AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY DEVELOPMENT SERVICES (AFDS)
The Agriculture and Forestry Development Services Unit (AFDS) was officially established on July 1, 1995, and charged with representing the agency in promoting economic development within Virginia‘s agriculture sector and contributing to the development and expansion of income opportunities in rural Virginia.In its agriculture and forestry development efforts, AFDS promotes and facilitates job creation and investment in agricultural enterprises by assisting Virginia firms in retaining jobs or expanding their base of operations and by recruiting new agribusiness firms to the state. To accomplish this function, AFDS Project Managers respond to requests for assistance from individuals and their partners in the economic and agricultural development community, helping clients navigate and make the most of local, State and Federal business assistance resources. AFDS recruitment and marketing efforts include participation in tradeshows, developing and disseminating materials promoting Virginia and conducting a limited calling program on in-state and out-of-state companies.
The Virginia Office of Farmland Preservation is also housed in the AFDS unit.
The Agriculture and Forestry Development Services Unit is currently comprised of two Project Managers, each with special training in economic development and managing business prospects.
|T. Robins Buck|
Senior Project Manager
804.371.6094, Cell: 804.840.9449
804.786.6911, Cell: 804.382.4023
AFDS is often the first point of contact for agriculture and forestry related businesses considering locating to Virginia or expanding within the state. Depending on the specific needs of the business, specialists in this Unit:
- Link businesses with appropriate resources elsewhere in the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;
- Serve as ombudsmen for businesses with federal, state and local regulatory authorities to resolve development issues;
- Assist businesses in making contacts with other state agencies whose regulations may affect the incoming industry;
- Serve as ombudsmen to localities where business development or expansion is planned;
- Assist businesses with site selection and infrastructure requirements;
- Provide information on the development of business plans and on sources of public and private sector financing;
- Serve as a source of information on community infrastructure, labor resources, environmental requirements and zoning regulations; and
- Assist with grand opening event planning, including invitation design and mailing, program development and printing, involving appropriate public officals and coordinating media coverage.
In attempting to promote job growth in Virginia agriculture, AFDS targets those specific sectors of Virginia agriculture in which Virginia appears to have greatest competitive advantage. While the Unit targets its recruitment efforts to sectors with the best growth potential, the staff assists any agricultural enterprise seeking to expand or locate in Virginia.
Once a business is identified as a potential expansion opportunity or a potential recruit to Virginia, AFDS identifies localities that most closely meet the business’s siting criteria. Working with local, regional, and state economic development allies, the project managers take prospective clients to the best sites and work with localities to successfully recruit the company or complete the expansion. As required, the project manager also secures technical assistance for companies, and strategizes on the development of financing packages for their proposed ventures.