Radically Rural – Remote Summit: Entrepreneurship sessions explore creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurship in a changed economy.

2020 is a year of change, upheaval, devastation, transformation and innovation. The tsunami-like impact of a global pandemic has delivered a changed economy. In rural areas, community members have the unique opportunity to contribute to the rebuilding process and a new future for their town or small city. 

Entrepreneurship track leader Kate Kirchhofer, program director for the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship, says that “we must look for ways to support non-traditional, entrepreneurial efforts in order to provide the resiliency, stability and inclusiveness needed for stronger-than-before rural communities.” She has planned three sessions at Radically Rural-Remote on Sept. 24, which this year is being held online starting at 8 a.m. with a keynote speaker and track sessions at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with a closing speaker at 4 p.m. 

Tools to Foster a Comeback and Build the Entrepreneurial Community You Want – 9 a.m.

It was germ-theorist Louis Pasteur who said, “the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything.” In similar fashion rural communities have a growing responsibility to set the conditions and provide the resources that will enable a thriving local economic “biome.” Every community has its unique assets and qualities, but how can these be diligently channeled for effective and productive use? Session panelists will discuss the strategies their small towns have used to support entrepreneurs and businesses by maximizing financial instruments designed for rural economies, utilizing empty storefronts for pop-up shops and more. 

The Pitchfork Challenge: A Pitch Competition with a Rural Fit – 11 a.m. 

It’s back! The Pitchfork Challenge provides a platform for local, 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 provides money and momentum for startups. There are two different tracks and awards: One for a rural startup business (less than three years old) and one to encourage the “idea phase” of business planning, by having aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas.  Cash awards are $10,000 and $1,000 respectively. This lively session will be both inspirational and helpful, with ideas for how someone can run a similar event in other communities. 

Rebuilding our Rural Communities, Co-operatively! – 2 p.m.

Co-ops are a growing trend in the United States, and one in three citizens are members. Co-ops are not just about natural products, bulk-buying, and organic food. The member-owned, democratically governed model is highly flexible and can address a wide variety of needs in rural communities, ranging from marketing for agricultural products and providing farm tools, to financial services, and even electric power. As communities work to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, the inclusive nature of the member-owned co-op model could be perfect for ensuring sustainability and resiliency in the future.  This session will provide insight into the new and innovative co-op models that are sprouting up all over the country. Participants will be encouraged to consider and discuss how this model could fit a multitude of different business-types and entrepreneurial ventures in their own communities. 

For more information on the Radically Rural – Remote Summit, or this year’s track themes, visit the event’s website at radicallyrural.org


Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship Sponsors