Bridging rural America to the future of work.
Our comprehensive approach to digital economic development and entrepreneurship is rooted in the belief that there is incredible potential and talent in rural America. CORI’s work is focused on building a nationwide network of local economic change agents, using mapping tools and data analytics to highlight opportunities that exist in small towns, making direct investment in underserved rural entrepreneurs, and ensuring that all Americans regardless of geography, are connected online and able to participate in a 21st century digital economy.
New Models for Digital Economic Development
Strong digital economies will allow rural communities to chart their own courses toward prosperity. At CORI, we help small towns devise digital economy ecosystem strategies that center around growing the economy with digital jobs, technical skill-building, entrepreneurship, and smart amenities to attract and keep working-age adults. We call this our Rural Innovation Initiative (RII). As part of this work, we created the Rural Innovation Network (RIN), a growing consortium of rural change agents across the country committed to evolving their hometowns into thriving digital ecosystems.
We call this program the Rural Innovation Initiative - and you can learn details about our model and this area of work.
Mapping and Data Analytics in Rural America
To illustrate the challenges and opportunities that lie in rural America, we create mapping and data visualization tools that help policymakers, investors, nonprofits, academics, journalists, and local change agents better understand and share what’s happening in small towns and communities across the country. We understand deriving insights from data that cover rural areas takes special considerations due to the inherent challenges in coverage, granularity, and the relative sparseness of populations spread over large land areas. With our extensive knowledge of rural economies, markets, and trends, we help our partners design and build geospatial tools to implement rural engagement strategies. Our suite of maps continue to grow as new needs and opportunities emerge.
Entrepreneurial Investments In Rural Startups
Startups are the biggest drivers of jobs and wealth creation in rural areas; however, rural entrepreneurship rates have been declining, and less than one percent of VC investments go to rural areas. As a result, wealth and talent have continued to accumulate in cities, perpetuating the misconception that tech startups can’t be successful in small towns and communities. We are working to change this narrative, which is why we launched the CORI Innovation Fund (CIF), an Opportunity Fund with a focus on investing in rural startups located in Opportunity Zones across the country. The Fund seeks to find attractive technology-enabled operating businesses in rural geographies, which are under-served by traditional venture capital institutions. We are honored to identify, fund, and support the best tech entrepreneurs American small towns have to offer.
Broadband Strategies and Consulting
Rural connectivity continues to be a major obstacle across the country and poses widespread challenges that affect communities economically. By preventing small businesses from competing in the global marketplace, reducing the chances of remote workers, and creating a “homework gap” for students as more and more educational resources are only available online, limited broadband availability hinders rural America’s progress.
CORI partners with communities to understand whether a fiber network is feasible, and if so, works with communities all the way until they have an engineering design, business plan, and grant strategy in place to make it a reality. And with a deep understanding of the “so what” of broadband, CORI can help communities align stakeholders, bring in business, educational, and institutional partners, and plan the infrastructure with local digital employment, innovation, and entrepreneurship in mind.