Brookings Economic Development Corporation has received a USDA Rural Business Development Grant to hold a day-long event that will help existing businesses and entrepreneurs remain competitive in the next generation economy.  

The Brookings Innovation Summit on Oct. 17 will feature keynote speaker Mitch Ditkoff. Ditkoff is an award-winning author and co-founder of “Idea Champions,” a consulting and training company that helps organizations increase their core competency of innovation. The extensive list of companies Ditkoff has worked with includes AT&T, General Electric, Good Year, Fox, Coca-Cola and Kraft.    

“We are honored to receive this grant and are very excited to bring a renowned global speaker of Mitch’s caliber to Brookings,” said Jennifer Quail, BEDC’s director of entrepreneur support. “His keynote and break-out sessions will give local businesses the tools to immediately enhance their culture and create sustainable, innovative work environments that lead to improved profitability and success.” 

Because of the $35,000 grant, the registration fee for the Brookings Innovation Summit is only $25, according to Quail. “USDA supports and encourages our efforts to develop impactful initiatives such as the Summit that result in economic growth and development in rural areas of the country,” she said.  

Businesses and individuals who attend the Summit will have the option to participate in a year-long cohort designed to further advance innovation, create and develop growth strategies and improve internal processes. 

“Retaining our existing economic base is critical, but growth and diversification through innovation is paramount as rural communities like Brookings look towards the next generation economy,” Quail said. 

“Participants of the Brookings Innovation Summit will gain the tools and resources they need to immediately be a positive force for innovation and change within their businesses.”  

Ditkoff will also host a workshop for South Dakota State University designed to help leadership teams more effectively cultivate creativity and innovation among employees and students. 

“The success and vitality of the university depends on our ability to be creative and entrepreneurial,” said Daniel Scholl, vice president of research and economic development at SDSU. “We would like to thank BEDC for this tremendous opportunity. Creativity is one of our core values. We are excited to become more effective at helping our people to harness their creativity for innovative research, education and outreach.”

BEDC received a similar grant for $60,000 in 2015 to create South Dakota’s first community makerspace and a $91,000 grant last year to create a commercial kitchen. These initiatives, along with the Summit, are examples of the many events and programs available for entrepreneurs and startups through BEDC’s Startup Hub. These resources have helped establish Brookings as one of the top communities for entrepreneurs in the nation, BEDC reported.  

The Brookings Innovation Summit will be held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Wilbert Square Event Center. The $25 registration fee includes lunch, and businesses of all sizes and from all industries are encouraged to attend. Interested individuals can register at or contact Quail at 697-8103 or for more information.

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