Red Wing Ignite will be awarded $4 million in federal grants and matching dollars to support local entrepreneurship and innovation.
It was announced today that Red Wing Ignite has secured a Venture Challenge scale grant via the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program. Red Wing Ignite, which also received a precursor to the B2S “build” grant in 2019, worked with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply to this grant as part of CORI’s 2022 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to create inclusive digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.
The Initiative was 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.
“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 at the Center on Rural Innovation. “This is the third 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.”
“We are so proud to have been awarded the Build to Scale funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration,” said Stacy Nimmo, Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite. “It’s a huge win for our region and we are excited for this opportunity to further ignite, launch, and accelerate entrepreneurial ideas and innovation in southeast Minnesota.”
With the $4 million provided by the Venture Challenge grant and matching funds, Red Wing plans to launch the Accelerating Rural Entrepreneurs in Southeast Minnesota project, intended to help overcome geographic dispersal and barriers to entry through regional coordination, expand access to startup programs for rural and diverse founders, launch an accelerator to expedite the growth of scalable tech startups in the region and build a network for mentors and investors ready to help scale regional startups.
Red Wing Ignite is joined by the Jones Family Foundation, Goodhue County, Xcel Energy and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation as local partners who provided funding for the community’s match portion of the grant. Other local partners supporting this program include the City of Red Wing, Workforce Development Inc., St. Olaf College, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Winona State University, Minnesota State College Southeast, MNCup, and Rainsource Capital.
The 2022 Build to Scale program awarded 51 grants to applicants from 31 states. The grants represent a combined $47 million in federal investment. Red Wing was one of just eight rural applicants to receive the award this year.
Red Wing is a member 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 Red Wing Ignite
Red Wing Ignite fuels economic development by working with key sectors of the community to spur innovation by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses, and students. The nonprofit organization was founded by the community of Red Wing in 2013, with the support of local foundations and the City of Red Wing. By bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs, investors and advisors, Red Wing Ignite creates a unique ecosystem for the Red Wing community to share ideas, resources and expertise. This ecosystem, in turn, promotes local and regional economic development through new company creation and expansion.
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 digital 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.