Entrepreneurship is a vital rural economic development strategy. There are several reasons for the increasing interest in entrepreneurship especially in rural regions and communities.
- Traditional approaches to recruitment and retention are just not working for most places, and leaders are looking for viable alternatives.
- There is a growing body of evidence on the critical role that entrepreneurs and small businesses play in driving local and national economies.
- The structure of rural economies is essentially composed of small enterprises, which are responsible for most of the job growth and the innovation. Moreover, small businesses represent an appropriate scale of activity for most rural economies.
RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
The RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship provides communities across rural America with the resources for implementing entrepreneurship as a core economic development strategy. The Center, located jointly in North Carolina, Nebraska, and Missouri, applies practice-driven research, development tools, and consultation services in participation with many partners – rural communities, development practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.
Created in 2001 with founding support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and RUPRI, the Center is an outgrowth of the Rural Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI) supported by the Kauffman Foundation, the National Rural Development Partnership, Partners for Rural America, and the Nebraska Community Foundation.
The Center's mission is to enable every rural resident to achieve his or her full entrepreneurial potential. To achieve this mission, the Center's work focuses on three key concepts – study, learn, and engage. The Center actively studies entrepreneurship development through practice-driven research in collaboration with a wide range of partners. Building on this knowledge base, the Center creates opportunities for community leaders and policy makers to learn about rural entrepreneurship through training, an electronic newsletter, development tools, and other mechanisms for learning in person and virtually. The Center also engages community and regional leaders by bringing new models, such as HomeTown Competitiveness, and new tools, such as Transfer of Wealth, directly to rural regions in a more hands-on, strategic approach. By applying these three concepts, the Center is committed to connecting economic development practitioners and policy makers across rural America to the resources needed to energize entrepreneurs and to implement entrepreneurship as a core rural economic development strategy.