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Community Supported Enterprises: Lessons Learned and Opportunities to Preserve or Enhance Social Capital

Rural areas, especially those facing economic stagnation or slow growth, often find that essential businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops that provide employment plus enhance social capital are threatened by market declines. Some communities have turned to community supported business (CSE) approaches where groups of residents invest in these establishments through nonprofits, LLCs, or cooperatives in efforts to restart or retain the businesses. This webinar examines lessons learned by rural communities in Illinois, Vermont, and Wisconsin and asks whether a country store model that has been especially successful in Vermont might be in the future of rural areas, in the Midwest.
The webinar will discuss experiences with CSEs, organizational structures, and successes or limitations followed by a discussion of ways in which Extension and other groups could implement the concepts in their localities. 

Presented by: Norman Walzer, Ph.D. Norman is a Senior Research Scholar in the Center for Governmental Studies at Northern Illinois University. He is a past-president of the Community Development Society and regularly contributes to the community and economic development literature. In collaboration with Michigan State University Extension and UW-Extension, he recently organized a NCRCRD project that examined how community supported enterprises (CSEs) work across the U.S. and their potential for building and enhancing social capital.

There is no registration and no fee for attending this webinar.   To join the webinar(s) go to, “enter as a guest” is by default already chosen. Type your name into the text box provided, and click on “Enter Room”. You are now in the meeting room for the webinar. To facilitate Q&A’s, participants submit questions/comments via the Chat Function in Adobe Connect.

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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