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Entrepreneurship and Business Development

ARC supports a variety of activities to promote entrepreneurship and business development in the Appalachian Region. These activities help diversify the Region's economic base, develop and market strategic assets, increase the competitiveness of existing businesses, foster the development and use of innovative technologies, and enhance entrepreneurial activity. ARC entrepreneurship and business development activities include:

  • Giving entrepreneurs greater access to capital, including support for microcredit programs, revolving loan funds, and development venture capital funds.
  • Educating and training entrepreneurs through youth education programs and adult training initiatives.
  • Encouraging sector-based strategies to maximize the economic strengths of local communities; and
  • Providing strategic support for business incubators and other forms of technical assistance.

ARC programs that support entrepreneurship and business development efforts include the Asset-Based Development Initiative, which builds on the foundation of the Commission's 10-year Entrepreneurship Initiative, and the Telecommunications Initiative.

Appalachian Capital Policy Initiative

Accessibility to capital and credit is a major factor limiting business creation, expansion, and growth in the Appalachian Region, a challenge that has been intensified by the recent recession, long-term trends that have driven economic activity and population into metropolitan areas, and ongoing consolidation in the banking industry. ARC's Appalachian Capital Policy Initiative is a multi-faceted strategy that aims to develop an overall policy framework for addressing capital and credit availability over the long term, and to identify and implement specific actions that can improve and expand capital access in the near term. The initiative has four objectives:

  • Expanding bank lending for business expansion and growth;
  • Attracting new sources of equity investment to the Region from private corporations, pension funds, national financial institutions, philanthropic institutions, and intermediaries;
  • Building the capacity of local and state Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) funds, loan funds, and other providers of capital, as well as helping existing CDFIs expand into underserved communities; and
  • Increasing the volume and quality of investment offers and financeable projects.

Work on the initiative will be guided by an advisory committee composed of financial experts from throughout the 13 Appalachian states.

Appalachian Capital Policy Initiative Project Summary (PDF: 184 KB)
Appalachian Capital Policy Initiative Advisory Committee Members

Information on March 2012 Advisory Committee Meeting
Information on February 2011 Advisory Committee Meeting
Information on December 2010 Advisory Committee Meeting

ARC Entrepreneurship Initiative (EI)

Support for entrepreneurship is a critical element in establishing self-sustaining communities that create jobs, build local wealth, and contribute broadly to economic and community development. Entrepreneurs not only create value by recognizing and meeting new market opportunities, but also add value to the Region's existing business assets.

In 1997, ARC began an innovative ten-year initiative to invest in projects designed to build entrepreneurial economies across the Region. Over the following ten years, ARC invested almost $43 million in 340 Entrepreneurship Initiative projects, which created 1,700 new businesses and created or retained more than 12,000 jobs, as well as supporting partnerships and collaborations, and helping leaders at the community and state levels recognize the value of entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy. EI investments helped train teachers and expose students to entrepreneurship concepts, reaching almost 12,000 participants throughout the Region; and supported business incubators that have served hundreds of emerging businesses.

The EI has also supported the formation of rural equity investment funds, or development venture capital funds, which have raised more than $70 million to support growing entrepreneurs in the Region. Through these investments and the demonstration effect of the projects funded, ARC has helped establish entrepreneurship as a complementary strategy to recruitment and support for existing industry, while raising awareness of the importance of the entrepreneurial and small-business sector to the Region's economy.

The Rural Policy Research Institute's 2008 publication Creating an Entrepreneurial Appalachian Region: Findings and Lessons from an Evaluation of the ARC's Entrepreneurship Initiative 1997-2005 (PDF: 830 KB) summarizes a program evaluation of $43 million of investments in entrepreneurship over 10 years.

Entrepreneurship and Business Development Links

Research Reports
Additional Resources
Examples of Projects