Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities 2023 - Valentine

CEC 2023 | Valentine, Nebraska

people + places + economy = prosperity

June 8th & 9th

The CEC Conference is an opportunity to educate community members on the various tools and resources available to assist them in helping entrepreneurs grow and prosper in their communities. Local, regional, and national presenters share how they found success in building their entrepreneurial ecosystems.

No boring meeting rooms here! CEC sessions are held in area businesses. As a participant, you get the full experience of the downtown area as you move from session to session. This creative approach has proven enjoyable and offers plenty of opportunity for networking and seeing firsthand an entrepreneurial community at work.

Registration is only $80, and includes lunch Thursday, heavy hors d'oeuvres Thursday evening, and lunch on Friday. Please note that this registration price ends May 26! After that date, it will be $100, so get your registration in early.

Unfortunately, our room block at the Comfort Inn is sold out as of 5/2/23, but look here to find another hotel in the area: https://visitvalentine.org/stay/ 

See below for details on our 2023 conference.

Map: https://go.unl.edu/cec2023map 

Please use #CECValentine on your social media!


Thursday, June 8, 2023

11:00 am
Registration & Lunch

Lunch served until 11:45 am

Sandwiches from Old Mill

Location: City Hall, 323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201

 

11:45 am
Welcome & Opening Keynote

Location: City Hall, 323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201

Valentine is Rolling Out the Red Carpet

Speaker(s):
Kyle Arganbright,
Mayor of Valentine
Bio

Kyle Arganbright is the Executive Vice President and co-founder of Sandhills State Bank, and a co-founder of Bolo Beer Co. brewery.

Arganbright graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was student body president and a student regent. He returned home to Valentine, Nebraska to launch a local bank, and was elected to the Valentine City Council, currently serving as mayor.

Conference Group Photo

Location: TBD

1:30 pm
Breakout Session I

Location: Local Area Businesses

Building Community Entrepreneurship Capacity with eCommunity Programming and eCoaches

Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the process of developing an entrepreneurial community.
Learn how eCoaches, Economic Development leaders, and Entrepreneurs from Ord, Grand Island, and Valentine work together to support their business communities.
Ask questions about how their communities support small business development and how this could benefit yours.

Location: Valentine Public Library (324 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Shawn Kaskie,
Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska
Bio

Community Economic Development and Leadership facilitator, coach, and researcher who is passionate about leveraging University and partner resources to help small communities, businesses, and stakeholders achieve their visions.

Becky Ries,
Executive Director, Valley County Economic Development
Bio

I was born and raised in Nebraska and have lived in beautiful Valley County since 1997. I fell in love with the area the first time I visited, and my passion for this region has continued to grow.  We live in a unique and supportive community that is full of amazing, hard-working people.  I love meeting new people, as well as connecting with those I’ve known for years. 

I consider it an honor to be part of an organization that is here to assist people and businesses in any way we can.  Whether moving to this community, starting a new business, bringing in resources, or looking to get involved…we are here and ready to help.   

In my opinion, Valley County is the heart of the Good Life, and I believe it is an exceptional best place to call home, raise a family, retire, explore, invest, and grow a business.  The opportunities are endless, the support is outstanding, and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to help assist Valley County as we continue to grow and expand.  

Caleb Pollard,
Sandhills eCoach & Entrepreneur
Bio

Caleb Pollard is owner/operator at Scratchtown Brewing Company with his three business partners in Ord, Nebraska. Starting in 2012, and opening their doors in 2013, Scratchtown has been dedicated to a dual purpose: brewing world class beer in rural Nebraska and catalyzing positive change through investment and business activity. Caleb calls this 'positive transformation through fermentation'.

Since 2013, Scratchtown has won numerous accolades and awards for their beer quality, put Ord USA on the map, and built a community mainstay that acts as both a hub for fun and fermentation. With his team, they have demonstrated that world class, small business operations can exist in rural America and make a real difference on the economic trajectory of rural communities.

Since July 2022, Caleb begun part-time contract work with UNL Extension serving as an entrepreneur and business coach in the Nebraska Sandhills. Caleb serves this role in Valley, Cherry and Custer counties.

Caleb lives in Ord with his wife of 20 years, Christina, and his youngest son Elijah (15). Caleb's oldest son Calen is a freshman biosystem engineering major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In his free time, Caleb enjoys gardening and tending to his small orchard, small scale fermentation farming, hunting, fishing, kayaking and long walks on the Calamus beach.

