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Press Release: Ada selected to receive highly competitive U.S. Economic Development Administration Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant

10/1/2021 by Jessika Leatherbury
Tags: Grant, Ada Jobs Foundation, US EDA, Build to Scale, Entrepreneurship, tech jobs

Ada selected to receive highly competitive U.S. Economic Development Administration Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant

Ada will be awarded $1,167,306 in federal grants and matching dollars to support local entrepreneurship and innovation.


ADA, OKLAHOMAThe Ada Jobs Foundation has secured a Venture Challenge grant via the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build to Scale (B2S) program. The Ada Jobs Foundation worked with the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) to apply to this grant as part of CORI’s 2021 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to create inclusive digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.

The Initiative was launched in 2018 by the CORI and its sister organization, Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc (RISI). It was made possible through a cooperative agreement between RISI and the EDA. To date, this program has graduated 25 communities and helped rural communities secure more than $17 million to build tech accelerator programs and other elements of scalable entrepreneurship strategies in rural communities.

“We are tremendously proud to see the Ada Jobs Foundation win a Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant,” said Leah Taylor, CORI’s Head of Digital Economy Consulting. “They worked tirelessly to develop strong partnerships in their region and a strategy to diversify their rural economy will increase the number of scalable technology startups in southern Oklahoma.”

“We are thrilled to see this investment in Ada and our work to support technology startups in rural Oklahoma,” said Jim Eldridge, President and CEO of Ada Jobs Foundation. “We appreciate the excellent support for this grant from CORI, the City of Ada, the Chickasaw Nation, and all of our local entrepreneurial ecosystem partners.

With the $1,167,306 provided by the Venture Challenge grant and matching funds, Ada plans to launch the “Ada Technology Startup Spring of Southern Oklahoma” program. This program will support the growth of scalable technology startups in the Ada region through creating new technology-focused events, digital media about local tech startups, a technology accelerator program, and a regional investor outreach program.

The Ada Jobs Foundation is joined by the City of Ada and the Chickasaw Nation as local partners who provided funding for the community’s match for a portion of the grant. Other local partners supporting this program include Pontotoc Technology Center, East Central University, Oklahoma Gas and Electric, Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, and SitchCrew.

The 2021 Build to Scale program awarded 50 grants to applicants from 26 states. The grants represent a combined $36.5 million in federal investment. Ada was one of just eight rural communities to receive the award this year.

Ada has also joined CORI’s Rural Innovation Network, a growing community of rural communities in 18 states working to train local residents in digital skills, employ them in new economy jobs, and empower them to launch the startups that will drive their future economies.
About the Ada Jobs Foundation
The Ada Jobs Foundation contracts with the city of Ada to promote and recommend economic development opportunities with the city, and serves as a "one-stop-shop" for economic development by coordinating with the city and other entities. The Jobs Foundation works in partnership with state and local government, educators, training providers, financial institutions, and business. Its partners include Ada Area Chamber of Commerce, Ada Industrial Development Corporation, Chickasaw Nation, City of Ada, East Central University, Pontotoc County Commissioners, Pontotoc Technology Center & Science and Natural Resources Foundation. www.growada.com
About the Center on Rural Innovation
The Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) was founded in 2017 to address the dramatic opportunity gap between rural and urban communities that grew out of the Great Recession. CORI is committed to advancing economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of inclusive digital economy ecosystems that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation. To do this work, they partner with their sister organization, Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc. (RISI), a taxable nonprofit corporation using data-driven strategies, leading-edge geospatial tools, and digital economy expertise to advance their shared vision for rural equity and opportunity.