Tag Archives: mark thomas

MSU CEC Team treated like rock stars in Nebraska

Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Andy Hayes, Khurram Imam, Micah Loucks, and Frank Gublo pose for a photo in front the Loop Brewing Co. brick building.

MSU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) From left to right: Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Andy Hayes, Khurram Imam, Micah Loucks, Frank Gublo. Photo courtesy of Andy Hayes.

This week, we’ll hear from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension educator Andy Hayes sharing about the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) Team’s experiences in Nebraska:

Our MSU Extension CEC Team traveled to McCook, Nebraska, to participate in the state’s first CEC conference. Patterning their conference after our successful Michigan model, the Nebraska Extension team added their own flair and expertise and created an outstanding entrepreneurship conference.

MSU Extension team members Frank Gublo, Mark Thomas, Kay Cummings, Micah Loucks, Khurram Imam and I traveled to the conference and also gave breakout session presentations on a variety of entrepreneurship topics.

Approximately 80 people from 40 Nebraska communities participated. After hearing excellent keynote speakers in the local restored vintage movie theatre, participants attended breakouts around town in a wide range of businesses such as shoe stores, coffee shops, antique furniture stores and jewelry stores.

Nebraska Extension team members were so appreciative of the multi-state partnership between Michigan and Nebraska and our coaching and guidance; and participants were grateful that we traveled all that way to attend and participate; we truly felt like rock stars. And McCook is a cool town – the perfect setting for the team’s first conference.

Some of us even ventured out to the plateau at 5:30 a.m. to watch the mating dance of the prairie chickens. (Honest, you can’t make this stuff up!) It was seriously cool, and the scenery while watching the prairie wake up with the sunrise would make anyone want to live there.

While en route, we picked up a traveling companion from the University of Minnesota Extension, which made the trip even better. We ate beef in a local restaurant in York, Nebraska, and had time to tour the Food Innovation Center on the Nebraska Campus. All were truly impressive.

A great trip, and what makes it even more perfect is that we probably learned way more from our partners in Nebraska than they did from us.

Thank you, Andy, for sharing the stories from your trip. We’re thrilled about the positive impact that you and everyone on the CEC Team are having on the people of Michigan, and we’re proud that your ideas are spreading nationally.

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Filed under Conferences, Economic development, Entrepreneurial, Partnerships, professional development

Extension educators talk business

It’s always great to be able to tell our story and get the word out about Michigan State University Extension’s contributions to the state’s residents. One method of communication is radio.

 Andy Hayes, MSU Extension educator in the Greening Michigan Institute and president of the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, does a weekly Internet-based radio show on the Michigan Business Network called “Around the State.”

 His program airs every Thursday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. It can be downloaded afterward anytime online as a podcast. Each session, Andy focuses on a theme and all six interviews that hour tie to that theme.

 On the May 8 broadcast, the theme was MSU Extension. Andy interviewed six MSU Extension educators including:

  • Mark Breederland on the importance of educating to advance entrepreneurship
  • Frank Gublo on emerging farm management
  • Mark Hitchcock on the importance of supporting our own food systems to in turn support our economy
  • Kathy Jamison on the importance of educating future entrepreneurs for overall career success
  • Mark Thomas on the MSU Product Center
  • Kendra Wills on the Grand Rapids Downtown Market

 Click on the following link below to listen to each 6-minute session: http://michiganbusinessnetwork.com/radio/Around_the_State

 Check out the Michigan Business Network website to listen to more shows that include MSU Extension educators.

 If you have a business-related topic you’d like to discuss on the air, contact Andy at ANDY@NORTHERNLAKES.NET.

 We’re grateful for the opportunity to communicate our message.

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Making It in Michigan Conference opportunity for food and agricultural entrepreneurs

One of the themes of the year for Michigan has been that there is tremendous opportunity for economic development in food processing and other value-added activities that build on Michigan’s unique and diverse agricultural economy. It began with a white paper produced by Drs. Bill Knudson, Steven Miller and Chris Peterson of the Michigan State University Product Center, which caught the attention of Governor Rick Snyder and his administration. That led to an industry summit in April that focused attention on steps that could enhance development of new enterprises and expansion of existing ones in the food sector. The MSU Product Center already sponsors an important event that promotes opportunities for food businesses in Michigan, the Making It in Michigan conference. The conference takes place Oct. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing. Please help spread the word about this extremely important event.

 The conference targets food and agricultural entrepreneurs who are just starting out as well as those well established in the food industry. The event offers educational sessions and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to put their products in front of hundreds of buyers at the Marketplace Trade Show. Attendees who have an idea that they may want to develop and take to market have direct access to MSU Product Center team members.

 The MSU Product Center was established in spring 2003 with funds from AgBioResearch and Michigan State University Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors. Project GREEEN also provides funding.

Chris Peterson, Nowlin Chair for Consumer-Responsive Agriculture in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU, is the center’s director. Watch the following video in which Chris talks about the services that the Product Center offers, which range from developing an idea to testing the product to sustaining and growing the product’s sales.

In this following video, Scott Below, owner of LOL Ventures, talks about how the Product Center and Mark Thomas, innovation counselor for the Product Center, gave him the “straight scoop” about improving his business.

 The Making It in Michigan Conference is the ideal event for those looking for resources for their food and agricultural businesses or who have products that they want to showcase.

 Westborn Market is sponsoring a competition for vendors to win a year’s worth of shelf space at their stores. Watch the following video for details.

 Read more about the Making It in Michigan Conference here.

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Filed under Conferences