The Center for Rural Affairs' MarketPlace Small Business Conference recently celebrated our 7th annual run. Nearly 300 people came to the Nielsen Community Center in West Point, Nebraska for a tremendous experience.
Even after 7 years, rural Nebraskans are as eager as ever to create a better future for their families, farms, ranches, communities and their mainstreet businesses. It's exciting, particularly in the current economy, to see rural entrepreneurs and civic leaders gathering to learn from each other about new ways to overcome challenges and bring their hopes and dreams to fruition.
People came from at least four states - Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. But something bigger than attendance is going on. People from across the rural Midwest are creating connections and sharing what they learn. It fosters entrepreneurship, creates jobs, and develops sustainable economic opportunities in their communities.
West Point native, Dr. Connie Reimers-Hild, a leadership and innovation coach, educator, and author, spoke at the luncheon. Her inspirational keynote "Creative Confidence: Leading Yourself & Your Business" gave participants 10 powerful, yet practical confidence boosters designed to grow their business and improve their life.
Breakout sessions (15 in all) covered marketing, agriculture, financing, community development, social media, business development, innovation, youth, and policy. Fresh approaches to growing the rural economy (jobs, jobs, jobs) gave attendees ideas they can use to improve or expand their small business, farm, ranch, or rural community.
"The knowledge I gained, the support I received, and the connections I made are all priceless in my development as an entrepreneur and student,” said Logan Peters, a freshman at the University of Nebraska. “I hope to take back things I learned at MarketPlace to my community and grow on them with years to come."
Closing keynote speaker, Johnny Schrunk, CEO/Founder of Next Move Marketing, presented “Relationship Marketing: The REAL Marketing Mindset.” Attendees not only walked away with strategies to grow a business quickly and efficiently, but also gained a newfound purpose and vision for positioning their business in the new economy.
Over 20 exhibitors were available throughout the day. Attendees met with experts in numerous fields – attorneys, web designers, etc. – who answered their questions.
“It was a great experience, and I hope I can attend another conference in the future,” said Peters. With community support and anticipation from attendees, 2014 ought to be another great year for MarketPlace. See a short MarketPlace video and learn more about the event.
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