A Feasibility Study is the most important step in new venture development. It reduces startup risk by testing the viability of the business concept before significant resources are committed.
If the Food Systems Assessment phase of work uncovers an opportunity for a new food hub or related business to address a need within the food landscape, we then conduct an extensive Feasibility Study to further shape the business model and test its viability. This step includes interviewing and surveying all relevant players across the local food supply chain, assessing existing local infrastructure, and evaluating potential operating models and ownership structures.
In a for-profit context, the viability of the Feasibility Study is driven by financial models that analyze the potential for the business to earn a satisfactory profit for owners and investors based on a set of reasonable assumptions.
In a nonprofit context, the viability is defined by the client team, and might include the potential of the venture to:
- increase local produce supply in the market
- convert commodity crop acreage to specialty crop acreage
- improve health indicators as a result of increased access to fresh produce
- have positive rural and urban economic impact
- be financially self-sustaining in the long-term
The specific assumptions behind these factors are derived from primary and secondary research, often making use of available data from analogous operations.
Feasibility Study Projects
Learn how we have helped our clients with Feasibility Studies below.
McHenry County College Food Hub
Crystal Lake, IL
The Center for Agrarian Learning (CAL) at McHenry County College offers a non-credit community education in farm viability, an Entrepreneurial Agriculture degree program, and operates a greenhouse and farm as part of its programming. CAL has a vision for adding a food hub to aggregate products grown on campus and from area farms to create a year-round sales channel for local producers looking to increase production or venture into wholesale markets. The program will be one of the few campus-based food hubs in the U.S., training the next generation of food system professionals with real-world experience from production to wholesale, and potentially retail. New Venture Advisors is conducting a feasibility study to determine how this college-based food hub can serve small-to medium sized producers in the region. (2022)
Warehouses4Good Mississippi Delta Food Warehouse
Warehouses4Good is a non-profit organization building a national network of one hundred food warehouses serving rural America, increasing the capacity and integrity of our food value chain. A USDA Rural Business Development Grant was awarded to develop one of its first facilities located in the South Delta region. It will be constructed within an existing building owned by a non-profit organization, housing dry and cold storage, value-added processing, and space for food-related agencies and organizations. The warehouse will strengthen the local food supply chain, support food distributors and small grocers, and geographically expand market opportunities for small farmers and food manufacturing businesses in a seven-county area. New Venture Advisors is conducting a commercial assessment to determine the operating model and building program that will meet their requirements. (2022)
King County Food Hub Conceptual Site Design and Feasibility Study
King County along with its community partners pursue methods to strengthen local food systems, empower residents to start new businesses, and thereby increase access to healthy, affordable food for underserved communities. These efforts hit a major milestone in 2014, when King County adopted the Local Food Initiative—a roadmap for reinforcing and enhancing local food systems across the King County region. During and since that time, several needs assessments and market evaluations have been conducted related to the local food system infrastructure. These studies have analyzed the pressure points and gaps in private market facilities and the benefits of a consolidated local food facility. New Venture Advisors is helping to build upon these past efforts by working with potential operating partners to refine the operating model, facility plan and conceptual site design for a local food hub and to evaluate its cost and financial sustainability. (2022)
God’s Pantry Food Warehouse
God’s Pantry Food Bank serves 50 counties in central and eastern Kentucky in partnership with more than 450 food pantries and meal programs. In 2020 God’s Pantry delivered over 40 million pounds of food from its central warehouse and three regional distribution centers. A fourth is planned in partnership with Warehouses4Good that will add storage and distribution capacity for the food bank, and provide a public warehouse for anchor tenants that could operate in any capacity across the food value chain. New Venture Advisors will engage regional stakeholders, develop an operating model that responds to their needs, program the facility according to their requirements, and outline the strategy for securing their participation. (2022)
North Central Massachusetts Food Campus Feasibility Study
Central Mass Grown and Growing Places are leading an initiative with the North Central Massachusetts (NCMA) Food System Partnership to improve the health and quality of life for residents in Winchendon, the proposed site of a food center. The food center will not only benefit residents; it will also support local businesses and producers, build community wealth, and catalyze the entire NCMA food system. New Venture Advisors is conducting a feasibility study to verify the infrastructure investments the region needs to grow its local food system, the components that could be most beneficial and viable as part of a food hub or food campus, and the operating model that will enable the food campus to house and coordinate activities onsite and across the region. (2022)
Bushel & Peck Food Hub Feasibility Study
Charles Town, WV
Jefferson G.A.P. Coalition launched Bushel & Peck in 2017 to provide better access to healthy foods for all people in Jefferson County, to boost the farm and food economy, and to drive downtown revitalization in historic Charles Town, West Virginia. The store is successful and sustainable with a solid customer base. It plays a critical role in supplying healthy foods to local families during the pandemic, and the Coalition sees the potential to reach an even larger customer base by expanding beyond its retail business into wholesale, serving institutional customers, restaurants and other grocery chains with fresh produce sourced from across the region. New Venture Advisors is exploring the viability of occupying vacant and under-utilized downtown buildings and lots to site food enterprises that may include indoor and outdoor food markets, community gardens, bulk food distribution, and a commercial kitchen, based on the needs identified and prioritized by the community. (2022)
Oneida Community Food Center Business Plan
