Agribusiness Planning Curriculum (Fall)
ACRE’s fall agribusiness planning curriculum is open to a variety of people: new farmers who are having business issues, existing farmers who need help on the business side of their operation, farmers looking to expand or grow their business, and prospective agricultural entrepreneurs who don’t know where to start. The curriculum takes place in Columbia and is taught by the Clemson Agribusiness Extension Program Team.
The curriculum is held in the fall, with five two-hour courses spread out over six weeks, concluding with a pitch day. Attendees will receive training in marketing, financial planning, value-added processes, legal requirements, state and federal grant opportunities, and more.
Upon completion of the program, each participant will have built their own business plan, receive a certificate verifying successful completion, and will have the opportunity to pitch their business for the chance to be awarded one of five $5,000 grants. Past grant winners have been in the fields of horticulture, wool, specialty crops, agricultural education, direct to consumer sales, and container farming, to name a few. To read about a few of the past curriculum winners, click on the “Profiles” tab above.
This a free but competitive program — spots are limited.
For more information or to sign up for updates, contact Kyle Player at email@example.com or 803-734-2324.
Advanced Entrepreneurship Program (Spring)
Our advanced entrepreneurship program, held each year in the late spring, is ACRE’s flagship program that seeks to invest in agricultural entrepreneurship in South Carolina. This competitive program is suited towards agribusinesses of all types that seek funding and mentorship in order to grow or expand their market.
The Advanced Entrepreneurship Program is designed for committed, hard-working entrepreneurs armed with a product they are invested in and passionate about. Applicants must be South Carolina residents, possess a business plan, and have an existing product, prototype, or business. Previous awardees have ranged from upstart businesses with their first crop in the ground to long-time businesses seeking to launch a new product line. To read about some of our past Advanced Entrepreneurship awardees, visit our Profiles page.
Applicants selected as finalists will be asked to pitch their business to a panel of judges. Following the pitch day, the judges will calculate cumulative scores from the pitch, application, and business plan, and will use these scores to determine the awardees.
Awardees receive up to $25,000 in grant funding, access to a network of business advisors, professional assistance with further state and federal grant applications, and promotion of their product across the state and beyond. Having the backing of the SCDA after this competitive vetting and application process helps with future funding as well — previous awardees have gone on to successfully receive angel investment, federal grants, and regional awards.
Applications can be completed online or printed. For more information or to sign up for updates, contact Kyle Player at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-734-2324.
In late 2022–early 2023, ACRE piloted the “South Carolina Career Pathways Program” seeking to provide early-career education to those interested in pursuing a career or degree in agriculture. Participants heard from various agriculture experts covering topics such as career planning, racial equity in agriculture, types of agriculture careers, ag education, and human resources/ interview training. To find out more about the upcoming 2024 program and how to apply, click here.
ACRE supports and participates in a variety of agribusiness activities throughout the state. We believe in extending agricultural education and knowledge to all South Carolinians.
These workshops are free of charge and are held in partnership with organizations such as Clemson Extension, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), SCORE, Rural Resource Coalition, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), and others. These workshops cover a variety of topics relating to agricultural entrepreneurship, in addition to key information about organizations and funding that can help you grow or begin your agribusiness.
Our workshops are held periodically throughout the year, so check the News page to find one near you, or sign up to receive regular email updates by contacting Kyle Player at email@example.com or 803-734-2324.
Switching to Online Markets for Farmers | Access password: 4N@$A372
USDA Value-Added Producer Grant
Grant and Resources 101
Are You a Fit for the Value-Added Producer Grant?
Small Business Energy Grants and Incentives
Innovation in Agriculture: Hydroponic Systems
Small Business Energy Grants and Incentives
Local Food/Farmer Market Promotion Program
Agribusiness Development Grants
ACRE partnered with Matson Consulting, an agribusiness consulting firm in Aiken, in order to produce a comprehensive guide to agribusiness grants and a matching funds guide. Matson Consulting has helped ACRE entrepreneurs apply for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG), Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, and others. When you are awarded funding or accepted into the curriculum you get access to Matson Consulting for assistance with your business plan and grant applications.
Local Food and Logistics
The SC Food Hub Network’s mission is to ensure the food hubs of South Carolina have the capacity, network, and support to advance the visibility and viability of local farms by connecting local foods to local markets. As an emerging approach to state level food system coordination, the creation of a hub network is a pioneering approach that enables hubs to work collaboratively to increase capacity for more diverse and larger volume transactions that increase the marketability and distribution of locally grown product.
Recognizing the early success and potential of the network, ACRE invested $175,000 in the South Carolina Food Hub Network to support network expansion. These funds were used both to support the hubs directly as well as retain consultants to continue facilitating the burgeoning network, provide technical assistance, identify challenges and opportunities, engage stakeholders, and make recommendations for the future.