Teliza Rodriguez,
Central NE eCoach
Bio

Teliza V. Rodriguez is an arts administrator/curator, artist advocate, entrepreneur, and eCoach for Rural Prosperity Nebraska who has worked in the Midwest arts arena for over 20 years. She has served as the Director of the Haydon Gallery in Lincoln, NE; Curator of the Museum of Nebraska Art, worked with the Nebraska Arts Council, the Lux Center for Art, Hastings College, as well as other academic and non-profit organizations, and is a Fellow for the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In her capacity as eCoach for UNL/RPN she works with entrepreneurs and small businesses in Adams and Hall counties. Rodriguez lives in the tri-city area with her family, is an avid gardener and outdoor-lover. She is dedicated to the preservation of rural communities and finding ways to merge art and all things agrarian to create positive economic impacts. 

Greg Nollette,
Co-owner and Vintner, Niobrara Valley Vineyards
Bio

Greg Nollette is a fifth generation descendent of the founder of the little town of Nenzel. He and his wife have 4 daughters and 12 grandchildren. He is a retired agricultural education instructor and taught in Cherry County for several years. Greg is co-owner and vintner of Niobrara Valley Vineyards and Winery south of Nenzel, NE. Niobrara Valley Vineyards is a farm winery which grows eleven different varieties of grapes and makes fifteen different wines. The wines are hand crafted from the vine to the glass. Wine is offered for sale in over 50 different retail outlets in the state of NE and through Vino Shipper in 38 states.

Reed Ford,
Vineyard Manager, Niobrara Valley Vineyards
Bio

Reed Ford is the Vineyard Manager at Niobrara Valley Vineyards. He began as a part-time viticulturist in 2016 and transitioned to full time in 2020. Reed's role consists of care and management of the vineyard, apprenticing as vintner, communications,  customer relations, as well as delivering to retail outlets and stores. In addition, he is responsible for attending wine tasting events across the state, educating future customers about Niobrara Valley Winery products.

Reed graduated from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD in 2010, with a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Education and a passion for ensuring people connect with, learn about and appreciate the environment. This passion began on his parents cattle ranch located south of Cody along the Niobrara River. Reed attended Cody-Kilgore Unified School from K-12 and has deep roots in this rural, agricultural community.

Creating a Niche Tourism Market in Your Community, Part I: Places to Play

Where better to catch a world class game of golf or take in the exhilaration of a high stakes hand of poker than against the backdrop of the unique geological and ecological landscape of the Nebraska Sandhills. Learn how local entrepreneurs have created one-of-a-kind attractions in one-of-a-kind location while creating a niche and networked tourism market while helping grow and sustain the local and regional economy.

Location: Broken Spoke Boutique (205 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Markus Potter,
Marketing Director, Rosebud Casino
Jacob Fuehrer,
Director of Golf, Frederick Peak Golf Club
Nebraska's Strategic Housing Framework

Stop in any community from Cody to Cambridge or Harrison to Homer, and the limited stock of available, affordable, and livable housing will likely be noted among the priority needs of the community. Join this session to learn more about how partners from NIFA, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and partners across the state have come together to develop strategies and outline the way forward for housing in Nebraska.

Location: Sandhills Art & Metal Gallery (265 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Shannon Harner,
Executive Director, Nebraska Investment Finance Authority
Bio

Shannon R. Harner is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, also known as NIFA. She has worked in the real estate industry for thirty years in a variety of roles, first as an attorney in private practice, specializing in real estate law and creditors rights. She returned to private practice after a brief sabbatical at a start-up in Hong Kong and moved in-house as general counsel for a subsidiary of HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, where she specialized in legal issues surrounding mortgage, title, insurance and brokerage operations. In 2013, she transitioned to the business side and served as General Manager and then CEO of HomeServices of Nebraska, prior to taking the helm at NIFA in August of 2020. Shannon is active in her community and serves on several boards and organizations, including the Board and Executive Committee of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, and the Bryan Health System Board and its subsidiary, Bryan Medical Center. She is an honorary Board member and past Board chair of the Nebraska Community Foundation, and has served on the Boards of Nebraska Humanities, TedxLincoln, the Lincoln Arts Council and a variety of other community organizations. Shannon holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Shannon and her husband both grew up in Imperial, Nebraska. They have two daughters, a cat, and a couple of chickens. In her spare time, she loves to travel, read, cook, and engage in lively conversation.

Business Transition is Economic Development!

Economic Development and Business Transition go hand in hand. Losing a store instead of transitioning a store is an economic development loss. Let's talk business transitions!

