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Aug. 30, 2012
Updated Oct. 12, 2012
The USDA has awarded $37,340 to Northwest Missouri State University in support of the University’s Market Opportunities for Regional Entrepreneurs (MORE) project, an interdisciplinary initiative aimed at supporting regional meat producers interested in making their products more accessible to local consumers.
Northwest was among three local entities to receive USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grants, which are designed to finance and develop small and emerging private business enterprises in rural areas. Janie Dunning, Missouri state director for USDA Rural Development, presented Certificates of Congratulations to representatives of Northwest and the other grant recipients – Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation and Nodaway County Economic Development Inc. – during a recognition event today on the Northwest campus.
MORE combines the efforts of students and faculty from Northwest’s departments of Agricultural Sciences and Business. The program was developed under the leadership of Lurinda Gilliland, instructor of agricultural sciences, and Dr. Benjamin Blackford, assistant professor of management, with the collaboration of Dr. Chi Lo Lim, associate professor of management; Dr. Deb Toomey, assistant professor of marketing; Dr. Callie Walker, assistant professor of agricultural sciences; and Dr. Naveen Musunuru, assistant professor of agricultural sciences. Annette Weeks of Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation also assisted with the concept development.
Northwest Provost Dr. Doug Dunham emphasized the importance of the University’s collaborative efforts between academic departments as well as with community groups.
“This type of collaboration is important to our success not only as an institution but as a community,” Dunham said. “As our community thrives we will have more opportunities at Northwest Missouri State, which makes northwest Missouri a greater place to teach, learn and live.
MORE is designed to help agriculture-related businesses and other small businesses find new ways to add value to existing beef products or to find other uses for the products. The goal is to develop new markets that should increase the profitability of businesses while saving and creating additional jobs in the beef industry.
The collaborative will host six focus groups in northwest Missouri to identify gaps that may be curbing producers’ ability to deliver their products to consumers. Each focus group will discuss and identify issues that hinder market opportunities for producers, limit the growth of processor-businesses and constrain the adoption of regional meat products by local consumers. MORE also will collect information regarding technical, operational and financial aspects of the small scale beef producers of the region to provide them with a more detailed picture of the region’s strengths and limitations.
After analyzing the information collected during the focus groups and preparing a final report, the coalition will host six forums to disseminate their information and share best practices.
The MORE project also seeks to identify market needs for value-added beef products in the region and help local beef producers and businesses with developing successful production and marketing strategies for those products.
Northwest expects beneficiaries of the project to include small and startup producers who want to market or expand their current offerings for niche opportunities for farm-raised beef; meat processors; consumers such as regional restaurateurs, meat markets, grocery stores and individuals; and Northwest faculty and students and agents of Enterprise Facilitation who will establish and nurture connections with community constituents.
“This grant is going to give our students the opportunity to interact with local producers retailers, processors, restaurants and consumers in developing a real world, locally implemented business model,” Gilliland said. “The MORE meat project will allow students to take the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom and put it into practice to improve the economic vitality of our region. This is an opportunity for students to think critically about what is going on in our current supply chain and then use their problem-solving skills to identify and work with those issues that are raised during the town hall meetings we will have in the spring.”
Individuals seeking more information about the MORE project may send an email to MORENW@nwmissouri.edu. For more information about USDA Rural Development programs and grant opportunities visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468