2023 AGENDA 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Only 100 will be able to attend pre-conference – sign up now!

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Registration at Mac’s Creek Winery & Brewery

3315 Rd 757, Lexington, NE 68850

About the Event

This event has limited capacity and will be capped at 100 registrants. Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to/from Mac’s Creek. We encourage carpooling.  Advanced registration is required.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

NTC Commissioners Meeting

12:00 p.m.

Lunch and Opening Remarks

12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Nebraska Made, Sustainably Crafted

Mac’s Creek Winery & Brewery has been family owned and operated by the McFarlands since 2001. They’ve been sustainably raising grapes since 2000 and regularly grow over 10 varieties for use in the creation of their wines. Mac’s Creek started brewing beer in 2019 as an extension of their brand. They now offer an array of drinking, dining, events, recreation and lodging options. Join us to hear about the business’ biggest challenges and successes from the family who started it all.

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Walking Tour of Mac’s Creek Winery

Enjoy a personalized tour of the winery, brewery, on-site lodging, and Sustainability

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Taste of Nebraska Social

Enjoy a sampling of Nebraska Wine, Beer & Spirits served alongside heavy hors d’oeuvres sponsored by Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild and Nebraska Wine and Grape Growers Association.

6:00 p.m.

Travel to Kearney

Dinner on your own

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Exhibitor Set up at the Younes Conference Center

416 W Talmadge Rd, Kearney, NE 68845. Tables will be assigned and indicated with the business name.

Thursday, March 2, 2023


7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.


Younes Conference Center South, 416 W Talmadge Rd,

Kearney, NE 68845

8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Conference Welcome


9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.

Keynote – Present Day Pioneering

Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants

Sarah Calhoun has two decades of leadership experience in both nonprofit and small business sectors, working in the outdoor education industry before founding Red Ants Pants in 2006. Tired of wearing ill-fitting men’s work pants, she designed pants that would fit, function and flatter working women. It is an unlikely story about pants, music, chainsaws, and possibilities in small-town Montana. It’s about entrepreneurship, working hard, and establishing a rural Foundation. It is a reminder that we can do big things in small towns. Calhoun’s grit has brought national recognition to her enterprises over the years. She was named the 2012 National Women in Business Champion for the Small Business Administration and the 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year for the State of Montana.

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Restaurant 101: It’s More Than Just Kettle Corn and Caramel Apples, Michael Holtzman, Profitable Food Facilities

Concept development is the foundation of your business, your success hinges on it! Whether you are starting from scratch or re-developing an existing food concept, setting yourself up to run a profitable operation is critical. In this session we will cover everything from branding basics, kitchen efficiency, menu engineering, and cost of goods. Through sound planning and proven methods your agritourism food and beverage operation can increase your revenue for many years to come.

Destination Building: Success Stories of Community Collaboration, Jessica Kraus of Lost Way Brewing & Madison Johnson of Nebraska Passport Program, and Brianne Schuler of Nebraska Craft Brewers Guild

Creating a destination that will inspire community members and attract visitors is no small task. Many businesses fail before they even get off the ground. But what if you didn’t have to go it alone? Join community and state leaders as they share their experiences strengthening communities and building better destinations through grassroots engagement and local partnerships.

Vertical Video: The New Way of Social Media, Hayden Pigott of Miles Partnership

Marketing expert Hayden Pigott will highlight how the preeminent social platforms of today, including TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter, are all about vertical-video content. She’ll reveal fundamentals and best practices for each platform’s unique audiences. Hayden will help you develop
your content from the ground up, like creating your first Reel.

Delegate to Accelerate, Joe Sova, Ideal Payroll Services

You will discover the best ways to streamline your mindset, step into your true leadership potential and ACTUALLY scale your business in a long-term sustainable way!

10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Networking Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

How to Increase Your Food & Bev Profits in One Season, Michael Holtzman, Profitable Food Facilities

Increasing your food and beverage profits over one season is not rocket science! By implementing time tested and recession proof measures, your agritourism F&B operations will add significant value to your farm and your bottom line. This session dives deep into the hot topics of managing the cost of goods and labor, staffing and retention, efficiency and throughput, as well as food trends and social media. It is a rapid-fire session you will not want to miss!

