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Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Training for Minnesota Main Streets

Minnesota Main Streets is hosting two workshops on Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem building for downtowns and historic districts on October 10 in Cloquet and October 11 in Red Wing. These workshops are identical, but will be held in two different locations.

Minnesota Main Streets is a grantee of the Equitable Ecosystems in Rural Main Streets Program, led by Main Street America and supported by the Kauffman Foundation. In selecting grantees, priority was given to applicants who demonstrated a sincere interest and commitment to expanding their own internal entrepreneurial ecosystem programming. Through this program Minnesota Main Streets invites downtown business owners, building owners, Main Street staff, City staff and Elected Officials, Economic Development leaders, Chambers of Commerce and Tourism staff, and anyone interested in entrepreneur activity in historic downtowns or neighborhood districts to attend.

Minnesota Main Streets by Rethos is excited to welcome all rural communities to a free one-day workshop on Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem building. Two identical workshops will take place in Minnesota. The first workshop will be held in Cloquet, MN on Tuesday, October 10, from 10am to 4pm at the Cloquet City Hall. The second workshop will be held in Red Wing, MN on Wednesday, October 11 from 10am to 4pm at Red Wing Ignite. “We’re thrilled to be part of the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem program. Bringing technical assistance to communities around the state that are working to enhance their downtown districts for entrepreneurs is critical. We know that entrepreneurship is strong in Minnesota, but to be able to focus efforts on our historic downtowns and commercial districts is a crucial piece in keeping our communities strong and resilient. Entrepreneurs in brick and mortar buildings need different supports than online start ups, and we are excited to help communities take a look at how they can foster entrepreneurial growth in their downtown spaces.”

The Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem workshop is for any rural community in Minnesota. This one-day workshop will focus on Entrepreneurial Mindset, Equitable Ecosystems, Ecosystem Building Blocks and Support, and Preparing for the Ecosystem Building process. Speakers will cover several tools and templates for you to better assess your community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, its assets and gaps, the role that your Main Street programs and partner organizations play, along with targeted next steps to map out and utilize your Ecosystem. Participants will leave with the tools and understanding of how to put the pieces of their ecosystem together equitably and with entrepreneurs in mind.

The workshop will center around Main Street America’s critical factors of ecosystem development. We encourage you to make the most of this free workshop by bringing a ‘squad.’ A community squad is a group representing as many factors as possible, ideally with a representative from each block, from the following categories: Place, Human Capital, Social Capital, Financial Capital, Education and Training, Culture, Government/ Regulation.

This program leverages Main Street America’s past work in entrepreneurial ecosystem building and builds on partnership with Forward Cities for greater equity and inclusiveness. “We are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to partner with the Main Street America team on this powerful initiative,” adds Fay Horwitt, President and CEO of Forward Cities. “We look forward to coming alongside the MSA team to equip rural communities around the country with increased knowledge and capacity to cultivate a culture of access, belonging, inclusion, and diversity for the businesses. The ultimate goal is that every business owner would have an equitable opportunity to launch, grow, and scale a business that creates wealth for themselves, their Main Street, and their broader community.“

Rural communities across the country are confronting the difficult task of growing their small business economies alongside larger industries,” says MSA’s Chief Program Officer Matt Wagner, Ph.D. “This decades-long challenge has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a devastating and disproportionate impact on women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs from diverse racial/ethnic groups in rural communities. Holistic, place-based, equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems offer a promising path forward for these communities as a core economic development strategy. There is a need to deliver these services to rural communities, and Main Street America is uniquely positioned to address that need in partnership with its state and regional coordinating programs.”

Following this workshop three communities will be selected to receive an Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Rural Communities grant for technical services from Main Street America, including a holistic ecosystem assessment, community demographic profile creation, and stakeholder and entrepreneur focus groups. Any Minnesota Main Street community wanting to apply for the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Rural Communities grant must attend this workshop. Only communities under 50,000 population are eligible to apply.

For more information on the Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Workshops in Minnesota, contact Emily Kurash Casey, Director of Community Programs at Rethos and Minnesota Main Streets at

To register for these workshops:


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