The Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) supports value-added producers in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia by providing access to training, consulting, and capital—essential building blocks for business success. Whether you’re still in the idea stage or whether you’ve been established for a bit longer, we offer a range of resources designed to enhance your business knowledge and skills. These services are separate from our signature Producers Growth Program and Producers Startup Program, and can be easily customized to meet your specific needs and schedule.
Services are provided in house or through our partners, and they’re all available either free of charge or at a reduced cost. Start your journey today by learning more about our programming!
Connect with and learn from a vibrant community of your fellow entrepreneurs. CAIC instructors offer a variety of interactive one-hour webinars and two-hour workshops that will deepen your understanding of essential business concepts—from market research and segmentation to managing working capital. Classes are held in both in-person and virtual formats, ensuring accessibility.
To learn more about our upcoming webinars and workshops, visit our Events page, or check our social media pages.
Learn at your own pace through our partner’s self-guided online training platform. With a wide range of topics covered—including income statements, balance sheets, and digital marketing solutions—you can choose as many or as few as you want. We appreciate the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) for making this content available to the CAIC community for free.
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Find the tools and expertise you need for your business to thrive. Whether you’re still in the idea stage or whether you’ve been established for a bit longer, CAIC is here to support you. From funding assistance to market research, our team of consultants will set you up for success.
To sign up for any of our business services, please start by filling out the brief registration form linked below.
Don’t go it alone. Our consultants take the time to understand your unique challenges, goals, and aspirations, and will help you develop industry-specific strategies that align with your vision for success.
You’ll start with a complimentary consulting session, during which you’ll discuss your goals and challenges. From there, you’ll work out a plan that fits your schedule and budget. Through the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), our business consulting services are offered to value-added producers at a discounted rate of just $20 per hour, making them accessible to companies at any growth stage.
Plan for your success. Our expert consultants are here to assist you in creating business and marketing plans that are tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Through the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), our business and marketing plan development services are offered to value-added producers at a discounted rate of just $20 per hour, making them accessible to companies at any growth stage. The number of hours required will vary by individual.
Find your customers, and set your financial benchmarks. Our consultants use BizMiner software to provide up-to-date market and financial research, tailored to your business and location. With this information, you’ll be able to create accurate budgets and make projections aligned with industry trends.
Through the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), our market and financial data research services are offered to value-added producers at a discounted rate of just $70 per report. This covers the research as well as a personalized session to interpret the data and set actionable goals based on it.
Apply for USDA funding to grow your business. CAIC offers substantially discounted grant writing services to producers interested in applying for the USDA Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), which helps cover production and marketing costs. Click below to learn more about our grant writing services.
Access the capital you need to take your company to the next level. Through our partner SERCAP, we’re pleased to offer business loans of up to $100,000 for purposes including working capital, equipment, construction, and inventory.
Navigate the legal and regulatory landscape with confidence. CAIC is proud to partner with the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI) at the University of Maryland, which is there to meet the unique legal needs of farmers and value-added producers—from food safety to agriculture law (and more).
Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.
CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.