2024 Conference in Fulton, Missouri, Sept. 17-19

Whether you work in economic development, business, arts and culture, government, philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, or education, you have an important part to play in supporting local businesses and entrepreneurial development in communities. There is something for everyone!

Visit our conference registration page below for more information on this year’s conference, including the agenda, speakers, and accommodations.

Registration is now open!

2024 speaker bios

Learn about our 2024 Conference speakers.

Beth Snyder, Serial Entrepreneur, Wednesday Luncheon Keynote and Breakout Session – How Local & State Governments Can Limit Barriers for Entrepreneurs

From a young age, Beth Snyder loved all things arts and crafts. As a high schooler in Callaway County in the mid nineties, her first business "Beth's Bauble & Beads" was successful enough to put her through college. Between then and now, the great creative project of starting and growing a business has inspired several small and creative endeavors including freelance design, custom murals, and basically anything that provided a little extra money to buy more art supplies.

Beth graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a BFA in Fibers and Graphic Design, hoping to someday be a designer of fabric. She has worked in television design and as an art director for magazines, but now owns and operates several creative product and logistics businesses from offices at 413 Court Street in Fulton. Her bandana business, Handker Bandanas, can be found in 3500 retail stores around the world and on the web, and her 3PL fulfillment warehouse employs more than 20 people in Fulton and serves small gift company clients.

Beth is married to Jason, an IT professional at MU, and is mom to a school aged daughter. In addition to being a long-time board member of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, she has served on boards for the YMCA of Callaway County, the Show Me Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs and the Advisory Board of the School of Visual Studies at Mizzou. For fun, she works more, reads the first 4 chapters of many business books, does a variety of crafts, and views travel as her own personal Olympic level sport.

Desma Deitz, Executive Director - VentureLab, Thursday Luncheon Keynote

Desma Deitz is a seasoned, mission-driven leader with over fifteen years’ experience working at the forefront of youth development, program innovation and evaluation. As Executive Director of VentureLab, Desma leads a passionate team dedicated to creating and promoting more opportunities for youth entrepreneurship education in the classroom, afterschool and in the community. Under her leadership, VentureLab has grown to reach more than 872,000 students and tens of thousands of educators globally with its proven approach to entrepreneurial learning—empowering kids to think like entrepreneurs.

Prior to joining VentureLab, Desma held leadership roles at UNICEF, the Girl Scouts and Marathon Kids. During her time at UNICEF Ventures, she developed new products and platforms to accelerate social innovation. She led the team that launched UNICEF Kid Power, the world’s first Wearable-for-Good® and one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions of 2016, from prototype, to pilot, to multi-million dollar cause platform and award-winning retail product.

A graduate of NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with a master's degree in nonprofit administration, Desma is passionate about creating transformative educational experiences that promote equity for all children. She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two young daughters and one very old sweet dog.

Kara Siebe, Jason Adams, Brian Keller - Nurturing An Entrepreneurial Mindset – All Students THRIVE

Kara Siebe has worked in education for going on 23 years and she is currently the Coordinator for the Webster Groves School District Thrive Entrepreneurship Program. In this role, she has created an entrepreneurship incubator for high school students and implemented entrepreneurial mindset curriculum/programming in the district's K-8 schools. Her colleagues and friends often describe her as a connector and a thinking partner. She believes that student learning is best when teachers provide authentic learning experiences and allow students to learn by doing. She seeks to connect curriculum to students' personal interests in order to create a student's desire and passion for lifelong learning. She is also passionate about removing any barriers to entry for students when it comes to experiential learning opportunities. Kara lives in Webster Groves with her husband and two children. When she isn't working with students, you'll find her volunteering with the Japanese International Harvest Church and with the Webster Groves, Shrewsbury, Rock Hill, Brentwood Chamber of Commerce.

Kara will be joined by Dr. Jason Adams (Assistant Superintendent) and Brian Keller (Social Studies Coordinator)

Maggie Strong - The Power of Authentic Engagement

Maggie is a community builder. She founded Strong Consulting in 2016 to help organizations and communities think creatively and act strategically. A former economic development vice president and marketing executive, Strong has 20 years of experience in strategic planning, communications, and public engagement. Strong was responsible for business retention and attraction efforts, fundraising, marketing and public relations, planning, and facilitating relationships with public and private partners and organizations.

