Persistence pays for Iosco county team in securing the 2014 CEC Conference

Iosco county team liked what they saw in Petoskey in 2012 and committed to bringing the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference to the Sunrise Coast.

Sometimes persistence pays, and the ability for a small local team in Iosco county to secure the 2014 Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) conference for the communities of East Tawas and Oscoda is a true example of what can be accomplished when a goal is set and there are no excuses—only solutions!

In 2012, this team attended the CEC Conference in Petoskey, Michigan. The unique format of this conference utilized local merchants as break-out session venues, allowing for additional time between break-out sessions to walk the town. After experiencing the small and intimate sessions which encourage sharing of best practices and the general “realistic” concepts discussed during this conference, this team set its goal to bring a future CEC Conference to Northeastern Lower Michigan. Failure was simply not an option.

An aggressive campaign followed to lobby the Michigan State University Extension organizing team to consider the Sunrise Coast as a viable option. Eventually, after many discussions, the local team sweetened the pot by committing sponsorship dollars, which were not previously solicited strongly. Mark Hitchcock, MSU Extension educator said to the team “We want this event…period! We are serious, our team is ready to go, and we can commit funding to make this happen.”

Needless to say, the Iosco CEC team was awarded the 2014 conference and it was announced at the 2013 CEC Conference in Marshall, Michigan. Delegates from the Iosco Team sponsored the evening Networking Event and invited everyone to the Sunrise Coast for the 2014 conference. In October 2013, the Iosco county CEC team, with nine representatives, made the three hour trek to attend the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference in Marshall, Michigan to not only take in the conference, but also to personally invite participants to join them in 2014.

The local team has been outstanding! Volunteering their time to illustrate the true meaning of what the CEC concept is by building partnerships, involving the community, and collaborating regionally to pull together what is shaping up to be the best CEC conference to date.

Well over 100 participants will be in attendance, from across the great state of Michigan and beyond. This year, a small contingent of Extension Professionals from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will also be in Northeast Michigan taking part, not only as attendees, but as speakers, in this year’s conference…another example of collaborative effort toward building entrepreneurial capacity from the community level and an opportunity to share strategies between multiple states.

Michigan State University Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Workgroup organizes the annual conference, but also explores additional offerings which build from the conference. These value added programs are aimed to help communities understand and embrace the importance of building entrepreneurial commitment and investment from the community level by fostering an “Entrepreneur-friendly” community.

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