Focusing on entrepreneurship

Technology to be discussed at economic gardening forum

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— Business experts from across the globe are visiting Steamboat Springs this week for the National Economic Gardening Gathering.

The annual conference focuses on promoting economic growth through entrepreneurship, said Noreen Moore, business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative.

"It's focusing on entrepreneurs and their ability to create and sustain and expand their business models," Moore said. "So, the concept is any economic development program has at its core the creation of jobs."

Even the creation of just a few jobs helps the economy grow, she said.

The conference, which is co-sponsored by the Rural Policy Research Institute, begins today with a reception at the Daughenbaugh Ranch. Presentations start at 8 a.m. Friday and Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Steamboat Springs City Council Member Meg Bentley officially will welcome the participants today. She has been interested in economic gardening since she heard about it several years ago.

"It's not about going off to Miami or California and saying, 'We want you to move here and do your small business here,'" Bentley said. "People have already moved here, and likely as not, they have moved here because they were tourists here once, and they see there's an opportunity for a business to take off here."

Speakers include Don Macke, senior fellow at the Rural Policy Research Institute's Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Neb.; Takashi Yamamoto, associate economics professor at Akita International University in Japan; and Jane Robinson, economic development manager in Shellharbour, New South Wales, Australia.

Topics include entrepreneurship in the rural U.S., tools for business success, technology for rural entrepreneurs and youth entrepreneurship.

About 90 people are expected to attend, Moore said. Residents are welcome to sit in on sessions, and economic development groups are invited, she said.

Bentley said she plans to attend.

"To me, the most important thing is that this concept of economic gardening is really great for people who live here, both who want to get those services and who want to start those businesses," Bentley said. "It's keeping it local and growing at the same time. I'm just psyched that there are all these incredibly big people in this field who are going to be listening and presenting. It's going to be really exciting."

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