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New initiatives target building entrepreneurial capacity in rural areas

August 10, 2017

Over the last several months, economic development organizations, universities, and their partners have announced new efforts to create the building blocks for entrepreneurial development in rural communities. Examples include i2e announcing new efforts to expand entrepreneurial support services to rural communities in Oklahoma and three Indiana universities partnering to support startup growth in rural regions across the state. These efforts are intended to leverage the existing skills and resources of these organizations and reformulate them for regions typically left behind by the field.


i2e announced the expansion and reformulation of its Venture Assessment Program (VAP) to serve entrepreneurship in Oklahoma’s rural and Native American communities, including the tribal jurisdictional areas of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Muscogee (Creek) tribes. The VAP helps businesses explore the product/market fit of a new business concept that concludes with a report that recommends resources, programs and potential funding sources that will best suit the needs of the startup. The effort will serve 39 of the state’s 77 counties in Eastern Oklahoma through support from the Economic Development Administration. The reformulated effort’s intent is to support entrepreneurs that show the potential to create between 10 and 25 well-paying jobs.


In partnership with Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (Crane), three Indiana Universities (Purdue University, Indiana University, and Southern Indiana University) have joined forces to spur rural economic prosperity through tech startup development. Located at the WestGate Technology Park, the new partnership will serve tech startups in a rural tri-county region as well as other rural regions across the state. The partners will leverage their combined strengths to support rural startups by advancing education; research and development; and, technology commercialization. Purdue University has already committed to provide several services:

  • Intellectual property support and a WestGate Express License to expedite Purdue and NSWC Crane IP commercialization;
  • Entrepreneurs-in-residence to assist with startup creation; and,
  • FireStarter program to guide entrepreneurs through the ideation and startup development process.

Learn more at the SSTI’s 2017 Annual Conference

In addition to the need for support services, rural entrepreneurs also are plagued by a lack of access to startup capital. During a special SSTI conference session – Launching Funds in Under-Capitalized Regions – a panel of experienced investment professional will share their secrets on how to launch a successful startup fund in a rural community. If your organization serves a rural population, this is a cannot miss breakout session! 

Indiana, Oklahomaentrepreneurship, economic development, conference