Food + Art: Growing Rural Businesses and Communities - Pender, Neb.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Local foods and the arts are emerging market opportunities for rural communities and businesses owners. This conference focuses on giving small food and arts-based businesses tools they need to be successful and access to resources usually only found at larger conferences in the city.

Who: Aspiring and current food and arts based small business owners, rural community and economic developers 

What: A conference offering technical training and connections to resources for food and arts-based small businesses, and rural community or economic developers wishing to develop local economic opportunities around local foods and the arts.

When: Thursday, Oct. 10, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by an optional post-conference session 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: Pender Community Center, 614 Main St., Pender, Nebraska 68047

Cost: (Registration opens August 1!)

  • $25 early bird pricing, includes lunch and a full day of training sessions. Early bird pricing ends Sept. 15.
  • $40 from Sept. 16 to Oct. 10. 
  • Optional post-conference session: $20, includes dinner and limited to 25 people.
  • Student and group rates are available, contact Sandra to discuss, or 402.687.2100 ext. 1009.

The conference will offer nine breakout sessions on topics of funding, small business basics, food hubs, how to market and sell your art, developing cooperatives, and community development around local foods and the arts.

Free consultation opportunities throughout the conference with Center for Rural Affairs Rural Enterprise Assistance Program (REAP) loan specialists will be available on site.

An optional tour of available retail spaces in the area will be offered, along with live food demos in the exhibition area.

Opening keynote speaker, Michael Fortunato of Creative Insight Community Development, will kick off the conference. Michael consults and specializes in innovative approaches to developing food hubs, business incubation and entrepreneurship, and developing creative community strategies through art and makerspaces.


Two free pre-sessions will be offered on Wednesday, Oct. 9: (Locations TBA)

  • “How to launch a successful art-based business" in Walthill from 9 a.m. to noon
  • “Innovative approaches to developing food hubs for profit” in Winnebago from 1 to 4 p.m.


Exhibition space is available. If you would like to showcase your food or arts based business at this conference, please contact Kristin Walsh at or 402.385.6240


Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) a program of the Center for Rural Affairs

Food + Art: growing rural businesses and communities is funded by a USDA Rural Business Development Grant. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.