CEC Conference helps communities grow entrepreneurs

The state-wide “Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities” conference helps communities learn how to support and grow entrepreneurs in their towns.

Michigan State University Extension, in collaboration with the Microenterprise Network of Michigan (MNM) invite community leaders and stakeholders to share successes, invest in ideas and empower entrepreneurs at the annual MSU Extension “Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities” (CEC) Conference.

Each year, the conference provides participants with tips and tools, best practices and success stories for fostering entrepreneurship. With break-out sessions embedded in shops and venues throughout the hosting downtown, the conference offers the unique opportunity to not only learn about, but experience an entrepreneurial community. The entire focus is to teach community teams how to be more entrepreneurial friendly and provide tips and tools to support entrepreneurial growth in their community.

“Michigan State University Extension created the state-wide CEC program several years ago, however in recent years the program had evolved into an intense support program for a small group of communities. With the re-introduction of the state-wide conference approach, we feel we can provide information and resources to a much greater number of Michigan communities…thus having a bigger impact throughout the state in helping entrepreneurs grow and succeed,” says Andy Hayes, President of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and a MSU Extension Economic Development Educator, and CEC Conference Planning Committee Chair.

Last year's CEC Conference in Petoskey, Michigan, brought together over 130 delegates from 35 different communities across the state to work toward making Michigan more friendly and supportive for entrepreneurs.

This year's CEC conference (October 3-4, in Marshall, Michigan) will follow the successful format developed in Petoskey which actually embedded the conference in the downtown. Conference break-out sessions will be held in business location throughout the downtown, all within walking distance and will share innovative strategies, tools and resources to help participants develop community enterprises, create an attractive and connected entrepreneurial culture, and boost entrepreneurial success.

Communities throughout Michigan are encouraged to bring a community team of local leaders, organizations, businesses, and stakeholders to generate excitement and support in bringing strategies back to their area. This year’s goal is 200 delegates from 50+ communities.

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