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International forum comes to Barton County
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An 80-acre swatch of rural Barton County will be the hub of some global discussion this week as the Dominican Sisters’ Heartland Farm hosts the Sirolli Institute international fall forum.
Enterprise facilitators from Australia, England and across the United States are gathering at the farm north of Pawnee Rock starting today for three days of training, said Karmi Green, of the Prairie Enterprise Project serving Barton Edwards and Russell counties. Green will be among those attending for additional education in assisting existing businesses and those wanting to open a business.
Facilitating the fall forum is Linda McCowan, Sirolli Institute project implementation specialist and master facilitator. “One thing that continues to surprise me is that Enterprise Facilitation works around the world: the Congo, Australia, Ecuador, Canada, Great Britain and in the USA. I think because there are passionate people everywhere who want to move an idea or product forward. That’s where we can help; we help identify the next step for entrepreneurs,” she said.
Enterprise facilitation is based upon a philosophy fathered by Ernesto Sirolli that encourages personal fulfillment through “good work,” McCowan said. “It defines good work as doing your best at your vocation of choice.”
Anywhere, at any given time, there are individuals who have energy, ideas and motivation for self-fulfillment but often lack the skills necessary to transform their dreams into rewarding and fulfilling enterprises, McCowan said. “In other words, they have a passion, but do not know how to direct it.”
Simply put, “we assist entrepreneurs to open businesses and keep them open,” Green said. “We hope to keep young families in our rural areas and realize the importance of making a living doing something you love to do.”
Entrepreneurs who have used the Sirolli model of Enterprise Facilitation typically achieve a greater percentage of sustainability and success, said Green, who has for four years worked with the regional network.
Prairie Enterprise Project began in July 2002 with a grant from Kansas Department of Commerce. Linda McCowan served PEP as their facilitator until August of 2007 when Karmi Green joined PEP. To date 536 clients have utilized the Sirolli model of Enterprise Facilitation with 100 new business starts, 15 business expansions and four businesses retained; thus creating 362 jobs. A volunteer board supports the clients as well as the facilitator.
Heartland Farm is a ministerial project of the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend. It started in 1987 and offers space for workshops and small conferences.
Green said the forum was held in St. Joseph, Mo., last year and at Heartland Farm in 2009. “We try to keep the location central.”