Driving Growth in Small Towns

The Rural Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Initiative from the Community Economic Development Program at UW-Madison Extension announces a new conference for the state of Wisconsin, the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) Conference.

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

Known across the country as “a conference about small towns for small towns,” the CEC Conference brings together rural economic developers, municipal leaders, community champions, and entrepreneurs for technical programming and idea sharing about how to build entrepreneurial ecosystems in Wisconsin’s rural communities. The inaugural CEC Conference will take place in Platteville on May 30-31 and will feature the story of the Driftless Region’s economic development.


Over 50 speakers will be presenting on 16 topics related to entrepreneurial ecosystem development in Wisconsin’s small towns. This inaugural conference will feature programming for communities just beginning to consider entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy, as well as communities with robust ecosystems already. CEC in Platteville will feature presentations from Driftless Region economic developers, as well as sessions highlighting the region’s agri-preneurship and contributions from its Hispanic/Latino community. Session topics include: “Wisconsin Incubator Roundtable,” “Creating Communities of Belonging in Rural Wisconsin,” “Facilitating Business Succession Planning,” and “Creating a Sustainable Agriculture Engine through Use-Inspired Innovation.” 

Not your typical conference, the CEC Conference will take place all over downtown Platteville, where conference attendees can visit local businesses and see first-hand the community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The conference activities will begin in City Hall, with keynotes from Organic Valley, Missy Hughes, the CEO of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and Kevin Gonzalez, an entrepreneur from Richland County. The Rollo Jamison and Mining Museum will feature networking, dinner, and live music, and conference attendees will receive a first edition of the road trip guide, Driftless Getaways, by Kate Koziol. Register today at: https://go.wisc.edu/cec