Our Services

The Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) offers business development, business maintenance, and business education services and programs to new and existing agriculture and rural businesses.  Our business development activities focus on properly developing new cooperatives and producer-owned businesses, and KCARD adheres to sound business development practices in delivering these services.  KCARD’s business maintenance services are designed to assist businesses with the decision-making fundamentals required to operate a business operation.  Finally, KCARD provides educational programs that are aimed at developing a better understanding of business operations.


KCARD believes in taking a very hands-on approach in delivering technical assistance to its clients.  We like to spend time on-site with the client so we can be more effective in our service offerings to the clients.  Also, we like to customize each of our services to meet the specific needs of the business.  KCARD wants to remain involved in the business after the initial service offering, and we will continue to make professional business consultations if the business so desires.
KCARD’s clients are small and medium sized new and existing agribusinesses and rural businesses in state of Kentucky.  A majority of KCARD’s clients come from the following key agriculture business sector groups:
  • Value Added – Dairy, Meat (Beef, Pork, Lamb/Goat, Small Animals); Produce
  • Dietary – Organic; Religious (Jewish, Halaal); Health (Cardiac, Diabetic)
  • Processors and Distributors
  • Logistics (Supply Chain, Method and Control, Information, and Transportation)
  • Agritourism
  • Retail Goods and Services
  • Renewable Energy
  • Farmers’ Markets
KCARD Business Development

KCARD provides assistance to groups in the formation and start-up of their business operation.  KCARD is committed to following sound business development practices in assisting cooperatives and businesses in the development stage to make sure they have the best chance to succeed.  KCARD takes a very hands-on approach to business and cooperative development, and wants to be involved with the group during the entire process.  KCARD’s business development process includes the following:


Assisting with Feasibility Studies and Market Assessments

Feasibility studies are an important part of fully investigating a potential business idea. They focus on helping answer the essential question, “Should we continue to proceed with this business venture?” A feasibility analysis centers on three general areas: marketing feasibility, management feasibility, and production or technical feasibility.  KCARD typically works with other organizations, such as the University of Kentucky, to help develop various parts of feasibility studies.


Assisting with Business Management and Operations Analysis

BMOA is a comprehensive study of business’ operations. The objective is to provide a business’ management and the board of directors with information and materials that will help in the planning and decision making. It also provides the business with benchmark materials from which to measure progress and growth g during the next few years.  


Assisting with Incorporation and Adoption of Legal Agreements

KCARD can assist with determining the best business type, such as corporations, limited liability companies, sole proprietorship, to fit your operation, and determine the proper paperwork to complete and file with the Secretary of State.


Assisting with the Recruitment and Hiring of Managers


Developing Organizational Charts, Administrative and Personnel Policies, and Job Descriptions


KCARD Business Maintenance Services

Business maintenance services are designed to begin once the development process is completed.  The business development process sets the organization up properly, but further assistance is needed as unforeseen issues arise. KCARD works closely with established businesses to assist with the decision-making fundamentals required to operate an effective and efficient operation.  KCARD participates in many activities to assist existing agribusinesses. These services include:


On-site Business Consultations

In providing any of its services to its clients, KCARD finds it very important to spend time at the business location of the client to ensure that KCARD understands the business operations and its needs as well as possible. Informal meeting between KCARD staff and owner/manager of business to follow‐up on recent business activity and previously identified issues; Planned meetings with multiple representatives of the business and KCARD staff to plan business activities, discuss a specific issue within the business, or facilitate open dialogue on business operations, and; ASAP meeting with KCARD staff and management of the business to address urgent issues within the business or discuss new opportunities for the business.  


Business Plan Development

A business plan is a company’s roadmap for success.  KCARD staff is capable of facilitating the process of developing or updating a business plan for new and existing businesses. KCARD only plays the role of the facilitator and works closely with a company’s owners and managers to complete a comprehensive business plan.


Recordkeeping Assistance

For start‐up businesses: KCARD often helps with choosing appropriate software, developing the most efficient physical tracking systems, and developing specialized templates such as invoices, bills of lading, and appropriate financial reports.

For existing businesses: Recordkeeping also becomes more important as a result of growth , so KCARD provides services that are tailored to specific client needs.  Recordkeeping systems need to be evaluated periodically and changed as needs and business activity change.

As an additional service to clients, KCARD provides software specific training through third party trainers.


