Oct 25, 2021 | Press Releases

Growing Rural Oregon launches

Growing Rural Oregon advances rural entrepreneurial ecosystem building strategies in John Day, Independence, Klamath Falls and Florence

The Ford Family Foundation is proud to announce the launch of a new framework for supporting rural entrepreneurs called Growing Rural Oregon — GRO. Four Oregon cities will participate in GRO’s first cohort: John Day, Independence, Klamath Falls and Florence. Community leaders will work with a coach to build a local entrepreneurial ecosystem, follow an evaluation plan and collaborate as a learning community for a five-year period.

GRO is an economic development framework that aims to foster more prosperous and resilient rural cities and towns across Oregon through entrepreneur-centered development. Starting with the recognition that every community already has entrepreneurial talent, GRO helps identify the tools needed to support and uplift rural entrepreneurs. GRO strategies aim to leverage unique community assets that can stimulate innovation and sustainable economic vitality.

“Klamath IDEA is proud to be a part of the first GRO cohort in partnership with The Ford Family Foundation,” shared Kat Rutledge, director of Klamath IDEA in Klamath Falls. “We’ve been working hard on our entrepreneurial ecosystem, and it’s exciting to have the Foundation come alongside us to demonstrate what entrepreneurship can do for our rural communities.”

“The Foundation is proud to catalyze GRO because it is a community-centered and community-driven framework,” said Kathleen Flanagan, director of Community Economic Development. “GRO is not a service provider or a stand-alone program — it is an intensive journey to jumpstart entrepreneurial behavior. This framework engages the broader community in growing prosperity together over time.”

The GRO framework’s approach is consistent with the Foundation’s community-led approach to supporting vital rural communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, Calif. “This is a long-term investment in the health and livelihood of entrepreneurs in rural Oregon,” explained Foundation president, Anne Kubisch. “From lenders to economic development organizations to government officials and community residents — GRO takes all of us collaborating together.”

GRO has been developed in partnership with national experts from NetWork Kansas and e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Oregon-based partners include Oregon Economic Development

Districts and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC). COIC will manage GRO’s implementation, leveraging community building capacity and direct relationships with the community members in the four participating communities. The Foundation is grateful for COIC’s expertise and collaboration to engage community residents in the GRO framework.

About NetWork Kansas
NetWork Kansas, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is dedicated to making entrepreneurship a priority for economic and community development in the State of Kansas. NetWork Kansas connects aspiring entrepreneurs, emerging and established businesses to a deep network of business-building and community development resource organizations across the state.

About e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems helps communities throughout North America increase prosperity through entrepreneur-focused economic development and ecosystem building. e2 supports a national team of practitioners who bring research, coaching, incubation, market intelligence and other expertise to economic development. e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems, formerly the National Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, is hosted by NetWork Kansas. For more information about NetWork Kansas and e2, visit www.NetWorkKansas.com.

About The Ford Family Foundation
The Ford Family Foundation was established in 1957 by Kenneth W. and Hallie E. Ford. Its mission is “successful citizens and vital rural communities” in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. The Foundation is located in Roseburg, Oregon, with a Scholarship office in Eugene. www.tfff.org

Kathleen Flanagan, kflanagan@tfff.org


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