Location: Price's Gallery & Framing (213 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Jason Tuller,
Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska
Bio

Jason has been working in the economic development field in rural Nebraska for more than a decade. He has worked as a small business consultant and as a rural economic developer. His goal now is to help grow stronger communities in Southeast Nebraska and throughout the state.

Placemaking and Childcare Facilities

Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) is a collaboration between National Wildlife Federation and UNL. We facilitate the creation of nature-based outdoor play settings; provide support and resources for parents, caregivers, and educators to activate these spaces; and advocate for policies to transform outdoor play and learning best practice into common practice. All of ECHO’s work includes a tailored, community-driven process designed to complement local efforts and bring the vision of all stakeholders to life.

Location: Sandhills State Bank (132 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Katie Krause,
Extension Educator, Early Childhood
Bio

 Katie specializes in the areas of early childhood professional development, nature and environmental education and science education for young children.

3:00 pm
Breakout Session II

Location: Local Area Businesses

Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP): Case Study of Atkinson and Gibbon

The Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process (ECAP), a program of Nebraska Extension, has been utilized by communities across the state to identify priorities and develop action plans surrounding eight entrepreneurial characteristics. In many of these communities the term entrepreneurial has grown to mean much more than business development, to shifting the way they look at opportunities and solutions. Join representatives from Atkinson and Gibbon as they share how they have leveraged ECAP in their communities.

Location: Sandhills State Bank (132 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Jordan Rasmussen,
Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska
Bio

Jordan works alongside current and prospective leaders, residents and youth, listening to what they envision and seek to define for the future of their community. She helps communities achieve these goals by assisting them in developing action plans and outcomes based programs, resource identification and community coaching. Her efforts focus upon local leadership development, resident attraction and building welcoming and inclusive communities.

Bob Krier,
Community Engagement Manager, Hamilton Telecommunications
Bio

Bob Krier is Hamilton Telecommunications Community Engagement Manager based in Gibbon, Nebraska. Bob began his telecom career in 1998 as an Internet Support Technician with Nebraska Central Telephone Company. After a brief stint with Frontier Communications in Kearney, Bob returned to NCTC as the Marketing and Community Relations Manager. When NCTC was purchased by Hamilton Telecommunications in 2021 he was allowed to focus on working with 20 communities throughout Central Nebraska. As a City Councilman and Chamber Board member, Bob brings his experience of spearheading Gibbon’s ongoing ECAP process in the winter of 2023 to CEC.

Bob lives in Gibbon and is the proud parent of two adult children, Connor and Carmen.

Amanda Sindelar,
Economic Development Director, City of Atkinson
Bio

Sindelar grew up about 10 miles southwest of Stuart on a ranch where her parents, Dan and Joan Greger still live. The homestead has been in the Greger family for more than 100 years. She graduated from West Holt High School in Atkinson in 1997 and earned an associate degree in journalism from Northeast Community College in Norfolk in 1999.

She has worked as a copy editor and reporter for the Norfolk Daily News and the Grand Island Independent before becoming the editor of the Coolidge Examiner in Coolidge, AZ. Sindelar moved from Arizona back to her hometown of Atkinson with her two children in 2009. Shortly after that she was hired as the editor of the Holt County Independent in O’Neill.

After nearly 20 years working as a journalist, Sindelar was hired in 2019 as the Atkinson Economic Development Director.

Her family includes her husband, Don Sindelar, co-owner of Green Valley Irrigation in Atkinson, their combined five children and four grandchildren, with number five arriving in June. Sindelar is a member of the Atkinson Community Foundation Fund advisory committee, Atkinson Children and Families Coalition core team, and Atkinson/Holt County C4K.

Creating a Niche Tourism Market in Your Community, Part II: Taking in the Great Outdoors

If niche market tourism’s goal is to create an experience, why not showcase an outdoor and natural experience that will take a visitor’s breath away. From gazing at the stars in some of the nation’s darkest skies, to hunting in the pristine Sandhills or floating down the scenic Niobrara River, Valentine area entrepreneurs have capitalized upon the region’s natural beauty to build a destination and businesses. Learn from their experiences and explore how you can begin to develop a niche tourism market in your region.

Location: Price's Gallery & Framing (213 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201) 

Speaker(s):
Jenna Bartja,
Adventure Travel Specialist, Nebraska Tourism Commission
Rich Mercure,
Little Outlaw Canoe
Carl Simmons,
Golden Prairie Bison
Local Food Entrepreneurship Networks from South Dakota

Building networks is important to learn from each other. One example is the South Dakota Specialty Producer Association that resources for specialty producers. SDSPA is a nonprofit comprised of a diverse, geographically dispersed group of specialty producers in the state. The organization, founded in 2001, represents non-commodity products that include fruits and vegetables, specialty meats and grains, wine and beer, organic products, honey, agritourism businesses and more>.

