the last year, the Center on Rural Innovation and Rural Innovation Strategies,
Inc. have been working with nine participants in the 2019 Rural Innovation
Initiative to help them realize their vision for creating resilient,
innovation-based jobs. The pace of rural economic innovation is accelerating
and we are ready to move forward to expand the network.
Today, we are announcing the start of a
competitive application process for more rural communities to join the
initiative to advance the creation of digital jobs and entrepreneurship
strategies across America. Applications must be submitted by November 18, 2019.
Details about the initiative and application are available here.
communities will help us rewrite the rural narrative, thanks to our partnership
with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and funding from
the Siegel Family Endowment and Walmart.
Eligible communities are designated rural counties, according to U.S. Census definitions, or represent regional efforts that cover a majority rural area. Successful communities will ideally have a combination of the following attributes:
- Existing high-speed broadband;
- Significant portions of the community located in or near Opportunity Zones;
- Partnersh with a 4-year endowed residential college or university campus; and
- Committe local leadership and a willing non-profit organization and/or local and regional government prepared to raise matching funds and lead the initiative.
Some communities have already begun building their entrepreneurship capacity and others are well-qualified but need more time to develop their strategy. We will work with both types of communities, providing a fast-paced capacity building sprint with intensive, on-site technical assistance for communities ready to prepare for 2020 grant applications. Communities that need more time will work with our team of rural economic experts to build their capacity and prepare for future funding opportunities.
New participants will join the nine existing communities that were selected in February of 2019 from 130 interested communities. Three of the 2019 cohort were selected this summer to receive highly competitive U.S. EDA Regional Innovation Strategies Program – i6 Challenge Grants.
Communities are encouraged to visit the website and to explore the Center on Rural Innovation’s Rural Opportunity Map to confirm whether your community is in an Opportunity Zone. They should express interest in the program as soon as possible by filling out a brief questionnaire. RISI will host a webinar on October 28th at 2 p.m. ET to provide additional information. Interested communities are encouraged to register for the webinar here. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through November 18, 2019.