January 12th: Growing Rural Entrepreneurial Ecosystems – Lessons from Tupelo MS to Ord NE

Session description: One of the most powerful stories of rural community transformation in the last 50 years is Tupelo, Mississippi (38,271 in 2019).  One of the most compelling emerging stories of rural community transformation is Ord, Nebraska (2,310 residents in 2019 anchoring a rural region of 10,000).  Don Macke, curator of the Ord Story, will share lessons learned in rural entrepreneurial ecosystem building through the lens of Ord’s 50-year transformation from deep and hopeless decline to a thriving community today.

Speaker bio: Don Macke leads e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (formerly the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship), an initiative with NetWork Kansas to build sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems across North America. Don has over 40 years of community economic development and policy experience. He was most recently the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the National Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. Through this work, Don helps communities and regions throughout North America grow entrepreneur-focused economic development strategies and ecosystems. Don calls Nebraska home and he is a proud resident of America’s Great Plains Region.

Cost: free registration


February 9th: Engaging Everyone: Accessibility as Sustainability in Your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Session description: Join Jules Good, Founder and Consulting Lead at Neighborhood Access, to learn how and why to include the disabled community in your entrepreneurial ecosystem. Creating accessible spaces and processes not only makes your community more inclusive; it also helps you develop flexible development and implementation methods to keep your business agile in the face of adversity. We’ll discuss concrete strategies for making your business accessible, and will also provide you with many written resources for future use. We look forward to seeing you at this Roundtable!

Speaker bio: Jules Good (they/them) is the founder and consulting lead at Neighborhood Access. Jules is a late-deaf, multiply-disabled entrepreneur with a passion for leveraging design, community, and talent to create more accessible communities.

Cost: Optional donations to Neighborhood Access


March 9th: Rural childcare: we can do so much!

Session description: Are you, like so many others, overwhelmed with the many difficulties in the rural childcare system?  Come hear about some models of partnerships and projects happening in west central MN that are WORKING to recruit and retain family and center child care programs. Afterward we will have discussion and invite attendees to share models that are working in their rural community.  While we have many challenges to overcome, there is so much we can do. Let’s bring our collective efforts together and multiply our impact!

Speaker bio: As the Director of Early Childhood at West Central Initiative for the past 18 years, Nancy Jost is a champion for advocating the best possible start for children toward a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding.

Through those Early Childhood Initiative efforts, Nancy helps lead 10 advocacy groups, one from each county of West Central Initiative’s service area and the White Earth Nation. She leads regional and statewide advocacy efforts, including supervision of the Early Childhood Dental Network and the Early Childhood Mental Health Network. When the legislature is in session, Nancy can be found testifying on behalf of the state’s early childhood education and child care efforts.

With a sociology degree and licensure in Parent/Child Education, Nancy has been a licensed family child care provider, a child care center teacher, worked in Early Childhood Special Education, Early Childhood Family Education, School Readiness, and Child Care Aware. For more than 45 years, this has been her work, her life, and her passion. She has been active on many early childhood boards, committees, and regional and state work groups. She was appointed by former Governor Dayton to be the Chairperson for his Early Learning Council.

Nancy is married with two children and eight grandchildren. She is an avid reader of novels and anything to do with early childhood, brain development, and equity. She loves to bake, garden, and hunt for treasures at garage sales and thrift stores.

Cost: free registration

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Sponsors