As a consultant, Strong has worked with civic and nonprofit clients to research, develop, facilitate, and implement strategic plans, assessments, and marketing and communication plans. She has coached nonprofit executives and boards on how to be effective and impactful. She holds a bachelor's degree in arts management and a master's degree in business administration, both from Quincy University. Maggie is an expert facilitator, trained in the McNellis Compression Planning® methodology, and certified in Nonprofit Board Consulting through BoardSource. She brings authenticity, humor, and urgency to her work and a deep respect for all people.

William SaintAmour - Using Creepy Data for Good: Geofencing, AI, & Insights for Local Governments & Entrepreneurs

William is the CEO/Executive Director of Cobalt Community Research, a 501c3 that provides survey, market, and geofencing data to communities across the United States. William has more than 30 years in the research/communication evaluation fields. He holds a master's degree from MSU in communications, an executive certificate from the University of Michigan's Ross Business School, and an undergraduate degree in English from U of M Dearborn. He serves on the Charlotte Main Street Board and Economic Vitality Committee, was certified as a Citizen Master Planner, and is a beekeeper and mead maker.

Steven Henness & Chris Egelston - Real-World Entrepreneurial Learning: How Communities Are Expanding Opportunities & Unlocking the Potential of High School Entrepreneurs and Discover How CEO Transforms Your Youth Into Entrepreneurial Thinkers & Doers!

Steven Henness is senior evaluator with the University of Missouri Assessment Resource Center. With 20-plus years of statewide program development and evaluation experience, he has served in PI, project management, and evaluation roles on Federal, state, local agency, and private foundation grant awards. His applied research and evaluation experience ranges in scope from local community initiatives to multi-state and multidisciplinary projects in K-16 and community-based education, extension, national service, and youth and community development. Steve is a graduate of the MU Community Development Academy (2001) and earned a graduate certificate in Society & Sustainability (2021) from the University of Missouri. He received an MS in rural sociology (2000) and a PhD in rural sociology (2024) from the University of Missouri.

Chris Egelston has spent his life on stage. Starting as a 15-year old magician / entrepreneur, becoming a corporate entertainer and a keynote speaker on life and business success, marketing and communication. For the last 5 years, he's also served as the Community Engagement Leader for the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship where he speaks on the transformational Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities / CEO Program, youth entrepreneurship, economic development, workforce development and building entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Stacy Dohogne Lane - Youth Entrepreneurship & Future-Ready Skills for Missouri Youth

Stacy Dohogne Lane, the Director of the Youth Coding League, has played a leading role in creating, developing, refining, and growing the YCL since it's launch at 10 rural schools in the Fall of 2018 to the 85 schools in 10 states it currently serves, including maintaining program operations during the COVID-19 pandemic's school shutdowns. She has served on the Board of Trustees for the Cape Girardeau Public Library since 2015, and combines her knowledge of the YCL and public libraries to serve rural communities.

Jessie Jones – Cultivating Seeds in Your Economic Garden

Jessie Jones is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship education as a way to empower students to make positive change in their lives and their communities. As Director of Strategic Partnerships with the Young Entrepreneur Institute (YEI) at University School in Northeast Ohio, Jessie cultivates and nurtures relationships with regional and national level organizations that serve youth, provide entrepreneurship content and experiences and support the advancement of youth entrepreneurship in the K-12 space. She also speaks and teaches nationally about the value and impact of early experiences with entrepreneurship. Prior to joining YEI in 2012, Jessie spent ten years as a technology and business consultant. She started her first business at age 12, catering dinner parties. Jessie holds an MS in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University and a BA in English from Guilford College.

Annette Kendall – Unlocking Potential, Building Futures: Empowering Neurodivergent Entrepreneurs

Born in New Zealand, Dr. Annette Kendall moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2015. She opened her first business at the age of five, selling her neighbors the flowers out of their own gardens. Five years later she became a paid blogger, writing notes for her classmates and receiving 50 cents a piece for her efforts. Later phases of her entrepreneurial career, before she got into academia, included teaching children’s theatre, accounting, and operating a dictaphone. Thanks to a clerical error and a slight exaggeration of her calculus knowledge, Dr Kendall was awarded her PhD in 2019 despite not having an under-graduate degree. Now an assistant extension professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she creates and supports initiatives aimed at understanding, stimulating and facilitating innovation in rural regions. Empowering neurodivergent individuals to explore invention and entrepreneurship as a way to gain more control over their futures is another focus area of her work. Dr. Kendall has three dogs, one husband, one 24 year-old son, and has enjoyed the same breakfast every day for nearly nine years.

