WASECA, Minn. — A community development initiative designed to bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders, economic development professionals, decision makers, and community champions will have its first conference in September.

Those people will share ideas and strengthen entrepreneurial networks at the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference Sept. 5-6 in Waseca.

"We expect participants to leave the conference more connected, more inspired, and ready with tools and ideas to advance small business in their communities," said Neil Linscheid, University of Minnesota Extension educator for community economics in central and southwest Minnesota.

Keynote speakers will be Amanda Brinkman, host of the Hulu series "Small Business Revolution," and Tom Smude, owner of Smude Sunflower oil.

Twenty breakout sessions will take place in venues throughout the community featuring local and state leaders. Topics will include innovative strategies for filling downtown spaces, business succession, agritourism, co-working space models, and more.

Participants are encouraged to bring a team to learn, connect and start a local discussion about their community’s future.

The conference begins at 11 a.m. Sept. 5 and concludes at noon Sept. 6. The registration fee is $80. Registration closes Tuesday, Aug. 6.

For more information, go to z.umn.edu/CEC_Conference.