Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Team receives the Gordon Guyer Collaborative Programming Award

The Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Team received the Gordon Guyer Collaborative Programming Award from MSU Extension during the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 29.

The Gordon Guyer Award honors cross-institute teams that conduct high-quality, collaborative programming.

The Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) team facilitates the strengthening of entrepreneurial ecosystems via an annual statewide conference. The CEC Conference, as delivered by the CEC Team, is a scholarly example of evidence-based programming rooted in multi-institute collaboration.

The members of the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Team are: Andrew Hayes, Katherine Jamieson, Parker B. Jones, Diane Longanbach, C. Andrew Northrop, Mary Reilly and David S. Rowley.

Launched in response to the 2008 Great Recession, the CEC Conference has been spearheaded by a multi-institute collaboration including MSU Extension career exploration and workforce preparation educators, MSU Extension government and community vitality educators, and MSU Product Center counselors, as well as a direct partnership with each host community. This collaborative approach helps mobilize MSU Extension’s evidence-based programming to strengthen entrepreneurship targeted at diverse stakeholders. To highlight local host community successes, CEC is held in thriving downtowns where participants learn firsthand from business owners, guest speakers, and MSU Extension presenters. After the noon-to-noon conference, participants depart with an actionable toolkit to strengthen their own entrepreneurial ecosystem. To date, 10 Michigan communities have hosted the CEC Conference.

In 2019, 100% of the 100 attendees agreed the content presented was replicable and that new connections made at CEC could help them bring these practices to their home community.

As an example of a community replicating a program, the City of Alma attended CEC 2019 and learned how a Michigan community’s library created a hot spot rental program to increase student internet access. In December 2019, Alma implemented a similar program. Within months, their program would become the solution to keeping students connected during the pandemic that forced education into home-school environments. Alma credits this success to the collaborative environment cultivated at the CEC Conference.

The success of CEC has spawned additional synergies. For example, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation sponsored the 2019 conference by pledging $5,000 and delivering educational programs to support entrepreneurship. Additionally, beginning in 2014, the CEC Conference model has been adopted by Extension services in seven states via multi-state Rural Development Center grants.

The Gordon Guyer Award was created in 2014 to honor teams that conduct high-quality, collaborative programming that contributes to the mission of MSU Extension, has been developed through a process of issue and opportunity identification and clientele needs analysis, and has had demonstrably positive effects on programming outcomes.

It is named for former MSU Extension Director Gordon Guyer. During his tenure, Dr. Guyer encouraged MSU Extension staff at all levels to develop evidence- and research-based, collaborative, and interdisciplinary programs to meet the needs of Michigan residents.  Read more about Dr. Guyer’s contributions here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Guyer.

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