Washington is making entrepreneurship a key chapter in the rural development playbook

Startup Washington, a program of the state’s Department of Commerce, is proving that rural economies aren’t beholden to agriculture and manufacturing alone.  A brief profile in Governing sums up the many ways the program empowers rural entrepreneurs.

One of its best assets is Fund Local, a public-private crowdfunding platform that allows local investors to buy stakes in Washington businesses. Startup Washington’s website also provides how-to guides, grant listings, book reviews, a map of co-working spaces, and other resources.

During the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, Startup Washington holds networking events with entrepreneurs, business leaders, students, and investors. It’s a large undertaking, with nearly 200 networking events held across the state’s 34 rural counties in 2014.

Also included is an educational component, which brings together community colleges, nonprofits, EDOs, and private industry and offers multi-week training courses and intensive boot camps. These programs helped launch 35 businesses in 2014. Startup Washington also connects entrepreneurs with mentors through an online portal and at the local level.

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