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Agriculture Entrepreneurs

AG-X

Scale Your Agri-Business with the AG-X Workshop Series

Are you an existing farmer or agriculturalist looking to expand your horizons, explore new opportunities, and take your agricultural enterprise to the next level? Join us for the AG-X Workshop Series, presented by the Dominion Energy Innovation Center and SCORE Richmond, designed to empower you with the knowledge, tools, and connections needed to analyze, strategize, and succeed in your agricultural endeavors.

Program Goal:

Our primary goal is to provide you with a comprehensive analytical framework to assess the viability and opportunities of new projects within your existing agricultural business. Each session in this five-part series (detailed agenda below) is carefully curated to equip you with the essential components that will help you better understand your business and develop the key resources for use in your day-to-day operations.

Session Structure:

1. Knowledge: Specific information relevant to the session topic. “What do you need to know about this topic?”

2. Application: Action steps designed to implement the knowledge. “What do you do with the information you’ve learned about this topic?”

3. Connections: Parties outside of the organization that will be involved in the project. “Who do we need to get involved to execute on the information?”

4. Asset: A deliverable or tool that is helpful to the topic. “This helps me utilize/organize/better understand the topic.”

Who Is This Workshop Series For?

The AG-X Business Planning Workshop Series is open to businesses of all sizes and sectors, aiming to accelerate growth in the current economic climate. Tailored for entrepreneurs introducing value-added agricultural products, services, or brands, this program empowers ventures like controlled environment agriculture, artisanal cheese, or field monitoring drones.

The cost to participate in the AG-X Workshop Series is $125 per company for up to three team members. 

Scholarship Opportunity:

Hanover County Economic Development is offering scholarships to a maximum of five businesses in Hanover County interested in attending the workshop series.  Scholarships will reimburse the $125 registration fee upon completion of  the series.  In order to receive reimbursement of the $125 registration fee, enrollee must attend a minimum of four of the five workshops. Interested participants must be registered as a business in Hanover County or a Hanover resident operating an Ag-based business in Hanover County.  Scholarships will be awarded on a first come, first served basis to qualified applicants. More information on the scholarship and requirements is available here.    

Hanover-based businesses/entrepreneurs interested in a workshop scholarship must be approved by Economic  Development before registering for the series.  To apply for a Hanover-based Business Scholarship, please complete the online Workshop Scholarship Application. 

What You Will Learn

February 1, 2024, 6pm – 8pm

Introduction: We will introduce the lecturers, the DEIC, the Extension Office, and our partners. We will discuss the overall goal of this year’s AG-X program and set expectations for what the participants will get out of the program.

Strategic Thinking: This session will lay the ground work for the following topics. We will discuss the importance of strategic thinking, how to analyze your current business, and how to identify potential projects that a business can pursue.

February 8, 2024, 6pm – 8pm

Operations: This session lays out how to analyze a project from an operations perspective. We will cover everything from sourcing raw inputs to packaging.

Human Resources: This session looks at the people needed to make the operations flow. We will discuss labor models and best practices for hiring, then look at programs designed to help farmers connect with workers.

February 15, 2024, 6pm – 8pm

Marketing: In this session we will take a high level look at the marketing function. Primarily, we will look at what it takes to build a brand that creates an emotional connection with customers. We will look at some specific marketing tactics, such as social media and paid advertising. We will also look at tools to generate free marketing, i.e. publicity and story driven content.

February 22, 2024, 6pm – 8pm

Business Finance Operations: This session provides a rough overview of the financial framework surrounding a business project.

Project Financing: In this session we will talk about the different ways you can obtain financing for the project.

February 29, 2024, 6pm – 8pm

Finish the Ag-X program strong by hearing from one of Virginia’s most successful ag-entrepreneurs. They’ll help you pull everything together that you’ve been exposed to throughout the workshop series, speaking first hand about growing their operations, facing market headwinds, and how they’re positioning their business for years of growth ahead.

March 28, 2024

Put the pieces together in the optional session 6 by presenting your agribusiness in the Center Street Pitch Competition. Showcase your food, fiber, forestry, or agriculture venture for a chance to win recognition and up to $5,000 in grant funding. Separate application is required and will be provided upon request.

Registration has closed for the 2024 Ag-X.  Check back for future program updates.  

About the Instructors:

Taught by world class instructors Glen Sink and Jett Odle, the Ag-X teaching team has the experience and first hand knowledge to help you grow your business to new heights.

Glen Sink

As an entrepreneur, founder and owner of for-profit enterprises and a leader in non-profit venues, Glen has helped varied businesses in the areas of startup structure, value proposition establishment, customer, personnel and stakeholder discovery, resource procurement and operations. He provides creative and development assistance, personnel, stakeholder and market expertise to rural and agribusiness entities, main street enterprises, educational events, government and the medical arena to profitably grow and serve their communities.

As a SCORE Mentor, Glen’s coaching focuses on behavioral networking, education and entrepreneur development to achieve the vision of growing a sustainable enterprise. His approach guides individuals through enterprise and product creation, development and marketing in both private and non-profit roles building stakeholder value at each touchpoint.

Jett Odle

Jett Odle is a dynamic entrepreneur and visionary leader, best known as the co-founder of Rivers Edge Coffee Company. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, Jett has played a pivotal role in transforming a simple idea into a thriving market leader in the highly competitive Richmond, VA coffee industry.

Jett’s journey into the world of coffee began with a deep passion for the art and science of crafting the perfect cup of joe. Armed with a keen sense of business acumen and a thirst for innovation, he embarked on a mission to bring his coffee dreams to life. In partnership with his brother, he co-founded Rivers Edge Coffee Company in 2018, where he has been one of the driving forces behind its remarkable success.

Jett Odle is also a passionate advocate for community development and sustainable agriculture. In recent years, he has expanded his focus to support the growth of the Richmond area’s local food system as he recognizes the importance of promoting local agriculture and ag-entrepreneurs. He has actively engaged with farmers, artisans, and food producers, offering mentorship and guidance as they endeavor to develop new products and access new markets. Jett’s dedication to fostering a resilient and thriving local food ecosystem not only demonstrates his commitment to the community but also showcases his ability to drive positive change beyond the business world.

Laura Maxey-Neh

Laura Maxey-Nay is a seasoned Agricultural Extension Agent with a deep-rooted connection to agriculture and a passion for entomology. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Entomology from Virginia Tech. Laura’s expertise in insect identification and management led her to work in the state insect identification lab. She has also managed the Hanover Master Gardeners and conducted outreach programs. Laura’s dedication to local farmers led her to become an Agricultural Extension Agent in King William and King and Queen Counties in 2012, later joining Hanover Virginia Cooperative Extension in February 2014. She is a trusted expert in her field.