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Awards / Honors

Value chain nominated for national award

November 8, 2013

A CSU study that maps the economic relationships among the various sectors of Colorado's agricultural, food, and beverage industries has been recognized nationally.

The Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture was one of four finalists in the “Research and Analysis” category for the University Economic Development Association’s annual “Awards of Excellence.”Genna Hurd, co-chair of the UEDA Awards of Excellence Committee; Kathay Rennels, assistant vice president for Community and Economic Development, CSU; Greg Graff, associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, CSU, and author of The Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture study; Charles E. Shoopman, UEDA President; and Gene Merrell, co-chair of the UEDA Awards of Excellence Committee.

The UEDA Awards of Excellence were presented during the group’s annual summit held Oct. 27-29 in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Value Chain of Colorado Agriculture study, a joint effort of CSU’s Office of Community and Economic Development and the Colorado Department of Agriculture, was launched in February 2013. The value chain research analyzed the full spectrum of agricultural industries in Colorado and revealed new and unexpected collaborations, potential research opportunities, and a broader set of agriculture industry connections. In all, nearly 200 distinct economic activities, sub-sectors and industries were tied to the value chain ranging from retail and wholesale, processing and manufacturing, farm and ranch operations, to agricultural inputs and capital.

The study defines the “value chain of agriculture” as "the flow of inputs and outputs that enable agricultural operations to realize the value of their unique capital base through sales, ultimately, of retail products to final consumers."

The genesis of the Agriculture Value Chain concept originated with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s “Colorado Blueprint” initiative, which identified 14 Key Industry Networks (KINs) within Colorado driving local, regional and state economies. As a result of CSU’s involvement in the initiative, Food and Agriculture was identified as one of the 14 KINs. CSU’s Office of Community and Economic Development was chosen to recruit, convene, and facilitate food and agriculture industry leaders from around Colorado for the initiative.

Six core objectivesKathay Rennels, assistant vice president for Community and Economic Development at CSU presenting during the University Economic Development Association summit.

The “Colorado Blueprint” identified six core economic development objectives that drove the subsequent value chain analysis:

  • Build a business-friendly regulatory environment
  • Recruit, grow, and retain companies
  • Improve access to capital
  • Create and market a stronger “Colorado” brand
  • Educate and train the workforce of the future
  • Cultivate innovation and new technologies

“This project has been successful due to engagement with stakeholders in industry, state government, and the university,” said Kathay Rennels, assistant vice president for the Office of Community and Economic Development at CSU. “And, because of that engagement, the results of this project have begun to change the conversation about agriculture within the state and, in turn, that has begun to generate a range of economic development impacts.”

“This is not a typical supply chain analysis; it reveals a web of connections that touches all of agriculture,” said Greg Graff, associate professor in CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and lead author of the study. “The Value Chain of Colorado agriculture has already generated great industry and state interest, and has stimulated funding for follow-up research on agricultural innovation in Colorado, and leveraging the intergenerational transfer of agricultural wealth to help finance agricultural innovation. The study is also promoting greater collaboration between the CSU and Colorado industry.”