Local, regional and state presenters focus on opportunities

As interest in local foods, farm-to-table, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), and food security trends higher nationwide, Southwestern Illinois economic developers, entrepreneurs, and community developers continue to explore growth opportunities.  Confluence Business Advisors has teamed up with the Illinois Farm Bureau, USDA Rural Development, and the SBDC to host the region’s 2nd local food conference at SIUE on March 29, 2016 from 7:30am until 12:30pm. The cost is $25.00 and payable online or at the door.  The military admission is $15.00. Registration is required at ConfluenceBA.com with one click from the home page.

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According to event planner, Ron Tanner, principal at ConfluenceBA, “If you’re a farmer, nutritionist, food producer, entrepreneur, restaurant owner, caterer, economic developer, food retailer, food distributor, hospital, school administrator, senior living institution, government official, military veteran, or anyone interested in growing their business or community through a local food ecosystem, should get a front row seat!”

The event, titled Opportunities in Local and Regional Foods Conference, will feature speakers from the Illinois Farm Bureau, USDA Rural Development, and the Illinois-Metro East Small Business Development Center @ Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville,   Local speakers from the region will discuss their experiences. This may be your only occasion in this area to participate in a comprehensive overview of the trends and opportunities in local foods from people who live it. 

“To illustrate the growth opportunity in the local foods sector,” Tanner exclaimed, “3 of the featured speakers were attendees at last year’s event trying to find their place.  This year, they are on stage telling their story.  It’s an exciting place to be.” 

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Speakers include: Patrick McKeehan - SBDC/SIUE, Cynthia Haskins – IFB, Colleen Callahan – USDA, Matt Harris – USDA, Pam Dierks - Dierks Farms, Greg Brumitt - Active Strategies, Lauren Pattan and James Rogalsky - Old Bakery Beer Company, Kathleen Logan Smith - So IL Farm Beginnings, Karen Fraase – IL Dept. of Ag, Ron Tanner – Entrepreneur, Blaine Bilyeu - Papa's Pasture, Eric & Crystal Stevens - Grow Create Inspire/LaVista CSA.

The topics discussed will range from industry growth statistics and mainstream market fulfillment, to grant funding and resources, to local foods and craft brewing, market opportunities and challenges, active lifestyles + local foods = healthy economic and community growth, opportunities and training for new farmers and military veterans, and a new author emerges with tips on how you can get involved.

You can register and purchase event tickets online at ConfluenceBA.com.  You may pay at the door after pre-registration. Cash, checks and credit/bank cards are accepted.

For more information, contact Ron Tanner, Confluence Business Advisors, LLC, by phone at 618-570-9125, or online via ConfluenceBA.com.

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