The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is a federally recognized tribe of Oneida people, with a reservation located on 65,000 acres on the west side of the Green Bay metropolitan area. The tribe works to offer programs, services, and resources that enable the community to carry on with the strength and determination of its ancestors. The Food Center is a new initiative that will teach people how to process and prepare nutritious meals and traditional Oneida foods, serving not only Oneida Nation members, but also entrepreneurs and in the food industry. In 2018 New Venture Advisors investigated the feasibility of this commercial and community-use, regional, and intertribal food production center, and is now assisting with a business plan as the tribe prepares for launch in 2022. (2022)
The Food Basket Community Food Center
The Food Basket (TFB) is Hawai`i Island’s food bank. Increasing demand for the services TFB provides the residents of Hawai`i County is beyond the capacity of its Hilo facility. A new food bank warehouse/community food center in East Hawai`i with the capacity to meet the increased food needs for Hawai`i Island residents has the potential to dramatically improve food access for low-income residents, increase resilience and disaster preparedness, and provide food security for Hawai`i Island. New Venture Advisors will help design this new facility to help accommodate TFB’s growth with added features that will enable TFB to offer new programs and services to the community. (2022)
Damian’s Craft Meats Feasibility Study
Ann Arbor, MI
For six years, Damian’s Craft Meats has been exploring the viability of developing a slaughterhouse and meat processing business that reflects the founders’ deep connection to and understanding of where good food comes from, and their respect for living animals. Moreover, and especially due to the disruption of the meat industry caused by the pandemic, they see an opportunity to reverse patterns of inequality, consolidation, and disinvestment in order to advance an equitable food system and expand the local meat value chain in southeast Michigan. NVA conducted a comprehensive feasibility study of the market, business model and facility plan and developed a business plan for their facility development project. The purpose of this project is to bolster the growth of the region’s meat sector through community collaboration and planning to better support the processing, aggregation, storage, and distribution of locally and regionally produced meat products. (2021)
Barry County Blue Zones Initiative: Community Food Center Feasibility Study
Blue Zones Activate Barry County is part of the global movement that has improved health and well being for entire communities and cities. Barry Community Foundation has joined in the effort to make Barry County a healthier place to live, work, grow up, and grow old. The community recently prioritized changes it would like to see in the food environment with 75% voting for a food hall. Other priorities include health and nutrition education, a year round farmers market and a kitchen incubator. Local leaders see an opportunity to integrate these programs into a Community Food Center, and have identified a promising building in downtown Hastings, MI to house them. Before making any investments, New Venture Advisors will conduct a feasibility study to determine if this combination of components is viable, if the building is the right one, or if a different mix of food programs and enterprises or a different location would better serve the community. (2021)
Spartanburg Community Food Center Feasibility Study
Spartanburg Food System Coalition is an initiative of Partners for Active Living, a nonprofit organization that advances active living, promotes healthy eating and fosters health equity in Spartanburg County. The main goals of the Coalition are to create greater access to healthy food and to strengthen the local food system. Its diverse members represent business, academia, government, health care and NGOs focused on healthy eating and community improvement. In 2020, the Coalition completed a food system assessment and plan that pointed to the development of a Community Food Center where many of the recommended initiatives could be located under one roof. NVA has completed a preliminary assessment of the community’s needs and recommended continued pathways for building community engagement and navigating the development of an operational model. (2021)
Shenandoah Valley Agricultural Enterprise Center Feasibility Study
The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission wants to support business diversification and growth in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia through value-added products and the delivery of agricultural goods and products to new markets. An Agricultural Enterprise Center has the potential to significantly accelerate this growth. This multi-use facility is intended to help growers and producers expand their market area, bridge the market gap, and pool together products to meet market demands. New Venture Advisors completed a feasibility study to determine the size, scale and location of the Ag Enterprise Center, the components to be included, and the economic benefits for the region. (2021) Read the report here.
Rural Grocery Food Hub Assessment
The North Central Regional Planning Commission of Kansas spearheaded a study to support rural growers, consumers and grocery stores in North Central Kansas. Its vision was to assist rural grocery stores in establishing a local food hub within their operation to bring them additional revenue, provide new sources of revenue for local producers, and bring more local agricultural products into the community. NVA led the study, which began with grocery store owners conducting self-assessments using NVA’s Rural Grocery HubSizer® tool. (2017)
Greater Kansas City Food Hub
Kansas City, KS
A coalition of individuals and organizations worked towards the establishment of a local food hub to aggregate and distribute local produce in the Kansas City region. NVA completed the feasibility study in 2014 and the food hub launched as Fresh Farm HQ in 2016.
New London County Food Hub Feasibility Study
New London, CT
This study, led by United Way of Southeastern Connecticut and the New London County Food Policy Council, assessed the food landscape in the region to determine the optimal operating model for a food hub in the county and the financial viability of this potential hub. The study resulted in a decision to move forward with a nonprofit, services-focused food hub whose aim is to support growers in expanding production. Read the report here. (2015)
Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study
This study led by Dane County Planning and Development explored the feasibility of creating an aggregation and distribution facility in southern Wisconsin serving customers in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago. The report is an excellent example of a public entity creating a strategic foundation from which a public or private interest may continue business development. Read the report here. (2011)