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For the second annual Radically Rural summit this fall, the director of a Texas-based think tank and an expert on rural communities will deliver the conference’s closing remarks.

Hosted by The Sentinel and the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship, Radically Rural is a two-day convention that explores the qualities and challenges of small-town communities. Last year’s inaugural summit drew more than 500 attendees from 21 states.

Slated for Sept. 19 and 20 and held in several venues across downtown Keene, this year’s event will close with remarks from Art Markman, executive director of the IC² Institute, a research unit of the University of Texas at Austin.

Founded in 1977 and dubbed a “think and do” tank, the IC² Institute “works to advance the theory and practice of entrepreneurial wealth creation,” according to its website. The institute encompasses programs such as the Austin Technology Incubator and Global Commercialization Group, which delivers business training and development around the world.

Markman became executive director six months ago. Since then, the institute has shifted its focus “to look at economic development and entrepreneurship in rural areas and small isolated cities,” Markman wrote in an email Thursday night.

The institute has conducted research in Keene in recent months, as well as work in cities as large as Boise, Idaho, and as small as Kerrville, Texas, which has a population similar to Keene’s. The team has also researched rural communities in Arkansas, Louisiana and other parts of Texas.

With its research, IC² studies communities and offers information about what might help them achieve their goals, from attracting a young labor force to increasing economic development, based on the institute’s observations.

In addition to delivering the summit’s closing remarks, Markman is slated to lead a Friday session from 1 to 3 p.m. entitled “Bridgeable Gaps: The Fuel for Rural Change.”

Go to radicallyrural.org for more information about Radically Rural or to register for the summit. Early bird tickets are on sale through June 14.

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SierraHubbardKS.