What is MarketPlace

MarketPlace logoMarketPlace is an event focused on energizing small businesses and rural communities. The conference features hands-on learning opportunities for potential and existing business owners including on and off farm/ranch, storefront or home-based; community leaders; and youth interested in entrepreneurship. Businesses and organizations from lots of sectors regularly attend, and each year brings more success and diversity.

MarketPlace topics generally include:

  • Marketing - Unique approaches to help entrepreneurs prosper through innovative marketing (examples: branding and packaging products or services, niche marketing, etc.)
  • Agriculture – Exceptional opportunities available as an agricultural business (examples: agri tourism, direct marketing of local foods, high value products)
  • Financing – Educational tools to increase knowledge (examples: cash is king, financing your business)
  • Community Development – Innovative community offerings to enhance unique entrepreneurial approaches (examples: how's and why's of being an entrepreneurial community, public policy, renewing your community, youth retention/attraction, investment clubs)
  • Social Media – Extraordinary ways to increase business using technology anywhere you live (examples: podcasting, off and online businesses)
  • Business Development – Programs that build business competency levels, create awareness, improve business skills (examples: risk management, legal issues, customer service)
  • Innovation – What's new that will help position rural businesses for success? Don't get swept away by trends, find out the real deal.
  • Youth – Introduce entrepreneurial experiences and concepts encouraging career exploration and opportunities
  • Policy – Learn why policy is important to successful businesses and to successful rural communities.

MarketPlace is important to small business owners. Attendee surveys have shown:

  • 52 percent of small business participants have started, expanded, or made changes to their business because of the conference.
  • Of those who started a business, 43 percent called it a primary business and 57 percent a secondary business.
  • About a third of small business respondents have added jobs since participating in MarketPlace. A total of 14 jobs were added by those respondents (6 part-time, 1 full-time and 7 seasonal jobs), an average job creation rate of 1.4 jobs per business.
  • Nearly 88 percent of small businesses who made changes or expanded their business sought financing to do so. A variety of financing sources were used. Loans from banks, resources from USDA Rural Development, and personal resources (savings and credit cards) were the most popular sources.
  • 79 percent of small business respondents reported using new resources because of their participation in MarketPlace. Of those, 42 percent started to work with other companies as a result of networking at the conference.

MarketPlace is based on a conference that began in North Dakota, and after several successes in Nebraska, we have helped to start MarketPlace events in Colorado, Kansas, and South Dakota.

The Center for Rural Affairs is an Equal Opportunity Providers and Employer.

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