Location: Sandhills Art & Metal Gallery (265 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Laura Kahler,
South Dakota Specialty Producers Association
Bio

Laura Kahler is a contractor with South Dakota Specialty Producers Association, and works to help producers connect with each other, and consumers. Through this role, she has been a part of various efforts to support Local Food producers & retailers, including the SD Local Foods Coalition, Farm to School Network, and projects funded through Specialty Crop Block Grants and a NRCS Cooperative Agreement.  

Working Together to Bring a Grocery Store to Your Community

Lynch, Nebraska was without a grocery store for two years. The community banded together to form a cooperative. Learn about the process and community involvement to form a cooperative grocery store. Will this model work in your community for a grocery store or another business transition?

Location: Broken Spoke Boutique (205 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Valley Foods Cooperative Steering Team Members,
Bio

Valley Foods Cooperative Board members (Paul Fischer, David Barnes, Martha Nelson, Jabe Fischer, Mauri Micanek and Janie Fischer) worked together to form the Valley Foods Cooperative Grocery Store. Each brought unique skill sets including banking, accounting, small business ownership and experience in connecting and bringing the community together.

So You Want to Start a Creative District?

Learn about the process to apply for Creative District certification through the Nebraska Arts Council, the benefits of being a certified Creative District, and best practices from communities already certified or working through the process.

Location: Valentine Public Library (324 Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Rachel Morgan,
Program Specialist, Nebraska Arts Council
Bio

Rachel Morgan oversees the Mini, Annual Series & Events and Basic Support grants, as well as the Creative District Program. Previously, she worked as the Foundation & Public Relations Director at Holdrege Memorial Homes in Holdrege, Nebraska, and helped build a new library at the facility. She was also Executive Director of the Tassel Performing Arts Center for many years and worked with a multitude of amazing artists, teachers and community members. She was a member of the Holdrege Rotary Club and served as the club’s secretary. Rachel also served as a volunteer at the Holdrege YMCA and taught a variety of classes during her time there.

She received her BS in music education at Peru State College. She and her husband, Jeff, reside in Blair with their three children.

4:30 pm
Breakout Session III

Location: Local Area Businesses

Transfer of Leadership in Rural Communities

The United States is poised to experience its largest transfers of leadership (56% of management occupations) in its history. Preparing rural community leadership for these transitions will be critical. This presentation will review new research results in rural community leadership transfer, offering several important considerations for Nebraska’s leadership pipeline.  

Location: Valentine Public Library (324 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Dr. Lindsay Hastings,
Education & Communications Professor, UNL Department of Ag Leadership
Bio

Dr. Lindsay Hastings serves as the Clifton Professor in Mentoring Research and Research Director for NHRI Leadership Mentoring at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership theory and leadership development, and her research centers around advancing scholar and practitioner knowledge in leadership mentoring, community leadership development, and youth leadership.  Dr. Hastings is a resident of Seward, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Lilly and Anna.

Does Your Community Make a Good First Impression?

In this jam-packed interactive session, we will discuss ‘First Impressions’, why they are important, and key attributes. First impressions affect tourism, new resident recruitment, and even potential employers. What first impression does your community make? Does that first impression vary between your internet presence, tourist presence, event presence, and resident presence? Learn about new programs from UNL Extension that can measure these various platforms and how you can improve your community’s first impressions! 

Location: Sandhills Art & Metal Gallery (265 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Dr. Kristin Malek,
Assistant Professor, Event Management Extension Specialist
Bio

Dr. Kristin Malek, or Dr. K as she is known by her students, has over ten years in hospitality and event management experience. She began her career in the restaurant industry where she developed a love for hospitality. After moving quickly into an assistant store manager role, she switched over to retail and then eventually into hotels.

While working for an architectural engineering firm as a designer, she was put in charge of planning all of the office trainings and company social events. She quickly realized her love of event planning and decided to go back to school. After completing internships and contract work in event management, she went on to receive her Master’s Degree in International Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of South Carolina and her PhD in Hospitality Administration from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Dr. K served as the Executive Director of Events for a third-party planning company in Las Vegas where she was in charge of the medical association meeting market. In this role she managed association events greater than one million dollars and led a team of staff and interns.

