Grant program to boost business in rural Oklahoma
by Adam Wilmoth
April 4, 2017
Gov. Mary Fallin announces the GrowOK program Monday during news conference as Scott Meacham, CEO of i2E Inc., stands nearby. The program is designed to boost rural Oklahoma economies by supporting rural communities and American Indian entrepreneurs. [Photo provided]
Gov. Mary Fallin, i2E Inc. and seven state partners have begun a program designed to boost and diversify the state’s rural economies, the groups announced Monday.
Backed by a $200,000 federal matching grant, GrowOK will begin this spring with a curriculum designed for rural communities and American Indian entrepreneurs.
“I’m so pleased that i2E is taking this creative program to Oklahoma’s rural and Native American population,” Fallin said Monday in a statement. “It will offer rural entrepreneurs access to services that will help them find new markets and new customers for products developed in their communities.”
The program is a partnership between nonprofit high-tech business incubator i2E, the Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Oklahoma Business Roundtable, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science & Technology (OCAST) and Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma Inc.
The U.S. Economic Development Association (EDA) awarded the grant in November.
“Thanks to the federal Economic Development Administration and our great partners here in Oklahoma, this program will allow i2E to take our services to the state’s Native American and rural entrepreneurs in areas where they live and work,” i2E CEO Scott Meacham said in a statement. “Our mission with GrowOK will be to help grow successful ventures in rural communities across the state.”
The GrowOK curriculum is designed to challenge rural and Native American entrepreneurs to identify their customers and determine whether their concept solves a true market need, Meacham said.
The program also will provide another tool for the tribal small business development organizations to bring in outside expertise and create a business growth opportunity for their members, he said.
The first GrowOK class is expected to launch next month in Ada.
Read full article on NewsOK.