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SMIF seeking applications for program

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is seeking applications for the second round of its rural entrepreneurial venture program, which supports long-term economic growth, according to a press release. Three communities will be selected for this three-year program. Communities with populations of 5,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region are eligible to apply.

The REV program helps rural communities create more vibrant economies by finding and supporting local entrepreneurs — from business startups to existing businesses that want to grow. Each community will develop a leadership team and be matched with a coach to guide them through goal setting and action steps. They will also participate in cohort learning with other REV communities.

“SMIF recognizes the need and opportunity to approach economic development from a systems-perspective so that even our smallest communities can be resilient in the face of inevitable challenges,” said Pam Bishop, vice president of economic development at SMIF. “We look forward to supporting three new small towns in this innovative way.”

The inaugural REV program launched in 2018 and supported the communities of Blue Earth, Lake City, Lanesboro, Le Sueur, Spring Grove and Spring Valley. A variety of approaches to economic growth have been implemented in these communities, including business succession programs and youth retention initiatives.

The REV model is based on the e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems framework which is hosted by NetWork Kansas, formerly the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. The framework has a proven track record of accelerating entrepreneurial activity in rural communities. SMIF also partners with Region Nine Development Commission and University of Minnesota Extension for coaching support. This program is made possible by support from the Blandin Foundation.

SMIF invites all interested communities to join them for an informational webinar at noon on July 21. Applications are due Sept. 1. The three REV communities will be announced in November and will begin work in January.

For more information on SMIF’s rural entrepreneurship venture program, visit smifoundation.org/rev or contact Pam Bishop at pamb@smifoundation.org or 507-214-7013.