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Examples of ARC Entrepreneurship and Business Development Projects

Burson Center Business Incubator

The Burson Center is a small business incubator operated by Carroll Tomorrow, a non-profit economic development organization in Carrollton, Georgia. The incubator serves a variety of entrepreneurial business sectors, including multi-media, technology/logistics, service, professional, industrial support, agriculture, construction, and hospitality. The Centers work with independent film producers has produced benefits that have exceeded incubator managements expectations. Short-term services offered to the film industry include access to equipment, pre- and post- production facilities and storage, and community relations.

Services to Burson Center tenants and clients are offered by a variety of resource partners, including Georgia Techs Enterprise Innovation Institute and Government Procurement Assistance Center, and the Carroll County NAACP Business Development Services. Four of the resource partners occupy space within the Center.

The Burson Center has also become a regional resource center for small businesses in five countiesCarroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, and Heardproviding pre-venture, entrepreneurial and business growth assistance. In addition, the center hosts business and industrial prospects interested in locating to the area and offers a landing party program, which provides newly relocating industries with temporary office and warehouse space while permanent facilities are being developed.

Building Better Schools and Communities

The Better Schools program combines entrepreneurship education with technology transfer, skill development, business experience, and community collaboration to teach high school students the basics of business. Using a curriculum developed by REAL Enterprises and the learning approaches of the PACERS Small Schools Cooperative (an association of rural schools), the program works to improve education and connect it to sustainable economic development and community life.

The Better Schools program is a continuation of an entrepreneurship program that will:

  • pilot new programs and expand entrepreneurial education in Alabama's Appalachian counties;
  • promote the formation of school and community-based enterprises supported by technical assistance; and
  • strengthen and create networks and partnerships based on the existing PRSR work.

Better Schools has the support of several school districts and development organizations in the region, including the West Alabama Regional Skills Consortium.

Natural Capital Investment Fund

With the help of an ARC grant, the Conservation Fund will continue to develop the West Virginia Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF), which provides strategic capital—a mix of debt and equity—to start-up and expanding businesses in the target region. The NCIF will build on the successful models of rural development venture capital funds from across the United States, making investments in firms from $50,000 to $250,000. Matching grants from foundations and USDA Rural Development will provide operating support.

The Conservation Fund plans on raising $5 million in capital, which will enable the fund to leverage support from the Small Business Administration's New Markets Venture Capital program, resulting in the creation of a $12.5 million investment fund.