June 2016: Agri-Business

JeffersonCountyAgriculture.com goes live

Jay Matteson

Jay Matteson

Mark D. Waterhouse, president of Garnet Consulting Services, Pleasant Valley, Conn., spoke at the Jefferson County Economic Development Forum on May 18. Mr. Waterhouse is recognized within the economic development community for his success in helping communities attract new development and grow existing business. During Mr. Waterhouse’s commentary, he discussed effective marketing techniques to attract new business. His remarks and the data he presented demonstrated the needs for improved efforts and support for some of the actions we’ve taken to improve our presence.
According to a survey Mark cited during his presentation, 67 percent of the businesses looking for new locations said that Internet presence, especially a strong website, are the most effective marketing techniques. He explained that an Internet presence implies the recognition your community receives online through news stories, Internet advertising, and websites. Having a good website that tells your community’s story is important. What happens when someone searches “Jefferson County” or “Watertown, N.Y.?” If many of the top search results yield negative stories, or little information, you have probably been eliminated from consideration for a business looking for a home.

In the Jefferson County Economic Development office, Marshall Weir, our marketing director, has been constantly upgrading our online presence, especially jcida.com. He has worked with our webmasters to provide more information and in a better format than ever before. In fact, the New York State Economic Development Council just recognized the JCIDA website for its quality Internet presence.

We are also improving our agricultural website, JeffersonCountyAgriculture.com. This website has existed for 14 years as comefarmwithus.com and that address is still active. But we felt we needed to tell Jefferson County’s agriculture story a little better, especially to attract new and growing for agribusinesses. We had tremendous success with comefarmwithus.com. We were able to attract more than 16 farm businesses to our county over the years and still receive calls of farmers from elsewhere looking for farmland to buy. We also used it to support attracting businesses such as Morris Northstar Hatchery. The owners had been looking for a location in Western New York near Buffalo where they could build a multimillion-dollar hatchery and export poultry to Canada. But not quite satisfied with what they were finding, they did an Internet search and found our website. From there, they began working with our office and finally built their hatchery in the County Industrial Park off Coffeen Street.

Our new website builds upon that success. It has three targets to serve.

Our first target is our existing farm community. We’re trying to place information on the site that helps deliver everyday information needs such as the “Current Agricultural Topics” feature. Farmers can go there to find out what some of the issues are in agriculture or what events are coming up that they may want to attend.

The consumers section of the site features an interactive map to local foods. Visitors can select what type of food they are looking for, such as eggs, enter their address and how far they are willing to travel, and then a map will show all the farms we are aware of that sell farm-fresh eggs to the public. You can even download directions on how to get to the farm from the map. We also link to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Local Foods page to enhance our visitors’ ability to find the information they look for.

The third section of our site is for agribusinesses. Here we are particularly targeting a site selector doing an Internet search to find possible sites for an agricultural business they may represent. In our present intensive effort to attract European agricultural manufacturing and food processing, it is critical for us to have a prime web presence.

We encourage you to visit jeffersoncountyagriculture.com. Please let us know whether you like it or if you see room for improvement. Websites are always a journey to maintain and must continually be updated. Your input is valuable in enhancing Jefferson County’s Internet presence.

Jay M. Matteson is agricultural coordinator for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. He is a lifelong Northern New York resident who lives in Lorraine. Contact him at coordinator@comefarmwithus.com. His column appears monthly in NNY Business.