She was recognized by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as a Hospitality Hero during National Travel and Tourism week for both 2014 and 2015, by Meetings Today Magazine as a Top 20 Meetings Industry Trendsetter for 2016, served as the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) faculty chair for 2017 and 2018, and was recognized as an Emerging Leader of the Year for PCMA Heartland Chapter in 2018. She has achieved designations as a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Digital Event Strategist (DES), and Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE). 

Jason Tuller,
Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska
Bio

Jason has been working in the economic development field in rural Nebraska for more than a decade. He has worked as a small business consultant and as a rural economic developer. His goal now is to help grow stronger communities in Southeast Nebraska and throughout the state.

A "Carrot and Stick" Approach to Downtown Revitalization

Learn how Valley County Economic Development leaders are developing a “stick and carrot” approach to make more down commercial property viable for start-up and expansion. First, “the carrot”, create a matching fund for existing downtown building owners with dilapidated property to apply for renovation grants using a mix of public/grant and private sources of funds. Second, “the stick”, learn best practices to update and enforce building code ordinances. Learn how to modify and model this program in in your community. 

Location: Price's Gallery & Framing (213 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Becky Ries,
Executive Director, Valley County Economic Development
Bio

I was born and raised in Nebraska and have lived in beautiful Valley County since 1997. I fell in love with the area the first time I visited, and my passion for this region has continued to grow.  We live in a unique and supportive community that is full of amazing, hard-working people.  I love meeting new people, as well as connecting with those I’ve known for years. 

I consider it an honor to be part of an organization that is here to assist people and businesses in any way we can.  Whether moving to this community, starting a new business, bringing in resources, or looking to get involved…we are here and ready to help.   

In my opinion, Valley County is the heart of the Good Life, and I believe it is an exceptional best place to call home, raise a family, retire, explore, invest, and grow a business.  The opportunities are endless, the support is outstanding, and I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to help assist Valley County as we continue to grow and expand.  

Caleb Pollard,
Sandhills eCoach & Entrepreneur
Bio

Caleb Pollard is owner/operator at Scratchtown Brewing Company with his three business partners in Ord, Nebraska. Starting in 2012, and opening their doors in 2013, Scratchtown has been dedicated to a dual purpose: brewing world class beer in rural Nebraska and catalyzing positive change through investment and business activity. Caleb calls this 'positive transformation through fermentation'.

Since 2013, Scratchtown has won numerous accolades and awards for their beer quality, put Ord USA on the map, and built a community mainstay that acts as both a hub for fun and fermentation. With his team, they have demonstrated that world class, small business operations can exist in rural America and make a real difference on the economic trajectory of rural communities.

Since July 2022, Caleb begun part-time contract work with UNL Extension serving as an entrepreneur and business coach in the Nebraska Sandhills. Caleb serves this role in Valley, Cherry and Custer counties.

Caleb lives in Ord with his wife of 20 years, Christina, and his youngest son Elijah (15). Caleb's oldest son Calen is a freshman biosystem engineering major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In his free time, Caleb enjoys gardening and tending to his small orchard, small scale fermentation farming, hunting, fishing, kayaking and long walks on the Calamus beach.

Store Front to On-Line: the Bombshell Salon Example - CANCELLED

Please note this session has been cancelled.

Valentine Street Project: Walking Tour

Placemaking can restore or enhance community assets that support a high quality of life. As rural community’s economies, environments, and demographics continue to change and evolve, developing locally driven solutions to these challenges is critical to the long-term vitality. By bringing in new ideas, businesses, amenities, and social spaces, rural towns can help foster place attachment and encourage young people to stay in or return to their communities. Learn criteria that you use in your community to strengthen place and quality of life. Put your new knowledge to use as you walk through the Valentine downtown during this session.

Location: City Hall (323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Kim Wilson,
Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
6:00 pm
Networking - Hosted by Nebraska Tech Collaborative

Location: Bolo Beer Co., 420 E 1st St, Valentine, NE 69201

Visit with fellow attendees over a brew and appetizers from Hoebe's Smoke 'N Meats.

If you need more than the heavy hors d'oeuvres offered, please visit the excellent restaurants in the area - see Valentine Visitor Guide for options.

Friday, June 9, 2023

7:30 am
Breakfast on your own

Eat at your hotel or check out a local cafe: Valentine Visitor Guide

 

8:00 am
Coffee & Rolls at Coachlight Cafe

Network with fellow attendees!

