According to the USDA, the total population in US rural counties (populations under 50,000) is 46.1 million – 14% of the US population. Due to the smaller workforce pools and few industries, many US rural communities have high economic risks. These risks can be outweighed by adding diversity into the region through entrepreneurship. As such, rural development is more so than ever linked to entrepreneurship as economic development organizations see entrepreneurship as a key strategic initiative that can significantly accelerate the developmental process. Most importantly, rural entrepreneurship stands as a vehicle that improves the quality of life for individuals, families and communities, and helps to sustain a healthy economy and environment.

One of the key reasons I am so passionate about the work we do at InBIA is because entrepreneurship is true win-win economic development. By providing resources and networks focused on developing a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, a community can bootstrap the creation of jobs that drive regional wealth without cannibalizing jobs from other communities. InBIA’s members are leaders in driving entrepreneurial economic development their communities.” – Kirstie Chadwick, President & CEO of InBIA

The economic state of America’s rural communities has significant impact on the overall economic health of the entire country. As Kirstie Chadwick shared in her most recent blog post, “developing thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in rural communities has a unique set of challenges”.  However, with these challenges comes great opportunities. Below you’ll find an infographic that demonstrates the advantages these emerging cities have and how these promising qualities can push them towards success.

To support leaders running rural incubation programs across the globe, InBIA has organized the e.Builders Forum. This annual event typically takes place in emerging U.S. cities and shines a spotlight on rural communities and economically disadvantaged areas that are often overshadowed by more prominent entrepreneurial ecosystems and the coastal tech hubs.

The mission of e.Builders Forum is to challenge the notion that entrepreneurial meccas – like Silicon Valley and Boston – are the only regions capable of supporting innovative companies that drive job creation and economic growth.

Event attendees will include veteran industry leaders and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders from startup incubators, accelerators, university-based entrepreneurship centers and other entrepreneurial support organizations from around the country.

This year’s e.Builders Forum will be held at Innovation Depot, one of the nation’s largest and most successful incubators located in Birmingham, Alabama. As of 2016, Innovation Depot has contributed to serving 102 member companies, created 870 jobs and generated $126M in gross sales. Over the past five years, Innovation Depot has generated $1.42 Billion for their region.

This September, e.Builders Forum will bring together regional entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders for two days of extensive, deep dialogue surrounding advanced critical topics on building entrepreneurial ecosystems in underserved communities and the opportunities, mentioned in the infographic below, that their centers might have available.

In celebration of the annual e.Builders Forum, here are 5 Unique Opportunities Available to Rural Incubation Programs!

Hope to see you at e.Builders Forum for more discussion on opportunities available to rural regions.