The Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities program is an entrepreneur-focused community development initiative started by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and originally established in Kansas.
The initiative assists rural entrepreneurs in their business ventures to move community development efforts to the next level via community based support for these entrepreneurs. In a regional effort to increase locally based entrepreneurship, four West Virginia communities have embarked on this three year initiative to advance their local economies through small businesses, along with two other teams in Eastern Kentucky and Southeastern Ohio, funded through an Appalachian Regional Commission POWER grant.
- Supports local community teams in connecting with and surveying local businesses, mapping internal and external business resources, and identifying business needs to increase venture success.
- Provides technical assistance for businesses, both one on one and in workshop format, development of a resource network, as well as business and community portfolios to be housed within the community for program sustainability.
Each community is paired with a Community Coach who will help support the team’s project development, planning, leadership development and achievement of success.
A Community Coach serves to:
- Assist with team collaboration and team building and support recruitment of new team members.
- Help identify and connect with local entrepreneurs to gathering business information and needs.
- Help identify, connect, and deliver business resources that are needed at specific business stages.
- Support community leaders and project team members to organize community workshops and trainings and begin development of resource networks.
- Connect community teams and leaders to peers and individual experts across the state to help learn from similar activities in other communities.
- Assist with business and community portfolios.
- Development of an Alternative Lending Guide provided to community local banks and credit unions.
- Establish and implement program sustainability plan.
Ongoing, flexible technical assistance is provided to individual community teams on an as-needed basis to move forward community business growth and resource connections.
- Flexibility to cater the resources directly to business needs
- Hands-on real-time advice, training, and coaching assistance from technical assistance experts from across the state
- Expert technical assistance may include: entrepreneurship coaching, legal business assistance, business real estate development, marketing, accounting, building construction needs
Alternative Lending Guide
Community Coaches are in the process of developing an Alternative Lending Guide that will be provided to community local banks and credit unions to give alternatives for securing funding support for small business owners that are turned down for loans.
Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities Newsletter
A quarterly newsletter of business and communities accomplishments is shared with stories from all four West Virginia communities, insights from program creator’s Deb Markley and Don Macke from the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, comments and quotes from community coaches, as well as stories from other participating states.
- Provide encouragement of business startup and growth through success stories happening around the state and Appalachian area
- Inspire hope in small business success in West Virginia
- Share business information for tourist and area attractions
- Keep participating communities and state up-to-date on activities
Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities is taking place in the West Virginia communities Madison/Danville, Grafton, Lincoln County, and Wyoming County.
In a regional effort to increase and sustain local economies, the Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities initiative is also being held in seven Eastern Kentucky communities and six Southeastern Ohio communities by leaders in their states.
Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities funders include the Appalachian Regional Commission, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, and BB&T.