Creating Events Around Trails, Susan Rodenburg & Marie Gregoire

Join fundraising and event creation experts as they share their blueprints for creating bicycling events centered around trails. Marie and Susan will map out their successes in creating the Pie Ride and Goldenride, respectively.

Stop Lighting Your Marketing Dollars on Fire, Steve Maly of Maly Marketing

Put aside the sexy pitches and learn what really matters in marketing. This presentation will provide insights into the trends that consistently drive growth in your business, as well as the metrics and insights that I personally use to measure the success of my own marketing. Let’s get to the bottom of what actually works and leave the rest of the shiny but unproven objects behind.

Thinking Outside the Box: Small Businesses Strategy for Selling Goods Through Big Box Retailers, Nic Bianchi (Bianchi Candle Co.), Carole Sprunk (Clout Coffee), Neal Ely (Ely Farms)

GROW Nebraska members will share how they have successfully tapped into the corporate gift market, gotten their products in catalogs, and big box retailers.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


12:30 p.m – 12:45 p.m.

Tourism and Business

John Ricks Executive Director NTC 

12:45 p.m – 1:00 p.m.

Best Nebraska Local Product Award

GROW Nebraska 

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.

All Big Businesses Start Out Small – A Panel Discussion


Mac’s Creek Winery & Brewery Glenn Valley Foods (Jeff Bell), Dorothy Lynch (Jamie Trebec), Hyvee (Amy Wadstrom), Sarah Calhoun (Red Ants Pants)


1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Networking Break


2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions

Alternative Lodging Platforms Panel, with Jacob Romsa of Land Trust & Alison Lindsey of Harvest Hosts

Learn about the array of nonconventional lodging and accommodation platforms available today, what makes each unique, and which one might be best for your business goals!

Shine Bright! Start a Star Party, John Johnson & Jenna Bartja

Let the stars be the stars! Take away tips from longtime Nebraska Star Party planner John Johnson on how to start and scale your very own astronomy-focused event and learn about star-friendly outdoor lighting from dark skies advocate Jenna Bartja.

Using Video For Your Business, Alec Rahe, Frost Media

It’s often hard to know when the benefits outweigh the cost of hiring a creative service agency versus doing things in-house. This session will help take some of the guesswork out of your creative process. Learn the best questions to ask marketing agencies, level-up your website, and when it might be a good
time to seek out professional help.

Creating An Effective Social Media Strategy, Alyssa Wintz, Allo Communications

Is your business active on social media? Are you trying to find the balance between content creation and customer support? Not sure where to start? We’ve all been there. We’ll dive into the importance of using social media platforms as an avenue for marketing, targeting new customers, retaining current customers, sales, and customer support.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Networking Break

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Breakout Sessions

Building Community Support Around Trails, Jason Buss & Julie Harris

Representatives from Nebraska Trails Foundation and Bike Walk Nebraska will share case studies on how trails and trail development drive tourism. They’ll discuss best practices for identifying trail development opportunities, fundraising, creating a volunteer coalition, grant opportunities and more! 

Wooo!! Whitewater, Carson Rowh and Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning

Kearney and Norfolk both have developments underway to bring whitewater recreation opportunities to their respective communities. Learn how these exhilarating additions will provide fun for their communities while bolstering economic growth.

Tips to Making Your Business A High Growth Company Panel, Bob Haney (Heavenly Waffles), Erin Malzer (Fat Boys), Odee Ingersoll (NBDC), Jessica Campos (Center For Rural Affairs), Jim Reiff (Nebraska Enterprise Fund)

Learn from GROW Nebraska members as they share their tips for accelerated growth, including boosting customer service, being adaptable, and thinking ahead. Also join this breakout session to learn more from resources in how they will partner with you in developing and growing your business!

How to Create and Maintain an Effective Website that Really Works, Adam Kroft, redthread

Learn the do’s and don’ts of website creation and how to make your website work best for you and the customer. Plus, get tips and tricks to consistently get your website to appear at/near the top of search engine results.

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Q&A with Sarah Calhoun, Janell Anderson Ehrke, and John Ricks + Closing

5:00 p.m.

After Party Following the Conference

McCue’s Taproom, 2008 A Avenue, Kearney