Codefi - Building Innovative Entrepreneurial Ecosystems through Technology-Based Economic Development

Speaker info to come.

David Burton - Becoming An Engaged Neighbor & Community

David has been a community development specialist with the University of Missouri for 23 years. In the last seven years, he has become a nationally known expert on the concept of neighboring and how choices we make in the neighborhood impact our larger community. He is the author of numerous articles on the subject is a sought after speaker on the topic of becoming an engaged neighbor. Businesses that want to pursue engagement in their community can begin right in their own neighborhood. When the business owner or leader sets the example, the idea of becoming an engaged neighbor can be infectious to others. Those neighborhood connections lead to an increased sense of belonging which causes people to stay in a community longer, an increased likelihood of being civically involved, improved health and even a reduction crime.

Kevin Johansen - Cultivating Your Passion and Reaping the Harvest

Kevin has always been passionate about agriculture. As a 5th generation farmer, he quickly became active in 4H, FFA and the American International Charolais Breeders Association. His family has a deep history in agriculture starting out as row crop farmers then diversifying into seedstock cattle in the late 1980s. The AgButler platform stems from the means of which actually put Kevin through college and young adulthood as a day laborer on cattle operations across the country. His vision is to create a platform connecting agricultural communities and supplying a tool that can revitalize rural America.

Mark Cowsert & Aaron Banks - From Dreams to Paychecks: Students as the Future of Entrepreneurial Communities

Mark Cowsert is the Associate Director of Partnerships at the Missouri AfterSchool Network. With nearly 40 years of work experience in youth development, higher education administration, ministry and advancement, Mark is passionate about helping students discover and pursue their future hopes and dreams. After leading a 21st CCLC program focused on college and career readiness, Mark came to MASN to oversee the Career Awareness and Post-Secondary Access and Youth Entrepreneurship initiatives as well as helping develop partnerships with MASN’s STEM initiative. In addition to partnership work, Mark supports afterschool through policy advocacy as an Afterschool Alliance Ambassador Emeritus.

Aaron Banks, the Youth Workforce Initiatives Coordinator at the Missouri AfterSchool Network (MASN), brings 25 years of diverse work experience to his role. His background includes teaching, crafting career education curriculum, and successfully launching a business. Aaron’s expertise lies in career attainment and entrepreneurship education, which he leverages to support afterschool programs in introducing these future-focused initiatives to out-of-school time students.

William King - Thriving in the People Business

William King is a business and marketing professor at Moberly Area Community College. Along with his agricultural and business background William thrives in assisting youth achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. His philosophy of business is people and three keys to success has been the foundation for thousands of young people in Missouri.

Darin Preis, Jayme Prenger, Jamie Wallingford - Helping Entrepreneurs Finance Their Future

Darin Preis, Executive Director, Central Missouri Community Action,has worked on early childhood and poverty issues since 1994. Mr. Preis led the Missouri Head Start-State Collaboration Office from 1999 to 2005. Since October 2005 he has been the Executive Director of Central Missouri Community Action. He has served three terms on the Columbia Missouri Board of Education, including terms as Board Vice President and President, and served as a member of the Executive Leadership Council for the Boone County Cradle to Career Alliance. He is also a past-Chair of the Missouri Foundation for Health Board of Directors and past-President of the PedNet Coalition in Columbia, MO. Mr. Preis has been active with the Boone County Upward Mobility initiative sponsored by the Urban Institute and Co-Chaired the Jobs and Workforce Development committee. He also joined the St. Louis Federal Reserve Community Development Advisory Council in 2023. Career and volunteer commitments all revolve around economic stability, health, and education.

