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Announcing the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Rural Main Streets Program Grantees


March 27, 2023 | Announcing the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems for Rural Main Streets Program Grantees |

Main Street America is pleased to announce the grantees of the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural Main Streets Program, supported by the Kauffman Foundation

This program leverages MSA’s past work in ecosystem building and combines organizational partnerships with Forward Cities for greater equity and inclusiveness, as well as professional development training in entrepreneurial-led development through the International Economic Development Council

“Rural communities across the country are confronting the difficult task of transitioning their primary economies away from extractive industries, agriculture, and manufacturing,” says MSA’s Chief Program Officer Matt Wagner, Ph.D. “This decades-long challenge has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a devastating and disproportionate impact on women and BIPOC entrepreneurs in rural communities. Holistic, place-based, equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems offer a promising path forward for these communities as a core economic development strategy. However, much of the current work on equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem development nationally is focused on large cities. There is a need to deliver these services to rural communities, and Main Street America is uniquely positioned to address that need in partnership with its state and regional coordinating programs.”

In selecting grantees, priority was given to applicants who demonstrated a sincere interest and commitment to expanding their own internal entrepreneurial ecosystem programming, coupled with a lack of resources and staffing to start and scale this work in their communities.

All state or regional Main Street America Coordinating Programs with at least three Main Street communities with populations of 50,000 or less (as determined by the U.S Census) were eligible to apply. 

The selected Coordinating Programs are:

•    Main Street Arkansas 
•    Main Street Iowa 
•    Kansas Main Street 
•    Kentucky Main Street 
•    Rethos | Minnesota Main Streets 
•    Missouri Main Street Connection 
•    Nebraska Main Street Network
•    Oklahoma Main Street 
•    Puerto Rico Main Street 
•    Washington State Main Street Program 

Each participant will receive a one-day statewide workshop on Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem building open to any rural community to attend, the  opportunity for in-community and virtual programming support for three selected communities to implement ecosystem building, along with a ‘train-the-trainer’ process for Coordinating Programs to expand the ecosystem-building approach to other Main Street programs within the state or region. 

Visit this page for more information about Main Street America’s work on developing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.