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About the Project

In the United States, the primary responsibility for community economic development rests with each community, from a small rural town to a large urban center. Federal, state and other resources can help, but at the end of the day, each community must create a vision for the future, identify a strategy for development that builds on its unique assets and then act on that strategy to ensure that the community is succeeding economically and creating a quality place to call home.

Rural Action (Ohio), the West Virginia Hub and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky partnered with LOCUS Impact Investing and e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems to bring the Entrepreneurial Communities (e2) framework to coal impacted communities in Central Appalachia, with funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER initiative. The e2 Framework was designed and field tested to help communities discover their unique road to greater prosperity through supporting and growing entrepreneurial talent. To explore the framework in more detail, we suggest Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities: A Pathway to Prosperity.

Why Entrepreneurship?

There are many ways to grow a successful economy that creates jobs, businesses, career opportunities and rooted wealth. With healthy economic growth comes a greater capacity to support public services, education and quality of life investments important to create a more prosperous community. Entrepreneurs are at the heart of all economic development – they recognize opportunities and pull together the assets and resources needed to create new economic activity. The best prosperity strategy, particularly in small communities like yours, is to grow entrepreneurial talent by creating a pipeline of support that helps more people succeed at starting and growing private and social ventures.

Each state partner identified and invited specific communities or counties to participate in this initiative, providing coaching support to a community team. Each team, in turn, connected with entrepreneurs, identified energy areas for getting started, and built strong resource networks of support providers to bring the right resources to entrepreneurs at the right time. Communities teams also had an opportunity to engage in peer exchange with other communities.

In addition to the outcomes reported to ARC as part of this grant, we identified and captured common themes that emerged from this work – its successes and its challenges. This website shares what we learned and provides access to the resource library that guides this work.