PIKETON, Ohio -- Ohio is joining a nationwide Web-based business program that connects agricultural markets to the clients they serve, whether locally or across state lines.
MarketMaker is a free, interactive Web resource that contains demographic and business data that users can search to find producers, processors, distributors, farmer's markets, buyers and other targeted groups in the food industry. MarketMaker was launched in 2004 by the University of Illinois Extension with the intention of building an electronic infrastructure that would more easily connect food-producing farmers with economically viable new markets. The program has now spread to numerous states, with Ohio, Indiana and Michigan coming on board in 2008.
"Kentucky launched their site in 2007 and had 70,000 hits in the first month. We hope to see similar success here in Ohio," said Julie Fox, direct marketing and tourism development specialist for Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon. "MarketMaker makes it easier for buyers and sellers to make connections that support local and regional foods. The program addresses niche market needs, as well as situations of oversupply or lack of supply.
Fox said that MarketMaker capitalizes on the growing demand for locally produced foods and uses technology to provide comprehensive buyer/seller information. The program also goes one step further by including demographic and census data allowing both buyers and sellers to focus on a more targeted area for products.
Ohio MarketMaker will formally launch in early 2008 and is supported by Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Center for Innovative Food Technology.
Organizers are now accepting producer and farmer registrations to be included in the MarketMaker database.
"The initial response from producers and wineries has been tremendous," said Fox. For more information or to register, log on to http://directmarketing.osu.edu/ohiomarketmaker, or contact Julie Fox at (740) 289-2071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.