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Digital Economic Development

We believe in rural America

We are capacity builders, advocates, connectors, and champions. We empower rural community leaders working to create thriving digital economies that support tech-based entrepreneurship and job creation in the places they call home. Through a comprehensive approach to digital economic development, we help these leaders prove what’s possible in rural America. We do this through:

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

Helping communities identify local assets, opportunities, gaps, and challenges that factor into building thriving digital economies.

A rural community of practice

Growing a national network of committed rural leaders who are working to advance the economic future of small-town America. This is our Rural Innovation Network.

Rural mapping tools and data

Building rural mapping tools and assembling data to ground the work of our partners and supporters.

Investment in rural entrepreneurs

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

Future of work

Developing a digital workforce in rural America through training programs that identify and support workers of all backgrounds and experiences.

Rural broadband

Advocating 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

Our Rural Innovation Network is home to innovators and committed change agents working to advance the economic future of small-town America. Here are some of their stories:

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Red Wing, Minnesota

Portraits of a community: Red Wing — The digital economy arrives on the banks of the Mississippi.

Portsmouth, Ohio

Portraits of a community: Portsmouth — A former steel town forges its path into the digital economy.

Waterville, Maine

The Rural Edge: Waterville — A New England mill town that's finding a new way forward.

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.

15%

While 15% 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 15% 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

Join our movement of rural advocates and supporters

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

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Get resources from our experts

From readiness assessments and community toolkits to interactive maps, data visualization tools, reports, and dashboards, we develop resources that help rural change agents advance their 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