Ends on

Thank you for attending the Phase 1 workshop in Cloquet and Red Wing, Minnesota on October 10 and 11 respectively for building Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (E3) in Rural Communities.

Main Street America is leading Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem work to scale and expand program offerings as part of a local Main Street program’s overall economic vitality activities. Especially in rural economies, the value of place as part of economic development and the ability to leverage our downtowns as centers for human and place-based capital, are critical for building and supporting small businesses at all parts of their life cycle. Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems operate in service of local wealth creation, a framework focused on leveraging existing assets to create sustainable and resilient wealth that is rooted locally. 

Main Street America (MSA), in partnership with Forward Cities, invites you to apply for Phase 2 of our Pilot Program, supported by the Kauffman Foundation.

Communities will be selected through this application to implement MSA’s complete E3 development process utilizing 7 distinct input tools (below), complete with on the ground technical assistance, virtual programming, and implementation dollars. 

Input 1: Community Pre-Survey and Demographic Profile

Input 2: Image Shift and Communities of Participation

Input 3: Virtual Focus Group Discussions (Entrepreneurs and Key Partners)

Input 4: Business Lifecycle Inventory

Input 5: Ecosystem Audit

Input 6: Organizational Roles Matrix

Input 7: Ecosystem Development and Implementation Plan

Eligibility Considerations:

MSA will support 3 rural communities with a population of 50,000 or below


October 16, 2023: Application is Live

December 1, 2023: Application Deadline

December, 2023: Community Selections and Phase 2 Pre-Work

January 2024: Continued Pre-Work for Phase 2

February 2024: E3 in Rural Communities Program Begins

July/August 2024: E3 in Rural Communities Program Wrap Up 


Applications will be evaluated through 5 criteria:


  • The application demonstrates a strong commitment to the pilot program's mission and goals, emphasizing their passion and motivation for working with their community and supporting local small businesses and entrepreneurs. 


  • The application shows a clear understanding of the needs and challenges faced by local small businesses and entrepreneurs. They provide strong evidence in support of how the E3 program can address these needs and challenges. 


  • The application outlines how their participation will positively impact their community through defining and building an equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem, and through addressing opportunities for growth and improvement. 


  • The application demonstrates the ability to leverage partnerships, resources, and relationships effectively to support the program's mission and goals, especially in reaching and uplifting all potential and current entrepreneurial talent in the local community. 


  • The application is forward thinking and provides a strong answer for the long-term sustainability of the work, including strategy if a change in leadership occurs and opportunities to increase community engagement and develop relationships.  


We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.