business Contribution EMFS Funding Loan Funding Financing Requirements Reporting Requirements
Cost share dependent on total request, minimum 20% Up to $1,500 N/A N/A

Evaluation form.

Submission of receipts for reimbursement.

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Business Contribution EMFS Funding Loan Funding Financing Requirements Reporting Requirements

Commitment to supply production or business presentations in the region. 

Or participation in advisory board deliberations.

Must become a vendor through NCSU requiring W9 and bank direct deposit information.

EMFS will pay up to $200 to support entrepreneurs to present at workshops and conferences, and support of advisory board participation. N/A N/A Evaluation form.

Apply Now!

Scholarship Funds: Scholarships are available to help producers, educators, nutrition educators, Cooperative Extension agents, business owners, and others attend professional conferences or events that will help grow local food businesses in the region. If you are interested in applying for scholarship funds, please fill out this application and we will be in touch with additional details. Each recipient is encouraged to use additional program resources and will be asked to complete an evaluation describing the impact of their experience.

EMFS Program FAQ’s

What can grant and loan money be used for? Equipment, infrastructure, and supplies to increase production and income.