For Immediate Release
Oct. 5, 2022

HARTLAND, Vt. — The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI), a national nonprofit working to advance economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive tech economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation, today announced that seven of eight rural communities from its 2022 Rural Innovation Initiative cohort have secured Venture Challenge grants via the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program

The successful grant applications came from: Aberdeen, South Dakota; Portsmouth, Ohio; Red Wing, Minnesota; Rutland, Vermont; Taos, New Mexico; and a joint application from Springfield and Randolph, Vermont.

Seven communities applied to the Venture Challenge as part of the 2022 Build to Scale cohort of the Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program launched in 2018 by CORI and its mission-aligned collaborating organization, Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc. (RISI). To date, this program has graduated 29 communities and helped rural organizations secure more than $29.9 million to develop strategies and build out programs that can accelerate their local digital economic development efforts. Since its inception in 2018, more than 250 communities have applied to participate in the Rural Innovation Initiative program.

“The work that goes into the Rural Innovation Initiative process requires intense focus, unwavering optimism, and a clear vision for the future — which is why it’s been so exciting to watch these communities receive Build to Scale funding,” said Matt Dunne, Founder and Executive Director of CORI. “This is the fourth year we’ve run this program, and each year we grow more inspired by the commitment these rural leaders have to transform their local economies with new tech pathways that serve their community. We look forward to seeing what is next for them as our Network continues to grow.”

The 2022 Build to Scale program awarded 51 grants to applicants from 31 states. The grants represent a combined $47 million in federal investment. The Rural Innovation Initiative participants were six of just eight rural applications to receive the award this year. 

These Rural Innovation Initiative participants are also members of CORI’s Rural Innovation Network, a growing collective of rural communities in 24 states across the country that are working to train local residents in digital skills, employ them in new economy jobs, and empower them to launch the startups that will drive their future economies. 


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, CORI Innovation Fund (CIF), focused on early-stage technology companies located in rural areas.


Contact: Rebekah Collinsworth
Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)