Combining its expertise in entrepreneurship and peer learning, the Edward Lowe Foundation hosts retreats for two key audiences: leaders of second-stage businesses and leaders of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). Curriculum varies depending on a group’s specific needs, but typically addresses the unique challenges of second stage and enables participants to sharpen leadership skills, think differently and make faster, better decisions.

Get Smarter …

  • Get Smarter

    At Big Rock Valley (BRV), our 2,600-acre learning campus, the foundation hosts a diverse retreat program for growth-oriented entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them. (We also conduct training retreats for Economic Gardening® practitioners and facilitators who lead PeerSpectives roundtables.)

    Our educational series for entrepreneurs, Leader Retreats at BRV, targets founders, owners and key executives of second-stage businesses. These companies typically have 10-99 employees with annual revenue ranging from $1 million to $50 million — and have a desire to grow larger.

    Leader Retreats at BRV help entrepreneurs address the unique challenges they encounter during second stage, such as building a strong management team, developing internal infrastructure and managing organizational change. The goal is to help second-stagers think strategically — and learn how to transform that strategic thinking into action.

    Because working with second-stagers is a completely different ballgame from helping startups or small businesses, we also host programs for entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs). These sessions help participants understand second-stagers and deliver the kind of tools and resources their clients need to continue growing. Participants also learn how to work with other ESOs to learn best practices, leverage resources and build a supportive entrepreneurial culture throughout their region.

    In both our entrepreneur and ESO retreats, there is an emphasis on peer learning. Curriculum is relevant and hard-hitting, and participants walk away with new insights, tools and techniques that will enable them to be more dynamic, effective leaders.

    Learn more …

  • Why It’s Important

    Today more communities are turning to entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy. And on the entrepreneurial continuum, second-stage companies stand out because of their contributions to job creation. Indeed, between 1995 and 2013 about 13 percent of U.S. companies were second-stagers; however, they represented 35 percent of all jobs and sales, according to As these companies grow, they’re adding diverse, high-quality jobs, increasing the flow of tax dollars, and reinvesting in their communities in a variety of ways.

    While there are plenty of programs for startups, when entrepreneurs enter second stage, relevant resources dry up. This is partly due to a lack of understanding about what second-stagers really need and how to work with them — something we’re trying to change. Unlike startups, second-stagers have proven products and services in place. They’re striving to expand into new markets, refine their business model and hone their competitive edge.

    In addition to helping second-stagers with these strategic challenges, our retreats forge critical connections. Because second-stagers are so busy trying to grow their businesses, they don’t have time for traditional networking and educational events and feel isolated. Our retreats introduce entrepreneurs to other second-stagers. For many, this is the first time they feel they’re in a trusted environment and can talk openly about their businesses. It’s like discovering their long-lost tribe.

  • Implement Programs

    Because we’re structured as an operating foundation (as opposed to a grant-giving foundation), groups that attend leader retreats at Big Rock Valley (BRV) must be aligned with our mission and guidelines. Individual entrepreneurs or business owners can attend a retreat when they are affiliated with an entrepreneur support organization (ESO). ESOs can include chambers of commerce and other membership organizations, universities, small business development centers, technology councils and economic-development agencies. The common denominator: They are groups or individuals working to accelerate the success of second-stage entrepreneurs.


    Retreats usually span three days and two nights. Costs vary, but average about $700 per person for nonprofit groups and $1,500 per person for for-profit groups. These fees cover lodging, facilitation and meals.

    Once you’ve signed up for a retreat, our team will help you select the curriculum that best fits your group’s desired outcomes. (We encourage you to plan ahead. Although we offer retreats throughout the calendar year, our schedule typically sells out six months or more in advance.)


    For more information or to sign up your group for a retreat, contact Rita Phillips.

What People are Saying

It’s always hard to take that much time out of your schedule, and I didn’t know what to expect. But the retreat was spectacular. The facilitators were excellent, and I was with a great group of CEOs. The conversations I’ve had with them both at and after the retreat are going to change our company.
Brian Curry, president and CEO of PhysioGenix in Milwaukee, Wis.

Retreat Team

  • George Nelson

    George Nelson

    George is the newest addition to the retreat team, and he brings a great new vibe along with a cool appreciation for history. If you have any questions about retreats contact George.

  • Rita

    Rita Phillips

    If you need information about retreats or your PeerSpectives training registration, contact Rita.

  • Dino Signore

    Dino Signore

    As our Manager of Entrepreneurial Education, Dino has been providing insights to CEOs and peer groups for over 12 years. Contact Dino.

"As a general rule, even a dumb tomcat know when a female is in heat. "
— Edward Lowe