Location: 302 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201

8:30 am
Keynote

Location: City Hall, 323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201

How to Create an Ecosystem to Support Homegrown, Sustainable, Scalable Business Ventures

Learn about the culture of Nebraska entrepreneurs, types of financing available to businesses and when to plug in these different financing sources, why Proven Ventures was launched, and how your community can take the next step to building more homegrown, sustainable and scalable businesses.

Speaker(s):
Erica Wassinger,
Proven Ventures
Bio

Erica is a go‐to investor for new companies as they pursue growth in Nebraska. Her entrepreneurial insights are published monthly in the Omaha World-Herald and have been quoted in publications like Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and NPR.  

 Erica has worked with hundreds of founders, helping them find product-market fit and execute growth strategies.

 She has a Journalism degree from Kansas State University, a Wharton Executive MBA certificate in venture capital, and University of California Berkeley venture capital certificate. 

9:15 am
Breakout Session IV

Location: Local Area Businesses

Energizing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (E3)

A statewide initiative known as Energizing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems continues to strengthen six Greater Nebraska hometowns. Learn some of the strategies these communities are using to build support for small businesses.

Location: City Hall (323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
K.C. Belitz,
Chief Operating Officer, Nebraska Community Foundation
Alisha Juelfs,
Entrepreneurial Navigator, Cheyenne County E3
Mary Pierce,
Mid Plains Community College and Keith County E3
Caleb Pollard,
Sandhills eCoach & Entrepreneur
Bio

Caleb Pollard is owner/operator at Scratchtown Brewing Company with his three business partners in Ord, Nebraska. Starting in 2012, and opening their doors in 2013, Scratchtown has been dedicated to a dual purpose: brewing world class beer in rural Nebraska and catalyzing positive change through investment and business activity. Caleb calls this 'positive transformation through fermentation'.

Since 2013, Scratchtown has won numerous accolades and awards for their beer quality, put Ord USA on the map, and built a community mainstay that acts as both a hub for fun and fermentation. With his team, they have demonstrated that world class, small business operations can exist in rural America and make a real difference on the economic trajectory of rural communities.

Since July 2022, Caleb begun part-time contract work with UNL Extension serving as an entrepreneur and business coach in the Nebraska Sandhills. Caleb serves this role in Valley, Cherry and Custer counties.

Caleb lives in Ord with his wife of 20 years, Christina, and his youngest son Elijah (15). Caleb's oldest son Calen is a freshman biosystem engineering major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In his free time, Caleb enjoys gardening and tending to his small orchard, small scale fermentation farming, hunting, fishing, kayaking and long walks on the Calamus beach.

Amanda Sindelar,
Economic Development Director, City of Atkinson
Bio

Sindelar grew up about 10 miles southwest of Stuart on a ranch where her parents, Dan and Joan Greger still live. The homestead has been in the Greger family for more than 100 years. She graduated from West Holt High School in Atkinson in 1997 and earned an associate degree in journalism from Northeast Community College in Norfolk in 1999.

She has worked as a copy editor and reporter for the Norfolk Daily News and the Grand Island Independent before becoming the editor of the Coolidge Examiner in Coolidge, AZ. Sindelar moved from Arizona back to her hometown of Atkinson with her two children in 2009. Shortly after that she was hired as the editor of the Holt County Independent in O’Neill.

After nearly 20 years working as a journalist, Sindelar was hired in 2019 as the Atkinson Economic Development Director.

Her family includes her husband, Don Sindelar, co-owner of Green Valley Irrigation in Atkinson, their combined five children and four grandchildren, with number five arriving in June. Sindelar is a member of the Atkinson Community Foundation Fund advisory committee, Atkinson Children and Families Coalition core team, and Atkinson/Holt County C4K.

Entrepreneurship of Food and Beverage Tourism

How far would you drive for a prairie fed bison steak or a beer brewed with water from the Ogallala Aquifer? Or maybe you need to visit one more winery to complete your wine passport. Food and beverage tourism attracts visitors from across the Midwest to the Sandhills, providing opportunities for this panel of entrepreneurs to grow and develop unique food and beverage ventures that complement the solitude and splendor of the region.

Location: Broken Spoke Boutique (205 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
George Johnson,
George Paul Vinegar
Carl Simmons,
Golden Prairie Bison
Greg Nollette,
Co-owner and Vintner, Niobrara Valley Vineyards
Bio

Greg Nollette is a fifth generation descendent of the founder of the little town of Nenzel. He and his wife have 4 daughters and 12 grandchildren. He is a retired agricultural education instructor and taught in Cherry County for several years. Greg is co-owner and vintner of Niobrara Valley Vineyards and Winery south of Nenzel, NE. Niobrara Valley Vineyards is a farm winery which grows eleven different varieties of grapes and makes fifteen different wines. The wines are hand crafted from the vine to the glass. Wine is offered for sale in over 50 different retail outlets in the state of NE and through Vino Shipper in 38 states.