Jayme Prenger, Director, Missouri Women’s Business Center, has served in a non-profit leadership capacity for over 15 years. While in these roles, Mrs. Prenger has advocated for educating and strengthening females through enrichment programs. Her first non-profit stint was early in her career, when she worked her way up from a part-time camp staffer to the Director of Product Sales for the Girl Scouts, where she provided logistics and program management for 68 counties in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. Between 2011 and 2022, Mrs. Prenger held several marketing and sales positions, including healthcare sales, banking and the auto industry. During this time, she attended the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida, for a life-changing customer experience training through the eyes of Disney. In Spring of 2022, Mrs. Prenger joined Central Missouri Community Action as the Director of their Women’s Business Center. She has been able to use over 25 years of experience to thrive in her current position. Mrs. Prenger is a huge proponent of financial literacy and providing educational opportunities to make the world a better place. She assisted the Women’s Business Center in becoming the only Kauffman FastTrac Affiliate in Central Missouri and became a certified facilitator herself. In addition to her professional work, Mrs. Prenger has served on various boards and community committees over the years. Currently she is serving her second term on the Columbia Chamber Women’s Network Leadership Team, Co-Chair for the Women’s Network Mentorship Program, Executive Board for the Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce and member of the Kauffman Foundation ESO Leadership Team. Mrs. Prenger and her husband Kyle, along with their kids, live in Boonville, Missouri. In her spare time she loves to read and travel to her favorite destinations of St. John, USVI, where they snorkel or Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to snow ski.

Jamie Wallingford, Financial Opportunity Coordinator, Central Missouri Community Action, has over eighteen years of experience in the finance industry with several lending institutions. Before joining CMCA, she served as the Market Business Manager with First State Community Bank where she focused on financial security, audits and business account management. While at First State Community Bank, she served as a member of the Missouri Women’s Business Center Advisory Board. This is where she found a passion in nonprofit work and began to help find solutions. In March of 2023, she was offered the opportunity to join the CMCA team as a Financial Coach. This opportunity allowed her to take the nearly two decades of financial experience she had and become part of the solution by working directly with individuals and families to obtain financial freedom. Shortly thereafter, the Women’s Business Center invited her to join forces and provide direct financial coaching to small business owners. They had identified that in order to build a successful business you need a solid financial foundation, both personally and for your business. Her mission is to provide economic stability within the communities we live. She provides strength and support by serving on her local school board and as a volunteer coach, as well as running her own business where she encourages a healthy lifestyle and positive body image.

Codefi - Empowering Rural Tech Entrepreneurs: Partnering with Codefi to Access Startup Program

Speaker info to come.

Meg Langland - The Art of Conversation: Feeling Comfortable in Social Situations

Margaret (Meg) Langland, M.Ed., LPC

Meg Langland, a certified Etiquette Consultant since 2013, has provided dining and networking presentations in a variety of settings, ranging from mid-Missouri to national conferences. A graduate of Mizzou's Educational and Counseling Psychology master's program, Meg enjoys helping individuals actualize their potential and overcome barriers to become more confident in social and business situations.

In addition to being a Licensed Professional Counselor, Meg is a Gallup-Certified CliftonStrengths Coach. Before forming Greater Visions Consulting, Meg served for 22 years in the field of higher learning as a director of career development. A resident of Boone County, Meg is President of the Downtown Toastmasters Club, where she assists members in developing their communication skills and leadership abilities.

Wendy Moore - Cultivating Innovation: Building New Ecosystems & Integrating With Existing Communities

Wendy Moore is a founder, social entrepreneur, and technologist passionate about creating work environments so that everyone can thrive. Her career has given her opportunities to work around the world with top innovation leaders, companies, and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Through her company, Eleve Talent, she works with startups all around the country on talent strategy, hiring, employee engagement, and retention.

Living in Marceline, Missouri, she is passionate about rural entrepreneurship and providing quality jobs and connections everywhere.

Kim Barnes - YEP, You Can Make Moments That Matter

Kimberly Barnes has led The Callaway Bank as its President and CEO since October 2012, however, her career in banking began as a lobby receptionist with the Bank in 1987.  At the time, Kim was a recent graduate of William Woods University, with degrees in accounting and computer science.

Over the years, Kim has held many positions throughout the Bank from lending to operations, and has spearheaded initiatives such as Brick District Revitalization, the Show Me Innovation Center and pitch competitions, the Missouri Women’s Business Center and Youth Entrepreneur Program.

Kim’s vision for the Bank is to see it continue as an independent community bank dedicated to helping its clients succeed and our communities thrive.  “We want to be their consultant, advisor, and trusted financial partner.  When we say, ‘We’re With You for the Moments That Matter,’ we mean it.  When our clients are successful and moving their business forward, it makes us all stronger,” says Barnes.

