Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities

2018 CEC Group Photo

Special thanks to our 2018 host, Hastings, NE, for making this year's CEC Conference a success!!!

Here are a few highlights from the 2018 CEC Conference held in Hastings:

  • Over 90 speakers and attendees with representation from six states and most regions of Nebraska.
  • Attendees spent approximately $9,400 at local food, hotel, and retail businesses over the course of the noon-to-noon event.
  • Conference received positive ratings with 98% indicating they learned something new and nearly 70% indicating that they will do something different as a result of the conference.
  • All respondents to the evaluation said that holding sessions in downtown venues enhanced the conference experience.

Photos from the Hastings conference (click for slideshow):

Michael Small    Anthony May small  Don Macke Small  Mayor Corey Stutte 


2019 and 2020 CEC Conference Host Request for Proposals - Due June 22, 2018

The Nebraska Extension's Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) Conference team is seeking engaged communities to serve as hosts for the 2019 and 2020 conferences to be held in the spring of each year. Conference planners are anticipating hosting the CEC conference in Nebraska's Southeast region in 2019 and Northeast region in 2020.

Nebraska Extension's Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) Conference is a premier conference for those interested in building entrepreneurial communities throughout Nebraska and beyond. Join other like-minded individuals to learn about programs and resources, share best practices and ideas, empower ourselves and others to assist entrepreneurs and grow our local communities.

A committed local team of partners is required for a host community. Do you have a committed local team of partners willing to actively assist with local logistics, sourcing of venues, supplies, equipment, printing, etc., as needed? Roles, responsibilities, and commitments of partners include:

  1. Serving as the local point of contact to secure venue sites
  2. Convening team meetings as needed to ensure local logistics are handled
  3. Assisting with local promotions and encourage local/regional attendance
  4. Securing volunteer assistance as needed
  5. Providing local information for attendees such as maps and brochures
  6. Preparing welcome packets
  7. Recommending enthusiastic local speakers for keynote and select breakout sessions
  8. Providing local information to attendees throughout the conference
  9. Regularly communicate with your local Nebraska Extension CEC point of contact

Key aspects of the conference:

  • The conference is a “Noon to Noon” conference, so many registrants will spend the night at a local hotel or B&B.
  • All general sessions are held in a large venue able to accommodate all participants - most likely 100+ people.
  • All breakout sessions are held in local venues (i.e. restaurants, retail stores, art gallery) with opportunity to meet the business owner.
  • Networking and learning from each other is a key objective. The conference is designed for participants to have enough time between sessions to network and shop.
  • Sessions are designed for participants to learn from each other, gain resources/information to take back to their communities and, as a community team, think differently about how to spur entrepreneurial growth.
  • CEC content provides a holistic look at the entrepreneurial community. Sessions help a community create a sense of place where entrepreneurs want to live as well as build a supportive entrepreneurial culture.

More information, including basic community requirements for host communities is available at: and an electronic application can be found

Only proposals submitted by the deadline will be considered. Deadline for consideration to host the 2019 (Southeast region) or 2020 (Northeast region) CEC Conferences will be no later than 5pm on Friday, June 22, 2018.

For questions, please contact the Nebraska Extension CEC Planning team members, Marilyn Schlake (, 402.472.4138) or Jason Weigle (, 402.768.7212).