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April 30, 2007

Economic development experts win Purdue Agriculture Team Award

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An interdisciplinary group dedicated to aiding in the launch and expansion of businesses for Indiana's economic development has won the 2007 Purdue University Agriculture Team Award.

Begun in 2002, the New Ventures Team, composed of Purdue Cooperative Extension Service educators and university faculty, helps people evaluate, develop and expand all types of commercial enterprises. The team obtained a $1 million USDA-Rural Development Program to form the Agricultural Innovation and Commercialization Center (AICC) in 2003. The team award to the New Ventures/AICC team will be presented during a May 10 public ceremony.

"We started the New Ventures Team to respond to community needs based on questions received in county Extension offices and offices here on campus," said Joan Fulton, Purdue agricultural economics professor and co-chair of the team. "The AICC philosophy is to provide tools so people can evaluate and analyze business ideas themselves. It's in the spirit of helping people help themselves."

The other co-chairs named in the award are Jerry Nelson, Purdue New Ventures educator, and Michael Boehlje, professor of agricultural economics on the AICC.

Purdue New Ventures/AICC team provides assistance through one-on-one consultations, publications, workshops, research and INVenture, an online tool for developing a business plan. The team has presented more than 70 workshops to more than 1,800 people since the group's inception. The topics include grant writing, new business evaluation, organics, agritourism, starting a food business, and targeted sales and marketing.

"One of our most popular workshops is Bigger Profits through Targeted Sales," Fulton said. "People who have never attended an Extension event before have taken advantage of these."

In nominating the New Ventures/AICC team, Sally Thompson, head of Purdue's Department of Agricultural Economics, said the group epitomizes teamwork.

"The Purdue AICC/New Ventures team exemplifies a group of diverse Extension professionals joining together to address an important societal need to a significant target audience," Thompson said. "Their efforts have stimulated and supported entrepreneurial activity in the state and the nation."

Randy Woodson, the Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture, said the team has been successfully innovative in developing materials to meet the needs of those interested in initiating or expanding businesses.

"Their workshops and publications are so appropriate for spurring economic development that professionals in other states are adopting them," Woodson said.

The team has a series of publications available online that cover workshop topics and other areas relevant to business development. The materials are available online at

"The publications give longevity to our economic development training," Fulton said. "They include worksheets and checklists so that people can evaluate the business potential and make their own decisions about the direction to take."

Fulton said people who come to the New Ventures/AICC seminars and who use the publications are in three different categories:

* Farmers who want to expand beyond traditional farming into areas such as agritourism, ethanol or corn masa.

* Farm families who want to start a separate business not connected to the farm.

* Small- and medium-sized businesses not associated with agriculture. About 75 percent of the attendees at sales and marketing workshops last fall were from non-agricultural businesses, including home heating contractors, financial planners, florists, beauty product sales people, a towing service owner and a pest control business owner.

The New Ventures/AICC team is constantly researching new ways to market its services to groups not familiar with the program, Fulton said. The research also results in refining workshops and publications and developing new ones.

The awards program is free and open to the public. It will begin at 2 p.m. in the Deans' Auditorium in Pfendler Hall with a presentation by the team. A reception with refreshments will follow the award presentation.

The other team members are:

* Jay Akridge, James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics

* Alice Alderson, Parke County Extension educator

* Jane Anderson, AICC assessment specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Freddie Barnard, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Michael Boehlje, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Jennifer Dennis, assistant professor, departments of Horticulture and Agricultural Economics

* Craig Dobbins, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Kelly Easterday, Kosciusko County Extension educator

* Steven Engleking, LaGrange County Extension educator

* Ken Foster, professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Allan Gray, associate professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Vickie J. Hadley, Allen County Extension educator

* Kirby Hayes, associate professor, Department of Food Science

* Linda Heckaman, senior program manager, Center for Food and Agricultural Business, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Nick Held, Dearborn County Extension educator

* Laura Hoelscher, senior editor, Department of Agricultural Communication

* Aissa Irvin, program manager Center for Food and Agricultural Business

* Betty Jones, associate director, Center for Food and Agricultural Business

* Tom Jordan, assistant director, Purdue Cooperative Extension Service

* Kevin Keener, associate professor, Department of Food Science

* Jim Luzar, Montgomery County Extension educator

* Maria Marshall, assistant professor, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Joy May, New Ventures Team program manager, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Kwamena Quagrainie, aquaculture marketing director, Department of Agricultural Economics

* Chris Sigurdson, head, Department of Agricultural Communication

* Steve Smith, processing specialist, Department of Food Science

* Steve Swain, rural rehabilitation specialist and outreach coordinator, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

* Bernie Tao, professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering

* Dan Wilson, Decatur County Extension educator

* Margaret Zoglmann, Perry County Extension educator

Writer: Susan A. Steeves, (765) 496-7481,

Source: Joan Fulton, (765) 494-0594,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Beth Forbes,
Agriculture News Page

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