Conferences addresses social change in rural communities

GERING, Neb. – Making a positive impact on rural communities is the topic of an upcoming conference hosted by the Panhandle Partnership and Panhandle Area Development District.
Rural Social Enterprise 2017: Local Business Solutions for Lasting Social Impact will focus on the innovative area of social enterprise. The conference is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, at the Gering Civic Center.
Social enterprise addresses social concerns through a business model, in either a non-profit agency or a business. In rural communities, social enterprise presents an opportunity to solve social and economic problems and sustain communities while decreasing dependence on government and private
foundation grants.
The conference will feature three plenary sessions. Keynote speaker Tim Mittan, author of “The Pocket Business Coach: Creating and Enjoying an Entrepreneurial Life,” reminds his audiences that entrepreneurs are people, not businesses and that the life of an entrepreneur is not always an easy one. Mittan will share strategies to overcome these challenges to promote a much-needed work-life balance for today’s entrepreneurs.
Panelists from the Panhandle Partnership’s Greater Goods and Innovations and Investments working groups will share local examples of social enterprise solutions and the ways in which community partnerships can promote regional solutions.
Tamra Ryan from the Women’s Bean Project in Denver, Colorado is the current board chair for the Social Enterprise Alliance and will close the conference with current trends in social enterprise from around
the country.
Break-out sessions will provide an opportunity to hear from people who operate social enterprise endeavors. Presenters will include: Craig Cegielski from Cardinal Manufacturing in Strum, WI who will highlight a successful social enterprise within a school district; Tamra Ryan, CEO of the Women’s Bean Project in Denver, CO which seeks to support marginalized women through an innovative social enterprise business; Greg Ptacek of Johnnie Byrd Brewing Co. in Wayne, NE who will discuss his B-corp business and some of the advantages and disadvantages to various structures of social enterprise operations; and representatives from Pacha Soap in Hastings, NE who will share their focus on buying local products in order to support clean water initiatives in
developing nations.
Thanks to generous private funding from conference sponsors including Western Nebraska Community College, and Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska the conference registration is $25, including lunch, drinks and snacks. Registration is now available at or by calling Mona at Panhandle Partnership, (308) 633-3818.
Registration deadline is June 1.
Reduced rates for groups and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Learn more at

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