MarketPlace 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.