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.