MSU Extension team recognized as national award winner

The MSU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities team was recognized by the National Association of Community Development Professionals, receiving the “Excellence in Teamwork” award.

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities logo with increasing height buildings showing the words 'learn,' 'share,' 'empower,' and 'grow.'

The Michigan State University Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) team was recognized as a national award winner for “Excellence in Teamwork” by the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) at their annual conference, held virtually in 2021. 

Adapted in 2012 from a previous iteration created in 2007, the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities program focuses on bringing innovation-minded communities throughout Michigan together to share resources and exchange ideas through the CEC annual conference.   

Parker Jones, an MSU Extension educator focusing on small business counseling, has served food, agriculture and natural resource entrepreneurs in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 2018. In this role, Jones is also a member of the award-winning CEC team tasked with organizing the statewide conference each October that welcomes representatives from several other states, in addition to delegates and presenters from Canada.

“We at MSU Extension are honored to receive this national recognition from NACDEP for the Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference. Since launching this program nearly a decade ago, we’re proud to have since seen this model replicated or explored by Extension systems in seven other states,” said Jones.  “We are eager to keep adapting this offering with our multi-state partners in order to best meet the needs of local communities everywhere.”

Created in 2003, NACDEP is an organization dedicated to improving the visibility, coordination, professional status and resource base of community and economic development Extension programs and professionals. The “Excellence in Teamwork” award has created a platform for community development work to be showcased in a professional setting beyond the state level, offering a platform for national distinction.

"One of the benefits of NACDEP membership is an opportunity to be recognized for outstanding work by your peers,” said NACDEP President Adam Hodges of West Virginia State University Extension Service. “The long-term benefit to Extension community development is an opportunity to learn from our peers. These award winners that are being recognized represent the best of the best and will provide new ideas for expanding our work across the nation."

NACDEP has over 350 individual memberships, representing more than 40 states and territories. Active members are currently employed as Extension professionals with at least a 25% Extension appointment with responsibilities or strong interests in community and economic development.

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