The Conductor has been awarded the 2019 Inclusion Open Grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
The Inclusion Open Grant was created by the Kauffman Foundation to find uncommon solutions that accelerate the rate of business starts and growth in all communities. The Foundation sought proposals from organizations that could either test new ideas or scale already-proven programs to remove barriers that make starting and growing a business more difficult. The Conductor was selected as one of 19 organizations nationwide to receive funding through the Inclusion Open Grant. The Foundation received 777 applications total.
“What’s exciting about this group of grantees is the chance to expand and develop resources that will have far-reaching effects in other cities and rural communities,” Chris Harris, Senior Program Officer at the Kauffman Foundation said. “The impact these organizations will have on breaking down barriers for entrepreneurs cannot be emphasized enough. We’re really excited to be working closely with all of our grantees.”
The grant will enable the Conductor to scale its 10X Growth Accelerator model to reach businesses in economically depressed areas around the state. The Conductor will tailor the model to better meet the needs of rural entrepreneurs. The restructured program, known as the 10X Rural Growth initiative, will cater to scalable, Arkansas-based businesses with annual revenues between $50,000 and $5 million. The Conductor will pilot the program in six regions around the state, reaching 11 counties and 19 Opportunity Zones.
The Conductor will be hiring and training Rural Growth Program Officers who will bring the targeted assistance to each region.
“This Grant is pivotal for the entire state of Arkansas,” said Kim Lane, Executive Director of the Conductor. “With this funding, the Conductor will not only bring unprecedented support to small businesses around the state; we will also be hiring subject matter experts who will deliver the Conductor’s programming in underserved areas. We are truly implementing the proverbial approach of ‘teaching a man to fish’ rather than ‘giving a man a fish.’ Through the Inclusion Open Grant, we are equipping communities with the skills and tools they need to support and catalyze business growth in their hometowns, which will in turn lead to more business starts and growth. It is the economic development version of the ‘gift that keeps on giving.’”
Each cohort of the 10X Rural Growth initiative will serve 5-10 companies, and the program will be comprised of five weeks of the renowned curriculum, followed by one-on-one mentorship and coaching. The Conductor will deliver targeted assistance to up to 100 rural, high-potential companies, positioning them for job growth and expansion in impoverished and underserved areas.
At the conclusion of each 10X Rural Growth course, the Conductor will be offering a marketing grant, which will be competitively awarded to a company in the cohort and will fund a marketing package that includes a new website, Facebook page, and logo.
“The University of Central Arkansas is proud to partner in this expansion into rural Arkansas,” University of Central Arkansas President Houston Davis said. “Because of the Conductor, the region is becoming a thriving entrepreneurial hub, and we are thrilled to be at the center of this work.”
The counties in the Conductor’s footprint include Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Johnson, Logan, Lonoke, Pope, Pulaski, Van Buren, White, and Yell. The six regions include: Conway and Faulkner (Central); Yell and Logan (Southwest); Van Buren and Cleburne (North); Pope and Johnson (Northwest); White (Northeast); Lonoke and Pulaski (East).