Kim learned from her mentors about the importance of giving back and believes we should all step forward and serve where we can. She serves, or has served, on the following boards: SERVE, Inc., Callaway Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Women’s Business Center, Fulton Area Development Foundation, William Woods University Board of Trustees, Callaway Industrial Development Authority, and the Missouri Bankers Association.

Deana Dothage - Hosting a CEC Conference

Deana Dothage, MU Extension, is the Extension and Engagement Specialist and Field Specialist in Community Development for MU Extension in St. Charles County. Deana has the ability to connect with people from all walks of life making it easy to communicate and relate both on a professional and personal level. She brings experience in insurance, business ownership, health education, law enforcement and volunteer management. In addition to Neighborhood Leadership Academy, Deana works on the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference, Strategic Doing, Show Me Neighborhood Art, and the Engaged Neighbor program. She has a B.S. in Administration of Justice – Policing Option from University of Missouri St. Louis and a master’s degree in Public Affairs from University of Missouri Columbia with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Brianna Kliethermes (moderator), Samantha Lacefield, Tia Neal, Heather Graves - Early Education Panel

Tia Neal was raised in Fulton, MO, and graduated from Fulton High School in 2003. She started working at the Fulton Public Schools Childcare program as a lead teacher, while attending William Woods University and was promoted to Director of the FEC Daycare in 2007. In 2017, she became the Director of the T-Bird Learning Center at North Callaway District. Tia currently holds the position of Director of the T-Bird Learning Center and Co-Director of the District, also serving as a Parents as Teacher educator. With 21 years of experience in Early Childhood Education, Tia is passionate about Early Childhood Education and Hands-on Learning.

Tia is married to Ryan Neal, and they live in Fulton with their two daughters, Kayla Neal, a Special Education teacher at NC, and Ella Neal, a freshman at North Callaway. In her free time, she enjoys attending her girls' sporting events and other activities, and in the summer, she likes spending time at the Lake of the Ozarks with her family.

My name is Heather Graves. I was born and raised in Callaway County. I have 2 children with my husband of 26 years and we have 3 grandchildren. I have owned Toddlers Ink LLC, an early childhood education center, since 2007 and been the director since 2018. We are currently licensed for 88 children ages birth to 12 years. I have education in the early childhood education field and love my kiddos and families.

Robert Graham - Cyber Guidance for Small Businesses

As a CISA Region 7 Cybersecurity Advisor, Robert provides risk mitigation advice, conducts outreach, assessments and inspections; and coordinates training and support to CISA's partners.

CSAs offer cybersecurity assistance to critical infrastructure owners and operators and state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) governments. CSAs introduce organizations to various CISA cybersecurity products and services, along with other public and private resources, and act as liaisons to CISA cyber programs. CSAs can provide cyber preparedness, assessments and protective resources, strategic messaging, working group support and leadership, partnership in public-private development, and incident coordination and support in times of cyber threat, disruption, and attack.

Christina Salter - Building Relationships Brings A Lifetime of Benefits

Having won a national sales competition in high school, Chrissy learned early in her career there is importance to relationship building. What set Chrissy apart in that competition was her ability to communicate and connect with decision makers. She understood that relationship building in the community, above all else, will assist achieving long term goals. Since that high school experience, Chrissy has continued relationship building in a successful sales career that has spanned 40 years; including yellow pages, radio, newspaper, and local broadcast TV sales. Because of important relationships built in Jefferson City during that career, she is now employed at Imagemark Marketing Agency selling all of the same media products but now under one roof. She'd like to think that she specializes in digital sales because she believes as quickly as marketing times are changing, so must your marketing strategy. But what will never change is her genuine desire to help other achieve their goals. Thus, continuing to build those important connections in the community that will last a lifetime.

Tim Goree - The 60%: American Education’s Lost Kids & How We Find Them

Tim Goree is a former software developer, chief technology officer, and chief communications officer in 4 different school districts over a 25 year career. Now, he's the principal researcher for the School to Business Association, leading the charge to develop curriculum, conduct research, and create software supporting school reform that encourages high schools and colleges to allow students to create and run real, for profit businesses for school credit. Tim is an accomplished leader, speaker, and AI expert dedicated to helping others build systems that help communities build a better future.

