Gregg Christensen, Entrepreneurship Education leader with NETForce and Entrepreneurship Specialist for the Nebraska Department of Education, is passionate about entrepreneurship. NETForce (the Nebraska Entrepreneurship Task Force) is devoted to spreading the word about the importance of entrepreneurship to business growth and the development of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state. The Community Vitality Initiative (CVI), a part of Nebraska Extension, focuses on community development and collaborates with partners like NETForce to support entrepreneurship in the state. The annual Best Practices Summit is one result of this collaborative effort between CVI, NETForce participants, planning partners and sponsors.
The summit brings together educators, economic and community developers, policy makers and other interested in supporting and growing Nebraska’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Connecting these leaders to each other is key to sharing best practices for supporting entrepreneurs and ecosystem development in the state.
“One of our best partners from the very beginning was Nebraska Extension. And they have just been dynamite to work with. The University system across the state (UNK, UNL, UNO) has been tremendous to work with,” says Christensen.
Christensen also believes that no community is too small to build an entrepreneurial spirit. The neighboring Nebraska communities of Cody and Kilgore are a prime example of this. Students there wanted to feel a sense of community. With some strategic planning, the Circle C Market was born, a convenience store operated by the students. “This teaches the young people the career readiness skills they need,” commented Christensen. “What problem are you trying to solve, identify that problem and reach out to stakeholders. Build a team around you.”
Collaboration is the Key
Partners like CVI and NETForce are integral to helping communities thrive. By leveraging a teamwork approach, more resources are available to help communities build their entrepreneurial ecosystems for long-term prosperity. For more on Nebraska Extension’s CVI partnerships and how they help communities, visit communityvitality.unl.edu.