By Andy Hayes, President
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is excited to announce that Charlevoix will be the host community for the annual statewide “Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities” conference October 3-4, 2018. This unique and exciting conference attracts approximately 150 participants from communities throughout Michigan. In recent years, other states began adopting this model and it’s not unusual for a few out-of-state delegates to participate.
In its 11th year, the CEC program is designed to teach communities about tools and resources available to assist in the growth and prosperity of entrepreneurs in their towns. It’s a conference to “train the trainers,” where attendees learn practices to implement back home.
There are several things that make this conference unique and productive.
1. The keynote speakers are local entrepreneurs who tell their story from start-up, to launch, and beyond. Their first-hand experience is powerful with great “lessons learned” for take home.
2. There are typically 25-30 workshop/breakout sessions to participate in on a variety of topics. Sessions are smaller and structured to foster conversation with the expert rather than a lecture.
3. The breakout sessions are “embedded” in the community—held at various businesses throughout town. You may be in a coffee shop for your first session, then move to a brewpub for your next, followed by a design studio, etc. Attendees love it, as you really get to get to know the community’s culture and atmosphere.
4. Ample networking and idea sharing time with other communities. Participants get to share success stories as well as take away practical, successful programs others are implementing.
Charlevoix will be the perfect host city. It’s an exciting community with lots of entrepreneurship activity as well as a local planning team made up of several organizations all working together. People will surely come away refreshed, recharged and ready to help entrepreneurs in their towns.
The planning team for the event is also unique. The state-wide CEC Planning team consists of six MSU Extension Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Educators (Andy Hayes, Mark Thomas, Micah Loucks, Khurram Imam, Diane Smith and Kathy Jamieson). They work closely with the local planning team (Alison Hubbard – Charlevoix Area Chamber, Amanda Wilkin – Charlevoix CVB, Lindsey Dotson – Charlevoix DDA/Main Street, Mark Heydlauff – City of Charlevoix, Maureen Owens – Charlevoix DDA, Main Street and Chamber volunteer, and Hannah Sanderson – Northern Lakes Economic Alliance).
Anyone can attend, however we encourage communities to recruit and attend “as a team.” Typical community teams consist of representatives from the local chamber, government, education, business, economic development, SCORE, SBDC, library, Visitors Bureau, DDA, Main Street, etc. We have found that when several people return home fired up about the ideas learned at the CEC conference it is easier to implement.
For more information, contact the NLEA office 231-582-6482. To add your name to the monthly CEC Newsletter email firstname.lastname@example.org. Like us on Facebook “Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities – CEC Michigan.”