PCEDA Seeks Farmer Input for Feasibility Study
NEW BLOOMFIELD, January 24. The Perry County Economic Development Authority won the highly competitive Local Food Promotion Program Grant in October through the USDA. This grant provides funding for a project to strengthen a local and regional food economy in Perry County. PCEDA was 1 of 44 entities from across the United States that received a grant.
Through this project, PCEDA will work with farmers to identify ways to make Perry County farmers more sustainable and economically resilient, provide better access to local food for underserved county residents and uncover complementary workforce development and educational opportunities within the county. The project will enable PCEDA to strengthen and broaden the county’s economy through new market opportunities for farming operations serving local and regional markets.
A third-party, PA-based, consulting firm, Kitchen Table Consultants, (KTC) has been retained to conduct this comprehensive agricultural feasibility study. KTC’s mission is “to help passionate farmers build lasting, profitable businesses and they work with farmers and regional economic development organizations nationally.” KTC came highly recommended from the PA Department of Agriculture.
“We have already begun hosting one-on-one and small group interviews with people in the agriculture community here,” explained Martha Roberts, PCEDA chair. “We will attend multiple Ag events this winter to gather more input from famers and will distribute a survey both online and in-person. Whether a farm produces direct to consumer goods or is a large production scale agricultural business, your input is essential. We hope that anyone making their living farming in Perry County will participate in this important work. “
In addition, PCEDA has commitments from over a dozen collaborating partners to participate in this project. Through these collaborators, KTC will gain an understanding of the agricultural retail, distribution and aggregation sectors, conduct a market analysis of the sales and product development potential within a 200-mile radius of Perry County, as well as identify general trends in consumer appetites for local/regional farm products.
KTC will evaluate the most compelling market opportunities for agricultural and value-added products that could be filled by existing (or new) farms in Perry County. Consideration will be given to competitive forces, regional advantages and branding, and unmet consumer demands.
The goal is to craft a cohesive and actionable agricultural plan that outlines the region’s top agricultural development opportunities, including recommendations for specific programs, facilities, or organizations to support these regional initiatives. This plan will include recommendations for stages of growth, funding required and provide the underlying financial models, research data, and opportunity scoring tools used in the project.
PCEDA is a quasi-government, not for profit organization founded in 1973 by the Perry County Commissioners for the purpose of promoting and facilitating economic development. It is governed by a 21-member board of business owners, taxpayers and employees appointed by the Commissioners. The Authority is co-sponsor of the Perry Business and Tourism Center in New Bloomfield, PA.