Request for Applications:
Entrepreneurial Regions Mini-Grants
Deadline: October 22, 2010
The N.C. Rural Center announces the availability of $10,000 grants to regions of three or more rural counties that work together in building a talent pipeline, support system and friendly climate for their entrepreneurs. Up to six (6) grants will be awarded in North Carolina to start projects in November 2010 and complete work by June 30, 2011.
Goals of the grants:
Each regional team that receives a grant must demonstrate specific measurable progress toward at least one of the three goals of an Entrepreneur Development System (EDS):
- To prepare the next generation of entrepreneurial talent for business development and career opportunities with small businesses in rural communities;
- To improve the coordination and collaboration of business service provider and entrepreneur networks across several counties that share economic drivers; and
- To break down local and regional policy and cultural barriers impeding small business development in rural places.
Examples of eligible uses:
- Youth entrepreneurship initiatives involving various resources for youth entrepreneurship education and camps in North Carolina, such as the Department of Public Instruction, NC REAL, 4-H, Junior Achievement, DECA and Hop on the Bus.
- Building a service provider and/or entrepreneurs’ network including regular mini-events driven by local business needs, a zip-search database for business services, and a simple website for the network.
- A regional business plan competition to spur innovation and connect startups to experienced business owners as mentors.
- A slate of recommendations for local governments and other institutions in the region based on a survey of established small businesses in the region about specific impediments to local job creation that they identify.
- Other ideas generated by the applicant team to further one or more of the EDS goals. Interaction with institute staff about specific ideas is encouraged in advance.
No grants will be made for the following: building construction; feasibility studies; revolving loan funds; annual fund drives; lobbying activity; personnel, administrative or indirect costs; alcohol or entertainment.
- Any combination of three or more rural North Carolina counties that are contiguous may apply, with or without an urban county in the intended region.
- The grantee and fiscal agent may be a regional nonprofit organization, a college or university, a workforce development board, or a local government or chamber of commerce that develops an understanding with the other communities in the region.
- Clear statement of geography, goals, strategies, intended outcomes, implementation plan and budget for an innovative but feasible 8-month project to build a more entrepreneurial region.
- Strength and diversity of the team of partners from the affected counties. At least one organization must have a footprint covering the proposed service area.
- Inclusion of Tier 1 counties in the team and strategy.
- Project team shows meaningful engagement of a diverse cross-section of entrepreneurs in the region.
- Project shows progress towards building a regional entrepreneur support system.
- Ties of the proposed strategy to the economic and workforce development priorities and drivers in the region.
- Engagement of corporations based in the region including as small-scale financial supporters or as purchasing partners.
- Leveraging of existing initiatives and resources that help sustain the regional effort after this project.
- Each regional grantee team will participate in a learning network with the N.C. Rural Center and partners that we involve. There will be at least one in-person meeting for which the center will cover mileage, hotel and food costs separately from the $10,000 grant. The center will also coordinate regular webinars and conference calls, one site visit in the region by center staff, and coaching from experienced outside consulting partners.
- Each team will report briefly to the center about its activities and accomplishments on a monthly basis using metrics finalized with center staff at the project outset.
- Each team will participate in providing information for an evaluation team that will assess the impact of the $10,000 investments.
Qualified applications consist of a narrative of no more than four pages that describes:
- the goal(s) of the project;
- the approach, activities, and timeline;
- expected outputs and outcomes for the work;
- the roles and members of the collaborative team and their prior experience working together;
- the fiscal agent and 1-2 references we can call about its grant management;
- a budget showing the use of the $10,000 as well as any cash or in-kind match to the project during the same time period.
Funding recommendations will be made by a committee of staff and outside reviewers. The winning regions will be announced in early November 2010. Please do not submit additional materials unless the review team requests them. Teams with questions about a specific project idea under consideration should feel free to contact Barry Ryan or Leslie Scott at 919-250-4314 before the deadline.
All “Entrepreneurial Region Mini-Grant” proposals are due to the Rural Center in hard copy no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 22, 2010. No email submissions will be accepted.
Attn: Barry Ryan, Assistant Director
Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship
N.C. Rural Center
4021 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610
Application Q&A Sessions:
The Rural Center will offer two optional call-in sessions for potential applicants to learn more about the program and ask questions of staff about the Entrepreneurial Regions Mini-Grants. Staff will make a brief presentation and then answer questions from those on the telephone. Each session will be the same. Those on the phone will be asked to provide email contact in case there is follow-up from staff.
Two time options:
Monday, September 27, 2010 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 10:00 a.m.
Call-in number: 1-218-936-4700
Access code: 606612#