Wisconsin Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

A path through the trees in autumn.

Wisconsin Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

Strengthening Rural Wisconsin’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem by Engaging Rural Entrepreneurs, Leaders, and Innovators in Rural Communities


Gathering economic development practitioners, local decision makers, and community champions, the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference features presentations and technical programming to help small towns create environments in which entrepreneurs can thrive.

Inaugural Wisconsin CEC Conference

Come to Platteville this spring and explore how local entrepreneurship drives the Driftless Region’s development. Network with fellow community champions from around the state. And gain new technical skills for promoting entrepreneurship in your own small town.

An annual event in other Midwestern states, the CEC Conference is coming to Wisconsin for the first time in 2024. Business leaders, economic development professionals, local leaders, and community champions will gather in Platteville for two days of programming about strategies for supporting entrepreneurship in Wisconsin’s small towns.

Not a typical conference, CEC will tour attendees around Platteville to explore the Driftless Region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Local businesses will host panels and presentations, and conference attendees can check out the local food scene, visit key community sites, and network with fellow leaders in rural development. Participants will walk away with new perspectives and strategies for building entrepreneurial ecosystems in their own small towns.

Save the Date

Platteville, WI

May 30-31, 2024

Conference Schedule

Wednesday, May 29: Pre-Conference

6:00 – 8:00 pm: Meet & Greet

Out-of-town arrivals can gather for appetizers and early networking

Location: Beastro Se7en, 45 N. 2nd St.

Thursday, May 30: Day 1

9:00 am: Check-In, Trade Show, & Light Breakfast

Pick up your conference welcome packet and lunch tickets. First come first serve for lunch selections!

Location: City Hall, 75 N. Bonson St.

10:00 – 11:00 am: Welcome and Introductions

  • Master of Ceremonies: Kate Koziol, Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
  • Official Welcome: Barb Daus, Platteville Council President
  • Driftless Defined: Cory Ritterbush, Southwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
  • Keynote Speaker: Missy Hughes, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Keynote Speaker: Organic Valley

Location: City Hall, 75 N. Bonson St. 

11:00 – 11:30 pm: Travel to Session 1

11:30 – 12:30 pm: Sessions 1

  • Track 1: Economic Development Strategy, Roles, and Tactics
  • Track 2: Start-up Support and Resources 101
  • Track 3: Entrepreneurship with the Wisconsin Latino Chamber of Commerce
  • Track 4: Creating a Sustainable Agriculture Engine through Use-Inspired Innovation

Location: TBD

12:30 – 2:00 pm: Lunch at Platteville restaurants

Locations: Los Amigos, Downtown BBQ, Driftless Market

2:00 – 3:00 pm: Sessions 2

  • Track 1: Economic Development Case Study: Grant County
  • Track 2: Wisconsin Incubator Roundtable
  • Track 3: Creating Communities of Belonging in Rural Wisconsin
  • Track 4: Financial Resources for Agri-preneurs

Location: TBD

3:00 – 3:30 pm: Travel to Session 3

3:30 – 4:30 pm: Session 3

  • Track 1: Key Partners in Dynamic Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
  • Track 2: Business Start-Up Financing Resources
  • Track 3: Collective Entrepreneurship through Cooperatives
  • Track 4: Local Food Systems: What is the Economic Impact? 

Location: TBD

5:00 – 6:00 pm: Cocktail Reception at Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums

Location: Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums

6:00 – 8:00 pm: Dinner at Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums

There will be shuttles doing a loop between the hotels and the museum during the reception.

Location: Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums

Friday, May 31: Day 2

8:00 – 9:00 am: Trade Show & Light Breakfast

Sign up for tours of the Huff Innovation Center and the Platteville Business Incubator

Location: City Hall, 75 N. Bonson St. 

9:00 – 9:30 am: Travel to Sessions 4

9:30 – 10:30 am: Session 4

  • Track 1: Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building in Practice with the REV Program
  • Track 2: Preserving Community Assets: Facilitating Business Succession Planning
  • Track 3: Comienzos: Building Latino Entrepreneurship
  • Track 4: New Crops and New Farms: A Panel of Driftless Agri-preneurs

Location: TBD

10:30 – 11:00 am: Travel to Closing Session

11:00 – 11:45 am: Closing Discussion

Location: City Hall, 75 N. Bonson St. 

11:45 – 12:00 pm: Closing Remarks & Adjourn

  • Master of Ceremonies: Kate Koziol, SW Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
  • Keynote Speaker: Kevin Gonzalez, Vernon County Entrepreneur

Brown Bag Lunch To-Go to be passed out as attendees depart.

Post-Event Tours (Optional)

  • 1:00 pm – Huff Innovation Center at UW-Platteville
  • 2:00 pm – Platteville Business Incubator
  • Driftless Region Road Trips

Hotels – Reserve Now

*Mention you are part of the “CEC Block” to receive the listed room rate.

Equal Employment Opportunity & Affirmative Action Statements

We value inclusion and access for all participants. We are happy to provide accommodations to help you fully participate in this event.

An EEO/AA employer, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title VI, Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act requirements.Como empleador que brinda igualdad de oportunidades en el empleo y acción afirmativa (EEO/AA, por sus siglas en inglés), la University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, proporciona igualdad de oportunidades en el empleo y en sus programas, incluyendo los requisitos del Título VI, Título IX, la ley federal para personas con discapacidades en los Estados Unidos (ADA, por sus siglas en inglés) y los requisitos de la Section 504 del Rehabilitation Act.Tus Tswv Hauj Lwm Ntawm (EEO/AA), ntawm lub Tsev Kawm Ntawv Qib Siab (University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension) pab rau kev ncaj ncees txog kev hauj lwm thiab kev pab cuam, xws li nyob rau hauv Title VI, Title IX, thiab ntawm tsab cai Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) yuav tsum kom muaj thiab Feem 504 ntawm the Txoj Cai Kev Pab Rov Tsim Kho Uas Tau Teev Tseg.
Please make requests for reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to educational programs as early as possible preceding the scheduled program, service, or activity.Para asegurar un acceso igualitario a los programas educativos, haga el favor de solicitar adecuaciones razonables lo más pronto posible antes de la fecha del programa, servicio o actividad.Xav thov kom ua txoj kev thov laj thawj thiaj li tau cov kev pab cuam ntxov li ntxov tau ua ntej rau li lub caij nyoog ntawm cov kev pab cuam, kev pab los yog dej num no.
For communicative accommodations in languages other than English, please contact oaic@extension.wisc.edu.Para pedir adecuaciones para la comunicación en un idioma distinto al inglés, favor de comunicarse con: oaic@extension.wisc.edu.Rau kev sib tham pab cuam rau qhov lwm yam lus ntawm lus As Kiv (English), thov sau ntawv rau: oaic@extension.wisc.edu.
For communicative accommodations based on a disability, please contact Heather Lipinski Stelljes at: heather.stelljes@wisc.edu for the public.Para personas del público que quiera pedir adecuaciones para la comunicación debido a una discapacidad, favor de comunicarse con: heather.stelljes@wisc.eduRau kev sib tham pab cuam rau kev puas cev xws li tes taw, thov sau ntawv rau: heather.stelljes@wisc.edu

Funding Statement

This project is being supported, in whole or in part, by federal award number SLFRP0135 awarded to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System on behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension via the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Department of Administration.

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