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College Enters into Agricultural Partnership with CIFT

Agribusiness Incubator Program Offers Economic Development Potential

September 2, 2010

Pictured meeting on campus Thursday are, from the left, Rebecca Singer, CIFT vice president and director, agricultural programs; Rob Jaehnig, CIFT agribusiness development specialist; President Dan DiBiaiso; and Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture at WC.

Pictured meeting on campus Thursday are, from the left, Rebecca Singer, CIFT vice president and director, agricultural programs; Rob Jaehnig, CIFT agribusiness development specialist; President Dan DiBiaiso; and Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture at WC.

Wilmington College and the Center for Innovative Food Technologies (CIFT) announce a partnership to establish agricultural business development activities in southwest Ohio.

The centerpiece of the new relationship will be a food, agricultural and agribusiness incubator program designed to help stimulate job growth.

Wilmington College President Dan DiBiasio said the partnership with CIFT, which will have a physical presence on WC’s campus, is a major step in the College’s community outreach in sustaining a local food economy.

“We believe CIFT and the agriculture business incubator program will elevate what we started in 2009 with our Grow Food, Grow Hope initiative to an even higher level — that is building a local food capacity that promotes economic and job growth,” DiBiasio said.

“The vision we have with this partnership between the College and CIFT is going to help Clinton County,” he added. “CIFT offers an impressive scope of programs that will be complemented by the expertise we have here on campus with our Agriculture and Business departments.”

Coinciding with the WC/CIFT partnership is the hiring of Rob L. Jaehnig as CIFT’s agribusiness development specialist. Jaehnig is a member of the Wilmington City Council and, for nine years, was a manager with Con-Way Freight in Hillsboro.

He will take the lead in the design, development and implementation of programs that will become offerings of the College’s agricultural business incubator.

Rob L. Jaehnig

His charge also includes assessing such CIFT programs as Shared Use Kitchen, Food Safety Training, Alternate Growing Systems and Energy Crop Evaluation with regard to their suitability in conjunction with the College’s programs.

In addition, he will be involved with creating a presence for CIFT in southwest Ohio by establishing connections in the region with foundations, government agencies and other organizations with similar missions.

DiBiasio cited Jaehnig’s significant knowledge of business development, operations and technical support, as well as a familiarity with marketing and sales.

“Rob brings a breadth of experience and expertise to this new position, along with an appreciation for the College’s mission in higher education, its heritage in agriculture and commitment to serving the community,” DiBiasio said.

Jaehnig is employed by CIFT and housed at the College; however, he has reporting responsibilities with both entities. His office will be in Fife Hall, which is on the grounds of the College’s academic farm on Fife Ave.

Jaehnig said he is excited about the opportunity to play a key role in the agribusiness partnership.

“As much as Wilmington College is looking forward to working with the Center for Innovative Food Technology, CIFT is just as excited about what the College can do for them,” he said, noting the Toledo-based CIFT has had a goal of enhancing its sphere of influence in southwest Ohio.

“CIFT is interested in becoming more of a state-known entity,” he said. “It wants to extend its brand and is excited to be partners with Wilmington College, which is a leader in higher education agriculture in Ohio.”

David Beck, CIFT’s president and CEO, said the Center for Innovative Food Technology has a “proud, 15-year history” of providing innovative solutions for the agricultural and agribusiness industries.

“Our member base is spread across Ohio and beyond, and we look forward to building our presence in southwest Ohio,” Beck said. “Knowing this partnership utilizes the superior resources and expertise of Wilmington College, everyone should benefit.”

CIFT is a developer and provider of technical innovations and solutions for the food processing, agribusiness and agricultural sectors of the economy in Ohio and beyond. These innovations and solutions are developed in order to enhance the economic performance of the food processing and agriculture sectors.

CIFT, which was established by the State of Ohio in 1995, is one of seven Edison Technology Center programs located throughout Ohio. The Edison programs provide a variety of product and process innovation and commercialization services to technology-based businesses.