BROOKINGS, S.D. – Brent Comstock, a rural Nebraskan, is the founder of one of the most successful rural-based tech companies in the Midwest. He will be the keynote speaker during the 2019 Energize! Exploring Innovative Rural Communities Conference, held in in Lemmon April 30-May1.

“Successful rural communities are those who aren’t afraid to fail. They focus on getting things done for the betterment of the community,” said Comstock, 23, and a recent college graduate.

During the event, which is co-hosted by SDSU Extension Community Vitality Team and the community of Lemmon, Comstock will share his experiences and advice for other aspiring rural community leaders. The event includes several breakout sessions with more than a dozen presenters sharing community development efforts from across South Dakota.

Additionally, several resource tables will be set up during the conference to facilitate opportunities for participants to visit with resource providers.

Register soon

To register for the event, visit extension.sdstate.edu/events and search by the event name. The event begins at noon April 30, 2019 at the Beeler Center (202 Main Ave.) with a light luncheon, which is included in the registration fee.

To help cover costs, registration for the conference is $90. A special $40 rate is being offered for attendees under age 21 by using the promo code YOUTH.

Growing rural America

Comstock will speak at 1:30 p.m. MDT on the topic of “Connecting the Disconnected.”

His message will focus on building sustainable models of growth for rural America. Comstock will detail the steps he modeled to build his own company serving rural communities and address professional development opportunities, remote work, and ways to compete with larger cities. He will also highlight strategies for community leaders to engage, retain and attract youth, as well as share success stories of young people thriving in rural communities.

Two breakout sessions will also be held April 30 at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. with two additional breakout sessions held May 1 at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Breakout session topics will address community issues including money/funding, people, business and young adults.

Comstock will participate in the breakout session focused on young adults and will be joined by community leaders from Wall, Eagle Butte and Leola who will share their experiences involving youth in community boards and organizations.

The conference will conclude with a young entrepreneur panel discussion, which will include Comstock, and will focus on the topic “Choosing to Live Rural.” Lunch will be served before attendees depart for home.

Comstock encourages rural community members to attend the conference because of the opportunity it provides to connect with other key leaders. He said, “In city politics and in economic development, it’s easy to get caught up in the fray. But by building connections with other community leaders, they can tighten the overall fabric of rural America. Rural communities cannot grow alone; they need each other to thrive.”

Participating resource providers exhibiting during the event include: South Dakota 4-H, Bush Foundation, CASA of the Northern Hills, Dakota Resources, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Leadership South Dakota, Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc., SDSU Extension Community Vitality, South Dakota Ag & Rural Leadership, South Dakota Community Foundation, South Dakota Dashboard, South Dakota Department of Tourism-Agritourism, South Dakota Magazine, South Dakota Specialty Producers, and West River Business Service Center.

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