SBDC director to participate in Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership program

BEMIDJI, Minn. (May 21, 2010) — Jorge Prince, director of the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center housed at the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation, has been named one of 32 participants in Class Six of the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program.

The program provides dynamic leadership development for active and engaged agricultural and rural leaders in Minnesota. Every two years, a class of approximately 30 participants is selected following an open application and interview process. The goal is to have two thirds of the participants be involved in production agriculture, with the remainder representing business, civic, government and organization leaders in agriculture and rural Minnesota.

“When I first became aware of the program, I was intrigued by the fact that it was a specific program targeted at developing rural leadership,” Prince said. “In the past, I have attended workshops and training on either rural issues or leadership development but this was the first time that I had encountered a program targeting both simultaneously.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Prince said. “I know that I will learn a lot from both the program itself and my fellow participants. As director of the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center, I am very much looking forward to bringing the knowledge I gain from this program back to our clients and using it to further advance small business issues in northwest Minnesota. I think this program can advance
my knowledge on rural issues and make me a better consultant and advocate on rural small business issues.”

The class will begin meeting in mid-November for the first of nine three-day seminars held at at locations across Minnesota. The program also features a five-day national study tour to Washington, D.C., and a 10- to 14-day international study tour before the program concludes in March, 2012.

“We put a lot of energy into making the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program a life-changing educational experience,” program leader Mike Liepold said. “Participants learn a tremendous amount from each of the in-state seminars and the national and international study tours. They also learn a great deal from one another. Looking at the members of Class VI, I’m confident they will add much to the experience for their fellow classmates.”

The Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program
The Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership Program experience is designed to deliver leadership development in context. It features personal skill-building and leadership study delivered in both academic and real-world settings. This approach allows the participants to apply concepts they are learning to the unique attributes, successes, challenges and current issues of the region where sessions are held, as well as their own commnuties. The goals are immediate applicability of seminar content in the leadership roles the participants already already play, and preparation for future leadership roles.

The program is privately funded. Participants pay a fee, which covers approximately one-third of the cost of operating the program. The remainder is raised though investments by individuals, businesses and foundations. The program also is a public/private partnership, organized within the Southwest Minnesota State University Foundation, and has a board of directors. While it is privately funded, Southwest Minnesota State University administers the program and the University of Minnesota Extension develops and coordinates the delivery of the curriculum.

New cohort classes begin in even-numbered years, with applications are taken in the first three months. Candidates are interviewed and participants are selected in the spring, with seminars beginning in November.

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