e-NC, seeking to fulfill its goal to foster use of the Internet across all sectors of North Carolina, has granted $326,350 for agribusiness projects across the state.

Among projects receiving funding are the Agribusiness Center at Mt. Olive College, Blue Ridge Web Market, Madison Farms and TeamNC.

“Agribusiness is an important component of this state’s economy and moving it online helps to keep the industry visible and viable,” said James Leutze, chairman of the Rural Internet Access Authority (RIAA, soon to be called the e-NC Authority). “Supporting these projects means supporting rural North Carolinians.”

e-NC awarded Mt. Olive College $125,000 for its Agribusiness Center to create a computer training program for farmers and a website of resources for consumers and agribusinesses in rural Eastern N.C. communities called the Coastal Plains Virtual Farmers Market.

The center provides opportunities for technology transfer and educational resources to all levels of agricultural business; undergraduate education programs in agribusiness management and environmental science and policy; and public forums, conferences and workshops to facilitate dialogue on issues affecting all stakeholders in the state’s agribusiness community.

In the western part of the state, the Blue Ridge Web Market received a $15,000 grant. The market is a pilot economic development project for Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.

This online public market is a showcase of goods and services from small businesses and microenterprises in Western N.C. The market is hosted and operated by the Mountain Area Information Network, which currently is helping merchants upgrade and expand the site.

e-NC also supports Madison Farms, a website that provides information about Madison County to consumers and tourists, through a $61,350 grant. For consumers, the site gives information on area farmers and the goods they sell, including opportunities to tour farms, choose and cut Christmas trees, and pick berries. For farmers, the site offers information on computer classes and other agribusiness resources.

e-NC also granted $125,000 to help start TeamNC, a Web-based regional business database that matches customers with suppliers. The Internet business information portal provides business opportunities gathered from commercial, government and academic sources, along with an automated matching service that matches opportunities to member-company profiles.

RIAA: www.enc.org

Virtual Farmers Market: www.virtualfarmersmarket.com

Blue Ridge Web Market: www.brwm.org

Madison Farms: www.madisonfarms.org

TeamNC: www.teamnc.com