The topic was “growth” at an agricultural workshop that took place in southern Miami-Dade last month. However, the focus wasn’t on crops, but on businesses.
Organized by the Florida Small Business Development Center at FIU, the Agribusiness Growth Workshop brought together more than 70 business owners, entrepreneurs, lenders and others involved in the region’s agribusiness sector. From fruit growers to bacteria farmers, attendees learned about the technological innovations that are changing agribusiness, about capital available to businesses in rural areas and about identifying expansion opportunities in overseas markets.
“The international trade presentation in particular was very beneficial,” said Julyann Borges, president of PJ Citrus, a wholesaler and packaging distributor in Homestead. “It’s something that a lot of people think is more difficult than it really is. It’s good to have someone show that it’s possible to grow internationally.”
The event, co-hosted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, took place at IFAS’s offices at the Miami-Dade County Extension Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces facilities in Homestead. Participants included Miami-Dade County Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Dennis Moss.
Florida SBDC at FIU consultant Shelly Bernal presented on trends in international trade, while consultant Alina Matas led a session on the fundamentals of developing a business plan. Also speaking were representatives from Florida Capital Bank, which offers commercial loans backed by the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
FIU engineering adjunct professor and entrepreneur “Vish” Subramanian Viswanathan spoke on how technology is impacting the agribusiness sector, particularly with the use of sensors and mobile technology for monitoring crops and tracking distribution.
“The agribusiness sector in Miami-Dade has been undergoing tremendous change,” said Jaqueline Sousa, regional director of the SBDC at FIU, and the event moderator. “We want to make sure that local agribusinesses are aware that change brings opportunity and that our center is ready to help them identify and capitalize on those opportunities.”
Florida SBDC at FIU’s team of highly experienced business consultants helps businesses grow and succeed by providing no-cost business consulting to entrepreneurs and small-business owners. The Florida SBDC at FIU annually assists more than 800 entrepreneurs and business owners with access to capital, financial management, exporting, marketing, government contracting and more. For more information about the center, visit SBDC.FIU.EDU.