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Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural Main Streets



Clarion County, PA has been selected as one of 30 communities nationwide, including Puerto Rico, to participate in Main Street America’s Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural Communities Pilot Program, supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, in partnership with Forward Cities. This program aims to engage, activate, and empower entrepreneurial talent in rural communities so that everyone sees themselves reflected on their Main Street. Participants will identify barriers preventing entrepreneurs from starting or growing local businesses and develop action items to address them.

Along with joining a cohort of national thought leaders and partners, communities will receive a $5,000 seed grant and $1,500 toward professional development certification with the International Economic Development Council. There is also an opportunity for communities to receive additional funding as the program expands.

Main Street America will work closely with the Main Street director in each of the selected communities to gain insight into the state of small business on the ground — the support, resources, and opportunities available to aspiring and existing local entrepreneurs. Members from Main Street America will visit each community in person and provide virtual programming support for selected communities to implement ecosystem building practices for rural communities and entrepreneurs, along with a ‘train-the-trainer’ process for Coordinating Programs to expand the ecosystem-building approach to other Main Street programs within the state or region.

Over the next few months, CCEDC will be working to collect feedback from local entrepreneurs and small business owners through an anonymous survey. The feedback collected in this survey will help inform the growth and expansion of support for local entrepreneurs in Clarion County, PA.