“Agri-preneurs” Getting Together This Week

The Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference is May 30-31 in Platteville. It will focus on how to build entrepreneurial ecosystems in Wisconsin’s rural communities. The inaugural CEC Conference will also focus on agricultural entrepreneurs or “agri-preneurs.”

Kyle Vesperman is one of the featured panelists. His farm in Lancaster has journeyed from row crops to fresh produce to agri-tourism and ice cream over the past 100 years. Vesperman will speak to how he has created new revenue streams to keep the century farm viable.

“I’m just a kid trying to keep this farm that’ has’s been in my family for so many generations just keep it viable, and keep it going,” he says. “We had some pretty down years right after building our big building, and I was sort of looking for ideas that could be a good shoulder season or diversifying into different things.”

Topics will also cover: How to support and create succession plans for local businesses; How to create more welcoming communities for newcomers; Learn about farm financing insights; and Keys to developing and enhancing local food systems.

“I think one of the big challenges early on is that we’re in a very rural area,” Vesperman says. “Just trying to get people to first come to your farm was I think the first challenge, and it didn’t happen overnight. It took 10, 12 years I think before Dubuque really discovered us. The big primary hurdle is just being patient.”

The Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference is the first of its kind in Wisconsin. Platteville won the competitive bid over five other cities. The two-day event has more than 50 speakers. The conference will take place across several downtown Platteville spaces including City Hall, the Avalon movie theater, the Rountree Gallery, and the Platteville Public Library.

Register today: https://go.wisc.edu/cec