NEWS RELEASE: RFI Fellows Present at Community Entrepreneurship Conference in Hastings, Neb.


LINCOLN, Neb. — April 13, 2018 — Four Rural Futures Institute (RFI) Fellows, Don Macke, Kim Wilson, Catherine Lang and Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, presented at Nebraska Extension’s Connecting Entrepreneurial Conference.

The conference, held on Apr. 4 and 5, 2018, in Hastings, Neb., brought communities together to share ideas, programs and resources to empower and assist entrepreneurs to grow communities in Nebraska and beyond through a collection of sessions presented by a highly diverse group of community development leaders from around the state.

“Growing businesses is critical to the future of Nebraska,” said Don Macke, program leader of the Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Initiative.

Macke, an RFI Community Innovation Fellow, hosted a session titled, “Growing Nebraska Businesses – A Nebraska Approach.” In this session, community leaders learned about a new model that is being launched in Nebraska as a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Business Development Centers and Nebraska Extension. The effort utilizes U.S. SourceLink to create systematic change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, while providing complimentary educational programming that leads to an increase in entrepreneurial opportunities and sustainable business enterprises.

University of Nebraska College of Architecture professor and RFI Faculty Fellow Kim Wilson presented a session titled, “Enhancing Quality of Life Through Placemaking.” Participants in this session learned how to strengthen long-term vitality and foster place attachment in rural communities. They were then asked to apply this new knowledge during a walk through of the Hastings downtown during the session.

RFI Community Innovation Fellow Catherine Lang, J.D., state director of the Nebraska Business Development Center at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, joined three other community development leaders to present the Thursday opening session keynote titled, “Introducing the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Initiative.” Attendees learned about solutions to business development resource challenges for entrepreneurs, rural communities and service providers.

Nebraska Extension Community Vitality Specialist and RFI Faculty Fellow, Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, Ph.D., was one of two Extension educators to present the session titled, “Building on Your Community Strengths: Community Vitality Initiative Resources.” In this session, community development leaders and resource providers learned about the variety of programs and resources available statewide to assist communities in designing their future.