Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference successful with added sites

With double the locations, the reach of CEC in 2015 nearly doubled as well. With two great venues, one in the Upper Peninsula communities of Houghton & Hancock and one in Sturgis, the team took CEC ‘Border to Border’ this past October.

Michigan State University Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference organizing team decided to increase the offerings of this conference in 2015 by adding another host community to the mix and offering not one, but two great conferences.

Held in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the first time, the host communities of Houghton and Hancock collaborated to showcase several great venues as well as their communities as a whole. We saw 85 attendees join us from throughout Michigan, as well as friends from Wisconsin. We even had members of the Sturgis team make the over 600 mile trek to participate. This event was held Oct. 7-8, 2015 and trees throughout the U.P. were just hitting their peak colors, so visitors traveling to Houghton and Hancock were witness to one of the many great reasons why we love to call Michigan home.

Fast forward two weeks and the team traveled to the southern border of lower Michigan to the city of Sturgis, which served as host Oc.t. 21-22, 2015. We had 110 attendees from throughout Michigan, as well as friends from Indiana, join us in Sturgis. Similar to the Houghton & Hancock site, there was a small contingent from the U.P. community of Manistique who made the venture to southwest Michigan to take part in this event. For folks who were lucky enough to be involved in both conferences, this was an amazing opportunity to have ventured from one end of Michigan to the other over the course of only a few weeks during a perfect “Pure Michigan” autumn.

The Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference has been held in various Entrepreneurial communities throughout Michigan in a unique format since 2012. Communities are intentionally sought that embody an entrepreneurial supported community, have good walkability, a committed team on the ground to help organize, but also carry on with entrepreneurial efforts long after the conference leaves, and has great unique venues to host the small breakout sessions in. This format embeds the sessions into merchant locations in an intimate setting which serves more as a conversation than a lecture in relation to various topics. This small and informal setting has proven successful to set attendees at ease and truly invigorate the major focus of this annual conference—make connections to share best practices, learn from each other, and grow together to make each of their communities stronger, which makes Michigan stronger and more inviting to entrepreneurial investment as a whole.

Excitement is already in the air for next year’s CEC conference. Port Huron has been awarded as host location for 2016! Traditionally, early-to-mid October is the timeframe that organizers hold this event. Be sure to keep connected to learn more about CEC 2016 by checking out our webpage periodically.

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