Digital Economic Development

We believe in rural America

Everyone everywhere deserves the opportunity to participate in and benefit from our growing digital economy. Through our on-the-ground work with rural community leaders across the country, we are working to ensure that it’s possible.

As strategists, advocates, connectors, and champions, we collaborate with members of our Rural Innovation Network to launch initiatives and programs that support innovation, entrepreneurship, workforce development, and tech job creation in the places they call home.

Whether someone living in rural America wants to gain new skills and enter the digital workforce, or wants to take their successful careers home to the communities where they grew up, we are committed to creating local, place-based ecosystems that provide pathways and opportunities that lead to a more equitable and inclusive national economy.

And we are proud to highlight the ways different rural community leaders approach this work: The challenges they’ve faced, the progress they’ve made, and the stories of lives that have been changed because of their digital economic development efforts.

A street-level view of main street businesses in downtown Cape Girardeau with the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge in the background.
Digital economic development

We work with communities to identify local assets, opportunities, gaps, and challenges that factor into building digital economy strategies that support their future efforts.

A community of practice

We launched the Rural Innovation Network as a community of rural leaders working to advance digital economic development in small towns across the country.

Research, data and storytelling

We use research, data and storytelling to shift the national narrative about who lives in rural America and what is possible in rural America.

Rural startup investment

We make direct investments in early-stage rural technology startups through our seed fund, the CORI Innovation Fund (CIF).

Digital workforce development

We help our Rural Innovation Network members develop their local digital workforce through inclusive training programs that identify and support workers of all experiences.

Broadband advocacy

We advocate for rural places to get connected to the last mile, knowing fiber internet is the lifeblood of the digital economy, online learning, telehealth, and innovation.

Stories from across rural America

Diverse in geography, economic origin, and demographics, our Rural Innovation Network communities represent the full spectrum of rural America. Here are some of their stories:

Learn more
Emporia, Kansas

Portraits of a community: Emporia — Fiber broadband fuels possibility in the Flint Hills

Traverse City, Michigan

The Rural Edge: Traverse City — A thriving startup ecosystem with unbeatable quality of life

The Berkshires, Massachusetts

Portraits of a community: The Berkshires — Tech jobs bringing resilience to the local economy

By the numbers

$18.5M +

Communities in our Rural Innovation Network have raised more than $18.5 million in federal funding and matching dollars through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s highly competitive Build to Scale Venture Challenge Grant program.


While 13% of America’s workforce lives in rural America, only 5% of tech jobs are in rural areas. By 2030, we want rural America to have 13% of the nation’s digital economy jobs, distributed to match the gender and race demographics of each region.

Dia Gosh headshot in front of a blue background
Network testimonials

Developing vibrant digital economies in rural areas is more important now than ever, and rural communities can only be truly successful by working in collaboration with each other. The Rural Innovation Network is a great asset as we continue to learn from other communities around the nation.

Dia Ghosh, Ada Jobs Foundation
Ada, Oklahoma
Mildred Franco headshot in front of a dark background
Network testimonials

Being able to use my experience to design and launch an innovation hub— a learning and support center for entrepreneurs and digital skills, has been challenging and exhausting, but absolutely fulfilling! It’s exciting to be a member of the team working to implement the plan to revitalize Pine Bluff.

Mildred Franco, The Generator
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Steve Elias headshot in front of a dark background.
Network testimonials

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural community. This is why we are so happy to be partnering with the Rural Innovation Network on our entrepreneurship and small business development activities throughout Durango and our region.

Steve Elias, Fort Lewis College
Durango, Colorado

Support rural innovation

You can help us empower the local change agents and entrepreneurs driving innovation in the small towns and communities they call home.


Research and resources

From reports and case studies to interactive maps, data visualization tools, and webinars, we develop resources that help rural leaders advance their digital economic development efforts. We support policymakers, investors, nonprofits, academics, and journalists looking to better understand and share what’s happening in small towns and communities across the country.

Read the latest highlights