Sarah Wisdom - Unleashing the Entrepreneur in Everybody: Embracing Innovation & Creativity

With over twenty years of experience in public education, Dr. Sarah Wisdom became the first female Superintendent of the New Bloomfield R-III School District in July 2017. Her responsibilities included the direction and overall delivery of K-12 curriculum programs, the developing, implementing, and evaluation of educational services for the district, and providing leadership for both Elementary and Secondary schools.

Mrs. Wisdom has served in several capacities throughout her career. These include paraprofessional, special education teacher and adjunct professor of education, special services director and superintendent. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students of all backgrounds. Dr. Wisdom is passionate about curriculum development, teacher training, and implementing innovative teaching methods to ensure student success.

Mrs. Wisdom has a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Woods University in Political Legal Studies, a Master of Education degree from William Woods University in School Leadership, an Education Specialist degree from William Woods University and a Doctorate in Education also from William Woods University.

She has been happily married for more than nineteen years to her husband Jeremy. They have two wonderful children, Kennedy and Harper.

Jonathan Bell - Small Town, Big Impact

Jonathan Bell is the teen entrepreneur who turned pandemic job rejections into a thriving marketing firm. As the founder of Bells Marketing Consultant, he empowers businesses to navigate the digital world with his Gen Z insights and results-driven approach.

CORI - Solution-Based Partnerships With Rural Communities

Speaker info to come.

Emily Hemingway - Transforming Communities Through Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Emily Hemingway transforms communities through entrepreneurship and innovation. With over 15 years experience, she is committed to fostering equitable economic opportunity across America by empowering regions through data-driven strategic planning, public-private partnerships, and leading-edge community advancement practices. Having worked her way from coast to coast, Emily is an economic development powerhouse, award-winning event producer, business accelerator director, public relations specialist, and nationally recognized thought leader in entrepreneurial ecosystem design. Emily currently serves as the Founding Executive Director of TechSTL, the first Tech Council of Greater St Louis.

Kasi Lacey - Collaborative Success: Building Bridges Between Small Businesses and Higher Education

Dr. Kasi Lacey is the Founder/CEO of H &L Legacy Consulting an Executive and Leadership Coaching business for women. As a psychologist, who previously served as a C-suite executive/Vice-President working in higher education for 15+ years, she provided supervision and leadership to staff of several departments, including Residential Life, Student Involvement, Fraternity and Sorority Life, the Center for Faith & Service, the Wellness Center, and Student Accountability. Dr. Lacey has served on a variety of committees and boards throughout her career, including strategic plan development and implementation; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; Master Planning Committee, President’s Cabinet, Health and Wellness Prevention, Women’s Retreat, and Campus Title IX/Clery Task Force. Dr. Lacey was appointed to assume college-wide coordination and oversight of local, county, state, and federal community relationships, policies, and related initiatives, including grants, involvement with these constituencies, and other opportunities for the College. During her tenure, Dr. Lacey has applied for and received two federal grants totaling $600,000 from the Department of Justice/Office on Violence Against Women and co-secured 2.2 million in grants through county, state, and federal agencies. Her most recent adventure is founding an Executive and Leadership Coaching business as it is her mission to help female leaders increase confidence in all the “hats” they wear, and to guide them to achieve their goals with more clarity, confidence, and faster than going at it alone.

Alan Spell & Luke Dietterle - Microbusinesses Are Coming. Is Your Community Ready?

Alan's research focuses on applied industry and regional economic development studies. He has worked in economic/workforce development for over 20 years in various roles to include labor and industry research, land planning, and economic impact modeling. He holds degrees in economics and landscape architecture, as well as certification as an Economic Research Professional. Prior to joining the University in January 2020, Alan led the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) at the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

Luke's research focuses on regional community and economic development, food systems, and applied industry studies. Prior to Extension, he worked in state and regional government for five years doing legislative and budgetary analysis, advancing infrastructure and community development projects, and managing a revolving loan fund for small businesses. He holds degrees in public policy and English, and a certification in Geographic Information Science and Cartography. He is also a certified Strategic Doing practitioner and host of the Show-Me MO Success Podcast.

What people are saying

"This has been a wonderful conference filled with tangible takeaways to put into practice almost immediately in my community. The connections have been invaluable!"

"This has been the best most impactful conference ever! Hosting the seminars in actual businesses was perfect."

"This was an excellent conference very affordable and easy to attend. Wish I could have made it to all of the sessions!"