Kyle Arganbright,
Mayor of Valentine
Bio

Kyle Arganbright is the Executive Vice President and co-founder of Sandhills State Bank, and a co-founder of Bolo Beer Co. brewery.

Arganbright graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was student body president and a student regent. He returned home to Valentine, Nebraska to launch a local bank, and was elected to the Valentine City Council, currently serving as mayor.

Engaging Communities Through Marketing Hometown America: White River, South Dakota Example

Marketing Hometown America is a nationwide educational program developed in Nebraska and South Dakota focused on recruiting and retaining new residents. It engages communities through small groups, called study circles, to get more people involved and more voices heard. The process has had significant impact. Attendees will hear from the community of White River that has utilized the program to develop action plans for the future.

Location: Valentine Public Library (324 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Kari O'Neill,
Community Vitality Program Manager, South Dakota State University Extension
Bio

A native South Dakotan, Kari O’Neill was born and raised on a farm/ranch west of Faulkton. Her family raised Polled Hereford seed stock and was very active in 4-H.

Kari has a B.S. in Family & Consumer Science and a MEd in Education. She spent ten years as a 4- H/Youth Development educator with the University of MN Extension Service in Pipestone County, where she focused on youth leadership, consumer education, and team building.

Kari has been with South Dakota State University Extension since 2002. At SDSU, she directed the Character Counts! youth project for three years, then became one of the founders of the community development Extension initiative. From 2004 – 2010, she directed the Horizons project, an intensive 2-year leadership development program in forty South Dakota communities. That project received a USDA Innovative Program award, and is still alive in communities today.

Kari is currently the SDSU Extension Community Vitality Program Manager located at Martin, in southwestern South Dakota. She is an alumni of the 2-year SD Ag & Rural Leadership, Class 3. Her main interest areas are leadership, strategic planning and public issues.

Personally, Kari and her husband, Rick, ranch 30 mi. east of Martin, where they raise purebred Angus cattle and crops. She has three grown sons, three daughter-in-laws, and nine grandchildren that she loves to spend time spoiling.

Amy Lehman,
Community Leader from White River, South Dakota
Bobbie Schmidt,
Community Leader from White River, South Dakota
Meeting the Opportunity for Local Meats

Consumer demand for locally-raised meats is at a high point and the trends for specialty, niche products such as grass-fed beef continue to rise. Hear about how one entrepreneur, Meat & Complete, is tapping into this market as a local meat processor with their Cibo protein bars and how the Center for Rural Affairs is working to strengthen the local meat processing infrastructure to expand opportunities for both local processors and producers and to sustain this vital element of rural economies.

Location: Sandhills State Bank (132 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Meg Jackson,
Local Foods Associate, Center for Rural Affairs
Bio

Meg is a local foods associate with the Center for Rural Affairs and spends most of her time working on the Center’s newest lending initiative: Meat Processing Loans, made possible by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program grant. Growing up on cattle ranches in the Sandhills and working the last 15 years in local food, agriculture, and civic engagement in the nonprofit field, Meg brings both passion and experience to the Center’s farm and lending initiatives.

Chelsea Luthy-Stoeger,
Founder & CEO, Meat & Complete
Bio

A complete approach to fueling your body with a taste that is sure to interest you. This is Chelsea Luthy-Stoeger, Founder & CEO of Meat & Complete. Cibo [pronounced Chee-boh] is the brand. Chelsea grew up on a farm and ranch in Cody, Nebraska. As an FFA member, her service project developed into the Circle C Market which is a student-run straw bale grocery store and entrepreneurship center. She was a regent scholar and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a major in Grazing Livestock Systems and a minor in the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. Chelsea is also a Nebraska LEAD Program Fellow of Class 37. She loves to travel and her next international trip is to Switzerland.

She has 3 children ages 4, 7, and 10 and her husband built the new kitchen facility. The Cibo meat protein bar came about when Chelsea was traveling for work looking for healthy food options and there just weren’t any, so she created her own.

Valentine Street Project - Walking Tour - CANCELLED

Please note this session has been cancelled.

