Business Development and Financial Support Services

The EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems (EMFS) project provides assistance and funding to food and farming businesses by way of cost-share, low-interest loans; direct grants; free business counseling services; the apprenticeship program; and support for value added food production.

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

Food & Farm Business Development 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.

Link to apprenticeship applications
Link to mentor applications
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% – Funded by Natural Capital Investment Fund

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.

70%

Lender will require enterprise budget and business plan.

NCIF 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.

What documentation is required for Loan Services and Cost Shares?  An application must be submitted, including an enterprise budget describing project costs and the estimated increase in production and income with a corresponding time frame. Each Small Business Center in the region is available to help fill out an enterprise budget and complete the application process.

Who can I talk to about the application process? Complete the interest form and we will direct you to the appropriate contact

Are there program participation requirements? Yes. This project aims to increase farmer and food business skills. We are partnering with three Small Business Centers in the region located at Haywood Community College, Southwestern Community College, and Tri County Community College. Each applicant can meet with their SBC director or our Advanced Business Consultant to assess their readiness to submit a grant or loan application, but only after submitting the intake form and requesting assistance through EMFS programs.

How do I receive funding for the grant/loan programs (Excludes Scholarships and Honorariums)? Funds are paid directly to the vendor. No funds will be issued directly  to individuals/businesses.

What are additional sources of financial resources? There are numerous federal, state and local grant and loan programs available for farm and food businesses. Please see our resource page for additional funding sources.

I’m just starting my food or farm business, do I qualify for funds? Yes, we aim to support new and beginning farmers. We are not supporting ‘hobby farms.’ as part of this program. We require a business plan process to be in place during the application process.

What are the conditions of receiving funds? Lenders will determine eligibility based on financial capacity and EMFS has no influence  over loan eligibility or decisions. Grant awards are contingent on business plans and strength of application.

What are the conditions for receiving grants? A local committee will decide grant awards on a rolling basis.

What kind of business support do you offer? Each Small Business Center offers free one-on-one counseling