NOVEMBER 27, 2012
Challenges and obstacles abound for entrepreneurs in the business world. SEDI’s 2012 Innovation Summit provided a venue for both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs to engage in learning and dialogue with policymakers, other successful entrepreneurs, and business vendors.
The event began with a morning presentation, The Power of the Entrepreneurial Class, by renowned entrepreneur and special guest, Burt Chojnowski. Mr. Chojnowski has extensive experience with successful business creation and the development of entrepreneurial communities. Through his morning presentation, Mr. Chojnowski provided a framework for attendees to create entrepreneurial communities in Northern Arizona, which included lessons on the importance of re-defining failure, establishing networks and mentorship opportunities, and the model of a city that has a very successful entrepreneurial community. Mr. Chojnowski offered Fairfield, Iowa, as an example of the economic and community development that can be attributed to the entrepreneurial class. The Fairfield model provided examples of social and civic entrepreneurs, alternative financing options, and networks of entrepreneurial support. The Power of the Entrepreneurial Class invoked a sense of inspiration that continued throughout the day.
The learning and dialogue continued with late morning events that included a Native American panel, policy makers’ question and answer session, an introduction to the IdeAZmap website, an entrepreneur and policymaker forum, and a MONSTER youth workshop, which was held offsite.
Following the morning events, a luncheon Innovation Awards ceremony provided recognition to the following recipients:
The Native American Business Award: The Shonto Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), which is a for-profit business incorporated on the Navajo Nation and with the State of Arizona. SEDC is a venture owned 100 percent by the community through stock ownership retained by the Shonto Community Governance (SCG) and the Shonto Community Development Corporation (SCDC). They were awarded the Native American Business Award for their outstanding rural electrification model that will provide the community with quality renewable energy systems to electrify homes.
The Business Success Award: NEST Energy Systems utilizes advanced solar and wind technologies to replace diesel generators for the military. They received the Business Success award for their outstanding work employing veterans and their support of Northern Arizona.
Green Initiatives Award: Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. provides accommodations and services in America’s National and State Parks and resort destinations. They received the Green Initiatives award for their effort to provide quality service to park visitors in the most sustainable ways possible, by trying to reduce their environmental footprint as it relates to energy, carbon emissions, waste, development, foods, transportation, and water.
Afternoon events followed the awards ceremony, and started with an entrepreneur boot camp led by Burt Chojnowski. At the boot camp, entrepreneurs learned important skills necessary for CEO’s to create and maintain successful businesses. Other afternoon events included a variety of innovation-themed workshops, a youth entrepreneurship workshop, and a resource fair where entrepreneurs had the opportunity to network with vendors offering entrepreneurial services. The event closed with a discussion, led by Burt Chojnowski, about ways to turn Northern Arizona into an incubator for entrepreneurial development. The discussion was followed by a reception with music from the band Stylus and additional networking opportunities.