Program Aims to Train Rural Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship seen as economic antidote to regional declines in farming and manufacturing.

Rural entrepreneurship boosters converged in Nebraska City last week for a teach-in designed to encourage growth in some of the most economically depressed parts of the country.

The program, E2: Energizing Entrepreneurship in Rural America, was sponsored by the Heartland Center for Leadership Development and the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and ran from July 7-10. Participants included 43 rural community leaders and developers from 10 states. Don Macke, Co-Director of RUPRI said that the 3-year-old program’s goal is to "train the trainers" at finding possible growth companies in places where traditional networking is next to impossible because of the large distances separating people.

"It’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack," said Macke. "There are growth entrepreneurs out there, but we have to go through a lot of groundwork to identify these folks." This includes finding community-minded "informants" who can suggest possible companies to contact. Once identified, these start-ups are matched with angel investors and mentors.

By: Max Chafkin

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