SMIF announces new rural venture communities

Published 8:00 pm Friday, October 30, 2020

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently accepted four communities to its rural entrepreneurial venture program, according to a press release. Each of the communities will participate in the program, which supports long-term economic growth in towns of 5,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region, for a period of three years from 2021 to 2023.

The REV model is based on the e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems framework from NetWork Kansas, which provides guidance to communities for accelerating entrepreneurial activity. The framework has been utilized by communities across the country and provides a roadmap for sustainable entrepreneur-focused development. The inaugural REV cohort, which participated from 2018 -2020, supported the communities of Blue Earth, Lake City, Le Sueur, Spring Grove and a collaborative effort between Lanesboro and Spring Valley. A variety of approaches to economic growth have been implemented in the communities, including business succession programs and youth retention initiatives.

After a competitive application process, the following communities were selected for the 2021 to 2023 REV cohort:

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• Montgomery (Le Sueur County)

• Springfield (Brown County)

• Wells (Faribault County)

• Mapleton, in collaboration with the additional Maple River School District communities of Amboy, Good Thunder and Minnesota Lake (Blue Earth/Faribault Counties)

Each group will develop a core leadership team made up of a variety of community stakeholders. The teams will meet regularly with coaches from SMIF, Region Nine Development Commission and University of Minnesota Extension. A variety of exercises and tools will be provided to the teams, including a mapping exercise to document the impacts of the program over time and a database for conducting an inventory of the existing entrepreneurs in each town.

“We are excited to work with these communities over the next three years as they explore different approaches to supporting entrepreneurs and economic growth through this program,” said Pam Bishop, vice president of economic development at SMIF. “We know from our experience with the first cohort that the REV program will have a lasting impact on how these small towns approach economic development.”

For more information about the REV program, contact Pam Bishop at or 507-214-7013. Read more about the long-lasting impact REV has made on small towns in the region in SMIF’s 2020 impact report.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The foundation has provided more than $121 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 34 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about our work and mission, visit