Resources to Assist Farmers Market Vendors, Our Agricultural Entrepreneurs
7 Sep 2022
Agriculture claims a spot as one of Clinton County’s top industries. With 747 farms and 212,769 acres of farmland (over 80% of the land in Clinton County) bringing in over $116 million, the agriculture industry is vital to the local economy.
Agriculture employment opportunities exist in farm production, agribusiness management and marketing, agricultural research and engineering, food science, processing and retailing, banking, education, landscape architecture, urban planning, and energy. What’s more, a vendor space at a farmers market can be parlayed into small business ownership. Farmers markets provide unique low-barrier entry points into the retail marketplace for new farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs to start small and test new products.
Strolling through a market like the Clinton County Farmers Market may give the perception of quaint operations with limited or niche products; however, significant economic impact is in action. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that farmers markets contribute $9 billion yearly to the U.S. economy. In 2020, of the $2.9 billion direct-to-consumer sales reported by the USDA, on-farm stores and farmers markets accounted for $1.7 billion.
Farmers and other agribusiness entrepreneurs often need assistance to grow, just like any other small business. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has recently promoted its collection of resources and tools with farmers market vendors in mind. Aspiring business owners can bring their dreams to reality with opportunities delivered by Community Navigator Pilot Programs, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. A complete list of resource partners can be accessed here.
Financing solutions are also available from the SBA. Its largest financing program, the 7(a) Loan Program, is an excellent option for businesses that meet eligibility requirements but do not qualify for conventional financing. These 7(a) loans help small business owners buy real estate, equipment, and inventory, as well as acquire working capital and refinance business debt.
Additionally, microloans through SBA funding intermediaries make it easier for eligible businesses to access funds for everything from supplies and equipment to furniture and fixtures. Microlenders can be a valuable resource for free business counseling, too.
Success at the farmers market can often develop into something bigger, like export sales. The SBA’s international trade programs equip small business owners with the tools and know-how to level up and sell their goods and services abroad. For businesses operating for at least a year, the Export Working Capital program increases owners’ chances of getting approved for export financing programs. The International Trade loan program helps businesses expand globally for export sales by providing long-term financing.
Locally, the Clinton County Port Authority (CCPA) partners with the Ohio SBDC to assist small businesses with consulting services, refinancing, and new financing. A list of state and local incentives is available on CCPA’s website.
The Clinton County Farmers Market
May 14th - October 15th, 2022, every Saturday, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
The Clinton County Courthouse Square, Downtown Main Street (between South and Walnut Street), Wilmington, Ohio 45177
The Clinton County Farmers Market is the ultimate vehicle for “Shop Local, Buy Local.” This vibrant marketplace is a true destination, bringing together families, neighbors, and visitors with local food producers and artisans to create a sense of community and social gathering.
The Clinton County Farmers Market is also a launch pad for budding entrepreneurs. The Kids Market provides a space for local children and teens ages 7–17 to have an opportunity to sell their crafts or wares they have made or produced. Kids will experience what it is like to invest in an idea and use their creativity to produce items that others will want to purchase. The next Kids Market date is September 17, 2022. Details and registration can be found here.