Missouri Enterprise, Business Assistance Center (Missouri Enterprise) announces Bob Thompson as the new director of value-added agriculture.

In his new capacity, Thompson will provide leadership of the Value-Added Agriculture Cooperative Assistance Program. Most recently, Thompson served as president of the Firstar Bank, Rolla.

Missouri Enterprise, a not-for-profit business assistance center, has provided technical and business assistance to rural Missouri since 1988.

Missouri Enterprise, with the added financial resources of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Cooperative Development Grant and in-kind support from Missouri Department of Agriculture, has expanded its business and technical assistance programs to serve agricultural producer groups evaluating value-added agriculture business opportunities this past year. What is new is the focus on "value-added" agriculture, where individual producers become more involved throughout the "value chain," in order to retain more of the profits. Missouri Enterprise has actively worked with agriculture producers across the state.

Thompson will guide agricultural efforts to assist agriculture producers, in the preparation of business and technical feasibility studies, market research, analysis, plans, strategies, business and financial plans for value-added projects. Technology research and development, new product development, processing plant design, implementation and other technical and business support will be available to agriculture producers. Integral to the evaluation of business and financial structure, the advantages of forming "new generation" cooperatives will be examined as a means of providing producers more leverage and influence in the marketplace.

The Missouri General Assembly has provided resources to assist in the creation of "new generation cooperatives" to give individual producers collective power in the marketplace.

"I am excited about the new challenges and opportunities working with Missouri agriculture producers through the Missouri Enterprise Agriculture Program," stated Thompson.

Thompson has made major contributions to the success of Missouri Enterprise, having served on its board of directors since 1986. Thompson served as board president from 1988 to 1989, and served as corporate secretary and member of the board's Executive and Finance Committee.

In making the announcement, Russ Lindenlaub, executive director of Missouri Enterprise said, "His knowledge of what it takes for a successful business venture, combined with his life-long love of agriculture, are sure to make a major contribution to the future success of agriculture producers in Missouri."

Thompson also comes with a life-long love for and commitment to Missouri agriculture. He was raised, and continues to live, on the Thompson family farm, just south of Rolla. Growing up, he assisted his mother and father in operation of the GIen Grove dairy farm, milking 25 head of prized Jerseys. In recognition of their lifelong commitment to Missouri agriculture, his parents were inducted, in 1997, into the University of Missouri's prestigious Dairy Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Gretchen, enjoy raising prized Polled Herefords that have earned national recognition.

"Viability of the farmer is important, not only to the economic impact, but also for the social economic well being of rural Missouri," states Thompson.

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