For immediate release
November 9, 2023

HARTLAND, Vt. — It was announced today that the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) has secured a Capital Challenge grant via the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale program. 

The $520,758 provided by the Capital Challenge Deploy grant and matching funds will go toward creating the Green Mountain Launchpad, a regional tech startup catalyst supporting the deployment of the Green Mountain Accelerator Fund, a $3 million pre-seed investment fund for rural Vermont startups capitalized by the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). 

Together, these funds aim to fill an early-stage investment gap in the rural startup ecosystems across five rural Vermont communities: Rutland; Windham County; Springfield; Randolph; and Caledonia County. 

“This funding will allow CORI to help scale tech startup activity across the region,” said Matt Dunne, founder and executive director of CORI. “By ensuring rural founders, and especially female founders, are given the support and capital they need to succeed, we are building critical pathways to stronger local economies and stronger communities.” 

CORI will use the Build to Scale Capital Challenge award to ensure rural founders, particularly female founders, can engage the Green Mountain Accelerator Fund by connecting startups to pro-bono legal and financial accounting assistance, potential investments from local angel investors, and pitch development assistance. By the end of the three-year award window, CORI aims to connect 30 local startups with opportunities to access much-needed capital.

“We are excited to have these resources available to support the growing tech startup ecosystem in rural Vermont,” said Jay Bockhaus, managing partner of the CORI Innovation Fund (CIF). “The EDA Build to Scale funding and the SSBCI fund are important catalysts to help rural tech startups thrive in Vermont and create job and economic growth in the state.”

To fulfill the goals of the Green Mountain Launchpad project, CORI is partnering with CIF, Vermont Law and Graduate School, Merritt & Merritt, Gallagher, Flynn, & Co., Black River Innovation Campus, Chamber and Economic Development of the Rutland Region, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Northeastern Vermont Development Association, Do North Coworking, and the Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation. 

The 2023 Build to Scale program awarded 60 grants to applicants from 36 states. The grants represent a combined $53 million in federal investment. CORI was one of just 10 rural applications to receive the award this year. 

About the Center on Rural Innovation

The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) is a national nonprofit committed to advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive tech economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation. Established in 2017, CORI is at the heart of a dynamic social enterprise focused on closing the rural opportunity gap. To maximize all possible resources to address this critical problem, the organization partners with a taxable nonprofit, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI), and a seed fund, the CORI Innovation Fund, focused on early-stage technology companies located in rural areas. For more information visit www.ruralinnovation.us.

About CORI Innovation Fund

The CORI Innovation Fund (CIF) invests in scalable technology startups in the United States to enhance economic growth and job creation in small communities. CIF seeks out attractive technology-enabled operating businesses in rural geographies that are under-served by traditional venture capital institutions and identifies, funds, and supports the best tech entrepreneurs American small towns have to offer. For more information visit www.corifund.com.


Media contact:
Emily Wood
Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)