Press Release – Entrepreneurship Sessions 2021

Radically Rural Session Looks to Close the Entrepreneurial Gaps in Rural Places

Keene, NH – The recent pandemic-induced economic disruption has broadened certain gaps between rural communities and urban centers. Compounded by a lack of new business formation in rural America, this trend could exacerbate disparities in income, population densities, educational attainment, innovation, election politics and employment opportunities.

Radically Rural’s Entrepreneurship track takes aim at these gaps through sessions organized by track leaders Don Macke, vice president of e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems based in Lincoln, NE; and Sara Powell, Program Director at Hannah Grimes. The goal, the three say, is providing solutions, guidelines and models for community leaders, groups and individuals to create rich cultures of entrepreneurship, thriving local economies and vibrant communities in small cities and towns.

The Entrepreneurship Track leaders hope for attendance from entrepreneurs, economic and community development professionals, government leaders, business leaders, community and downtown advocates, entrepreneur support organizations, lenders and other business funders.

“Focusing on inequities in income in rural areas requires a wide range of individuals from many sectors to come together and talk about the systems and structures that need to be changed in this country,“ said Mary Ann Kristiansen, executive director for the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship;. The current post-pandemic reality makes this discussion all the more important to have right now.”

Here’s the program:
Growing Rural Entrepreneurial Ecosystems – Sept. 22, 10:30 a.m.
Lessons from Tupelo, MS to Ord, NE
Stories are powerful teaching tools, and when it comes to community transformation, learning from examples can be the best way to make effective change. Bob and Jean Stowell, husband and wife community leaders from Ord, NE, and Don Macke, curator of the Ord Story, will share lessons learned in building rural entrepreneurial ecosystems. Shared through the lens of Ord’s 50-year transformation from deep and hopeless decline to a thriving community today, session speakers hope to provide a blueprint for success in instigating change in rural areas nationwide.

Pitchfork Challenge – Sept. 22, 2:15 p.m.
It’s back! The Pitchfork Challenge provides a platform for rural entrepreneurs to participate in a business pitch competition. For participants, the event is the finale to a summer of coaching (provided by the Hannah Grimes Center and the N.H. Small Business Development Center) and provides money and momentum for their startups. This year rural startup entrepreneurs will vie for an award of $10,000. The intent is to open this event up to national applicants next year. The Pitchfork Challenge aims to be inspirational and helpful, with ideas for how rural communities can run their own challenges.

Creating Capital Access in Rural Communities – Sept. 23, 10:00 a.m.
Lessons from NetWork Kansas
NetWork Kansas is one of America’s longest-running, rural entrepreneurial ecosystems and is a statewide network of non-profit business-building resources. A key aspect of the foundation’s success is its ability to attract business capital. Imagene Harris and Steve Radley will discuss NetWork Kansas’ venture financing within its Entrepreneurial Communities Program, and will offer other capital-access strategies. The two speakers will detail how this model provides capital to rural entrepreneurs, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Sponsors