Speaker(s):
Kim Wilson,
Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
10:45 am
Breakout Session V

Location: Local Area Businesses

New Roads: Working With Partners on a Main Street Update

A major highway renovation project through the heart of downtown presented the community of Valentine with a choice—either let the trucks continue to speed through or come together and create a pedestrian and business friendly space that meets the needs of locals and highway travelers. Hear from community leaders and partners who came together to listen, learn, design, and build a downtown streetscape worthy of headlines.

Location: City Hall (323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Mike Burge,
KVSH Radio
Mark Kovar,
Nebraska Department of Transportation
Jess Hurlburt,
Olsson
Shane Siewert,
City Manager, City of Valentine
Kyle Arganbright,
Mayor of Valentine
Bio

Kyle Arganbright is the Executive Vice President and co-founder of Sandhills State Bank, and a co-founder of Bolo Beer Co. brewery.

Arganbright graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he was student body president and a student regent. He returned home to Valentine, Nebraska to launch a local bank, and was elected to the Valentine City Council, currently serving as mayor.

Lodging Options to Support Destination Businesses - CANCELLED

Please note this session has been cancelled - we encourage you to attend the New Roads session instead!

All Things Nebraska: Data Driven Decision Making

Learn how a new Nebraska Extension-hosted data platform can help local development organizations, government agencies, non-profits, and entrepreneurs quickly view maps of important data trends for stakeholders, including potential funding sources. The session will conclude with an interactive training-Q&A session for participants so bring your laptop 

Location: Sandhills State Bank (132 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Katelyn Larson,
Extension Educator, Rural Prosperity Nebraska
Bio

Katelyn Larson has been with Nebraska Extension for the past 15 years. She has been in this state-wide role as a Rural Prosperity Nebraska Extension Educator for the past two years. This state-wide role focuses on data management and visualization, not only for RPN but all of Nebraska Extension.  

Momentum Shifts in Community Change for Rural Prosperity

Community development professionals seek to understand and address the complex factors that drive positive change. The findings of a recent qualitative study of community change at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln show positive community change begins with the community having the "right stuff" in place, such as the capacity for change, a community growth mindset, a sense of civic engagement, and effective local leadership. With these conditions in place, strategies can then be implemented successfully to create long-lasting change within the community. These strategies range from community economic development efforts to partnerships and collaborations across communities. This session will provide an overview of the study and present a model of community momentum that would support local initiatives to build and prosper rural communities.

Location: Price's Gallery & Framing (213 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Dr. Lindsay Hastings,
Education & Communications Professor, UNL Department of Ag Leadership
Bio

Dr. Lindsay Hastings serves as the Clifton Professor in Mentoring Research and Research Director for NHRI Leadership Mentoring at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in leadership theory and leadership development, and her research centers around advancing scholar and practitioner knowledge in leadership mentoring, community leadership development, and youth leadership.  Dr. Hastings is a resident of Seward, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband, Matt, and two daughters, Lilly and Anna.

Justine Yeo & Shawn Kaskie,
UNL ALEC PhD Students
Disruptive Redevelopment

Learn about the importance of design within the framework of rural prosperity. Successful interventions in rural communities need to be economically viable, functional, AND beautiful. Also, no one is coming to save you - you need a local champion to step up and take on a project. Patrick will share a few examples of out-of-the-box designs for downtown revitalization, and how different concepts can work in smaller communities.

Location: Valentine Public Library (324 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201)

Speaker(s):
Patrick Moore,
Owner & Principal Architect, Goodlife Architecture
Bio

Patrick is founder and principal architect at Goodlife Architecture in Downtown Kearney, Nebraska. Goodlife is a design firm which specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, serving to revitalize communities in creative ways. Patrick also owns and manages Upstairs Downtown, a property redevelopment and leasing company with buildings in Kearney and Hastings.

12:00 pm
Lunch & Closing Session

Roast Beef Sandwiches and Salad from Niobrara Valley Vineyards

Location: City Hall, 323 N Main St, Valentine, NE 69201

Keynote: Recreation Tourism

Professor James Lewis from Western Michigan University is a recreation expert who has an added research specialization in rural tourism, especially the development of rural areas through tourism development. He has previously studied tourism in Valentine and will share some thoughts on recreation tourism. 

Speaker(s):
Dr. James Lewis,
Invitation to 2024 CEC Conference

Learn which community is hosting CEC 2024!

SAVE THE DATE - May 1-2, 2024 in Sidney!

1:00 pm
Conference Concludes

The City of Valentine has several optional activities lined up on Friday afternoon and Saturday - please stay if you can!

Friday night: Main Street Ribbon Cutting and Street Dance featuring Ransom Brothers and Whiskey Rebellion