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Georgia MarketMaker helps local business grow By April Reese Sorrow

In 2001, the Wills family began selling loaves of all-natural bread to friends in the north Georgia mountains. To grow their business, in 2008, they turned to a marketing tool developed by the University of Georgia. Now, they can’t keep up with demand.

“Within a month, contacts starting coming in,” said Bruce Wills, who owns My Daily Bread. “Markets starting contacting us, wanting to sell our bread.”

Wills registered the business on Georgia MarketMaker, UGA’s online interactive mapping system that connects consumers with markets and businesses that make agricultural products in Georgia.

“There has been an explosion in the concept of locally grown, locally manufactured,” Wills said. “MarketMaker as a tool to make businesses like ours known is a great resource. It’s a good publicity tool, and free help. UGA has been very, very good to us.”

The family-run business sells hand-rolled loaves of bread made with fresh-ground wheat and locally-harvested honey. Currently, the company can produce 50 loaves a day. The family is considering an expansion to keep up with demand.

Grocery store chains and restaurants have contracted with the company for their baked goods. And, a North Georgia businessman contacted the company for specialty holiday gift boxes.

“He inquired about sending gift boxes of our products all over the United States,” said Dabrielle Wills. “I actually thought it was a prank call as he had never had our products and wanted gift boxes much larger than we offered. When I asked how he had heard of us, he told us he had found us on MarketMaker!”

MarketMaker

Georgia MarketMaker allows producers to list their businesses, products and links to their websites in a searchable database. And, there’s no charge.

The website also provides producers with pricing information, consumer demographics, and contact information for potential processors, wholesalers and retailers of specialty food products, said Sharon Kane, a food business development specialist with the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

“Anyone with a food-related business should register their business on Georgia MarketMaker,” Kane said. “It is a free resource for businesses and consumers.”

Last year, the site averaged 75,000 web hits, or page views, per month.

Consumers can search for Georgia food products based on different characteristics. They can also find local pick-your-own farms, specialty products sold by local vendors or a list of the 139 farmers markets in the state. The site features 35,000 Georgia food-related businesses and more than 450 producers/farmers.

UGA recently won a National Institute of Food and Agriculture award for its work with MarketMaker. Visit Georgia MarketMaker at www.marketmaker.uga.edu.

Local food forecast

Locally grown foods will be the top topic at the 2011 Ag Forecast, where speakers will talk about what has made their locally grown businesses successful. A keynote speaker will give a broad view on the locally grown trend. UGA agricultural economists will give their annual economic outlook for agriculture and agribusinesses in Georgia, too.

The meetings will be held January 24 in Gainesville at the Georgia Mountains Center; January 25 in Tifton at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center; January 27 in Statesboro at the Nessmith-Lane Center; February 9 in Carrollton at the Carrol County Ag Center; and February 10 in Macon at Georgia Farm Bureau. For more information and to register, visit www.georgiaagforecast.com.

(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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MarketMaker award
MarketMaker award

Georgia Market 00FE Maker recently won a National Institute of Food and Agriculture award for its work with MarketMaker. Sharon Kane accepted the award on behalf of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Visit Georgia MarketMaker at www.marketmaker.uga.edu. 3458

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