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Community and Economic Development Conference Schedule Set
South Dakota Ag Connection - 04/02/2021

The Midstates Community and Economic and Development Conference committee has announced the speaker lineup and schedule for its 2021 virtual event. The Midstates Conference works to advance community and economic development in the tri-state region (Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota) through a partnership of public, private and non-profit organizations.

This year's conference will take place on April 8 and 9. Registration is $25 for both days and all registrants will receive a zoom link prior to the event to join. Registration is open now and can be done online at

The Keynote speakers for the conference are Becky McCray and Deb Brown from SaveYour.Town. Six other speakers from the tri-state area are set to present, allowing participants the chance to learn from peers about practices that lead to success.

Highlights from the schedule of speakers, along with information on the presenters, is as follows:

April 8

9:05 a.m. -- Keynote from Becky McCray -- McCray lives in Hopeton, Okla., a town of 30 people, and believes small towns have a future. She watches the global trends in the economy, technology and society; then she delivers practical steps rural people can implement right now to shape the future of their town. McCray's career in small towns includes work as the owner of retail stores, city administrator, an executive with nonprofits and as a teacher of computer and business classes.

10:05 a.m. -- Rita Anderson, De Smet -- Anderson will help tell the story of how the De Smet Development Corporation stepped into action after the local newspaper closed. In the short time frame of six weeks, Anderson and the De Smet Development Corporation created a county-wide, all volunteer weekly newspaper to take the place of the void left with the closing of the 141-year-old predecessor.

10:45 a.m. -- Brad Feddersen, Anthon, Iowa -- Feddersen was one of the many farmers that began to struggle when the pandemic hit. Feddersen and his family needed to adapt to find alternative ways to have their beef processed and put into the hands of the consumers. Feddersen USA Wagyu was formed to brand the product as the family shifted to selling direct. Wagyu beef was new to the area and helped the Feddersens flourish by standing out in the marketplace.

11:15 a.m. -- Chelsey Morten, Hastings, Neb. -- Chelsey Morten decided to put matters into her owns hands after dealing with health issues. Morten began implementing ways to heal her body through food and lifestyle choices. Along the way, she fell in love with juicing and creating concoctions that brought health, healing and happiness to her life. This sparked Lemon & Co. Juicery, which carries on with the inspiration that all humans can indulge in delicious creations without guilt, symptoms or fear.

April 9

9:05 a.m. -- Michaela Brown, Le Mars, Iowa -- Brown spent 20 years singing across the country, so when combining that with living in the ice cream capitol of the world, it seemed fitting that Brown and her family set their sights on bringing music shows to their hometown. The Browns Century Theater opened in 2015 and the business has expanded much more than Brown ever thought possible. Despite shows being halted for a few months during the pandemic, Browns Century Theater continues to grow and provide tourism traffic and awareness to downtown Le Mars.

9:35 a.m. -- Christine Troshynski, O'Neil, Neb. -- Troshynski is part of a group that came together in 2017 to work on their shared vision of a local food hub. Thanks in part to finding many investors who could each afford to take a small risk, Wildflour Grocer was started. Wildflour Grocer is an indoor farmers market and community space that connects the community to the land, its food and each other. The endeavor has continued to grow with at least two new entrepreneurs joining each year and the willingness to adapt during the pandemic.

10:15 a.m. -- Anita Holan, Kimball -- Holan has been the Economic Development Director for the City of Kimball and the Kimball Economic Development Corporation for more than five years. Throughout that time, Holan has learned many lessons and become a leader in her community. Her story is one of perseverance, understanding the unique dynamics of small towns, and serving as a conduit between and among organizations, government and other factions, while understanding that economic development is a long-term proposition.

10:50 a.m. -- Keynote from Deb Brown, SaveYour.Town -- Brown grew up on a farm outside of Geneva, Iowa, population 141. Her first entrepreneurial venture was raising a hog. Since then, Brown has developed a wealth of experience including leading a small town chamber of commerce, foreign casualty insurance underwriting, bartending, retail management, selling knives and working with small towns. Brown has lived in tiny towns, small towns, small cities and a major metro city. Yet, she's come home to a small town, Webster City, Iowa. Deb is a relentless optimist and knows how to build possibility in your small town.

For questions relating to the conference, please reach out to Jill Sokness with Community and Economic Development, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (712) 223-9147 or

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