Cost Analysis

KCARD assists startups and existing businesses determine all costs to produce their various products and services. Key goals for cost analysis are to determine breakeven prices and/or volumes for clients, and to help clients make pricing decisions. KCARD develops cost analysis models that are tailored to specific client needs and account for all costs. KCARD also performs sensitivity analysis for clients by answering “what if” questions, such as what would be the effect on profitability if certain costs change.


Marketing Plan Development

KCARD can assist start‐ups and existing businesses develop a marketing plan that addresses specific goals of the business and provides marketing strategies that fit their targeted customer groups to achieve those goals, and update marketing plans and perform the necessary market research. A well‐defined marketing plan helps businesses make the most of  their marketing dollars  in terms of more customers and higher sales.


Facility and Store Layout Assessment

KCARD can assist clients with designing or redesigning the layout of its store or production facility. It is important that a facility be laid out in a manner to facilitate a logical flow of materials and maximize efficiency, and customer flow, product location, shelving, and displays are factors that need to be considered in a retail store.


Board Meeting Participation

KCARD staff often attend and participate in board meetings for its clients KCARD understands the value of having a third party offering objective information and input in these meetings, and is willing to serve as ex‐officio members of a board of directors for our clients.


Board Training

KCARD provides Board Training to mutually owned agricultural and rural based businesses, including cooperatives, LLCs, and nonprofit organizations. Topics KCARD has addressed in previous board trainings include: Conflict Management, Board Members- Roles & Responsibilities, Officers- Roles & Responsibilities, Conducting Board Meetings & Understanding Parliamentary Procedure, and Corporate Records that Must be Kept and Maintained- General & Financial.

KCARD Trainings & Programs

KCARD offers a variety of training programs for its clients.         


Board Training:

The board of Directors of any organization/business is an important body that plays the key position between member/owners and hired management. A well-functioning Board of Directors is essential for an organization to not only meet legal requirements, but also to successfully achieve their goals. In general, boards are instrumental in developing organizational policy, providing oversight to ensure the organization’s mission is fulfilled, and keeping the organization financially healthy. Yet, many boards struggle with how to fulfill these duties in a business manner.


KCARD provides Board Training to mutually owned agricultural and rural based businesses, including cooperatives, LLCs, and nonprofit organizations. Topics KCARD has addressed in previous board trainings include: Conflict Management, Board Members- Roles & Responsibilities, Officers- Roles & Responsibilities, Conducting Board Meetings & Understanding Parliamentary Procedure, and Corporate Records that Must be Kept and Maintained- General & Financial.


Clients can request KCARD’s assistance in board training and development to help the board meet their full potential. KCARD does not have a cookie cutter presentation for board training. KCARD staff will meet with the board members and hired management to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the board. From this consultation, staff will develop a training plan to address issues facing the board and to meet the needs of the organization. KCARD believes the key to successful board training is working hands-on with the organizational board preparing a program that will work to meet their needs. Board training conveys the knowledge and understanding needed in order to be effective as a member of any governing Board of Directors.


Manager & Staff Training:

KCARD recognizes the value of professional management in the success of business operations. KCARD provides training to new managers on the vital management functions. For managers of cooperatives, KCARD provides training and education materials on cooperative basics and principles. KCARD also has the capability of training cooperative employees on the basics of a cooperative.


QuickBooks & Microsoft Excel Training:

KCARD provides training services to employees for basic computer applications, such as Microsoft Excel, Quicken, and QuickBooks. If a business has a training need outside of KCARD’s capabilities, we will assist the business to locate proper training and possibly help pay for the expense.


Cooperative Internship Program:

KCARD sponsors and implements the Cooperative Internship program at the University of Kentucky. The internship program allows a student to learn about cooperatives, cooperative and business development, business plans, feasibility studies, and other associated University programs. The program also gives a student the opportunity to coordinate and participate in conferences, and it provides the student the chance to network with agricultural and cooperative leaders across the state. For more information, please contact Nathan Routt.

KCARD Client Requirements

The Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) will work with developing or existing agricultural and rural businesses.  


KCARD will provide on-going assistance to businesses once KCARD and a business outlines and agrees upon the proper approach (including feasibility assessment, business plan development, and proper management) for growing the business.

KCARD Webinars

KCARD's webinars provide education training opportunities.