Rural-based alternative energy opportunities, entrepreneurship and next-generation food start-up businesses will be part of the Envision08 Conference scheduled for April 23-25 at the Marriott Rivercenter in downtown San Antonio.

Attendees will learn how to identify the next big business opportunity and develop strategies to overcome competitive challenges, as well as hear the first-hand experiences of already successful entrepreneurs, said organizers.

Among other topics, the conference will address next-generation business opportunities in rural entrepreneurship and natural resources, including renewable energy, said Dr. John Nichols, department head for agricultural economics at Texas A&M University.

“We will be presenting rural entrepreneurship topics in a context of nationally known and respected entrepreneurial leaders and business experts who are not typically featured at agriculture conferences,” Nichols said.

The conference, developed by the Texas A&M University’s Center for New Ventures & Entrepreneurship, will bring together the best minds in the nation to give participants practical answers needed to compete and “claim victory” in the marketplace, he said.

“Envision08 will give entrepreneurs and business leaders a more holistic view of business and a deeper appreciation of what goes into making a company successful,” said Richard M. Scruggs, director of the center. “Participants will be inspired and encouraged by learning from those who have created their own successful companies.”

General session speakers will include Marcus Buckingham, researcher with the Gallup Organization and bestselling author on business management; Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures, author and columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine; Steven R. Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and other bestselling books; and Peter W. Schutz, former CEO of Porsche A.G., and now author, lecturer and co-founder of Harris and Schutz Inc.

Rural entrepreneurship-related sessions will include: -- “Rural-Based Alternative Energy Opportunities: Land-based and Wind,” a panel discussion moderated by Joe Outlaw, Texas AgriLife Extension Service economist, with discussion leaders James Fuqua, cattle entrepreneur, and Jeff Plowman, Austin Biofuels. -- “New Faces of Natural Resource-based Rural Entrepreneurship,” facilitated by Greg Clary, AgriLife Extension economist, with discussion leaders Carol Davis, Blisswood Bed-Breakfast & Spa and Don Pullum, Sandstone Cellars Winery. -- Opportunities in Next Generation Foods -- Local, Organic and Natural. Session content will include how to build brand equity quickly, create a competitive difference, and recruit and keep top talent.

Nichols said those who would benefit from attending the conference include key executives and decision-makers in entrepreneurial and high-growth companies, members of corporate and local government business development teams, including those in rural and semi-rural areas, consultants, advisors, and university faculty interested in entrepreneurship.

“Envision08 will give participants the opportunity to learn from top experts and expand their personal network,” he said. “They will learn on at least three levels: company leadership, company performance and personal leadership.”

Conference registration includes access to all general sessions and workshops, all meals during conference hours, entertainment and networking sessions, and access to business development resources available through the Texas A&M Center for New Ventures & Entrepreneurship.

The number of conference participants and rooms at the Marriott Rivercenter are limited so participants are asked to register as soon as possible, said event organizers.

Organizers added that the weekend after the conference will be the final weekend of Fiesta San Antonio activities, and the hotel has a limited number of rooms available at a special rate for participants wanting to stay over.

More information on the conference and registration can be found at http://www.envision08.com .

To become a sponsor or exhibitor, contact Don Newell at 832-746-7650 or exhibitor@envision08.com .