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Dakota Rising program overview - fostering change in rural communities by creating a foundation for rural entrepreneurs to build upon.

Dakota Rising program overview - fostering change in rural communities by creating a foundation for rural entrepreneurs to build upon.Dakota Rising, an exciting new opportunity for rural entrepreneurs, is accepting applications from communities to partner in this new initiative. Dakota Rising was designed to spur a renaissance of South Dakota’s rural economy. This exciting opportunity offers strategic partnerships with local communities to invigorate rural entrepreneurs and their enterprises. By deeply investing financial and human resources, we can grow individuals and their businesses.For those communities interested in being a part of this innovative program, applications are currently available online. Up to four rural Sites will be selected to participate in Dakota Rising. As this program was created to facilitate rural economic change, Sioux Falls and Rapid City are ineligible to apply.

Interested communities are required to develop clear geographic areas to define themselves. As geography is a criterion for eligible entrepreneurs, the community must clearly define their boundaries so that potential fellowship applicants know if they are included in the Site or not. Some examples of geographic boundaries could be a county, a partnership of two or three towns to create a region, an Indian reservation or simply a predetermined mileage perimeter around a town. All definitions are acceptable, but it is important that the definition be clear and the Site has a sense of community and collaboration.

If your Site is chosen as one of the 8 finalist Sites you will:
  • Attend a convening of finalists
  • Have access to entrepreneurial support training
  • Receive a Site Coach to help improve your application for the final evaluation
The benefits your community will realize from being selected as one of the four Dakota Rising Sites are:
  • $5,000 annual grant for 3 years to cultivate local entrepreneurship
  • Resources for local entrepreneurs: Fellows selected from the community receive a $10,000 fellowship award and professional expertise
  • Local Coordinator included in all Fellows’ Conferences
  • Statewide pool of entrepreneurship resources
Each Site will form a Local Resource Team, a small, diverse group of citizens dedicated to providing guidance for the local program and its entrepreneurs and who will review locally submitted business plans. The Team will be led by a Local Champion (someone inspiring who can provide vision and bring people together) and a Local Coordinator (someone who can be sure the details are implemented and communicated). The Champion and Local Coordinator may be the same person.

Selected Dakota Rising Sites are responsible for recruiting, nurturing and cultivating future entrepreneur Fellowship applicants. One key tool for recruitment will be hosting an Entrepreneurs’ Fair, a local gathering of technical assistance providers and financial assistance experts available to support and encourage entrepreneurs. This one-day event is intended to create easy access to a network of information for those aspiring entrepreneurs interested in growing their businesses.

Once interested entrepreneurs have submitted their application (a business plan), the Local Resource Team will review all submissions from their Site. This review is critical to the process as it provides local insight into how businesses might be received locally and how they might benefit the community.

All Dakota Rising Sites will go through an annual re-certification and evaluation process to renew their status as a Site.

Dakota Rising Fellows

Selected Dakota Rising Sites are responsible for recruiting, nurturing, and cultivating entrepreneur applicants. One key tool for recruitment will be hosting an Entrepreneurs’ Fair, a local gathering of technical assistance providers and financial assistance experts available to support and encourage entrepreneurs. This one-day event, which will mark the launch of Dakota Rising for that Site, is intended to create easy access to a network of information for those entrepreneurs interested in growing their businesses. Each Site can customize the event based on their own network, style, and community keeping in mind that the intent is to strengthen the local support network available to entrepreneurs. South Dakota Rural Enterprise staff will be present at each Entrepreneurs’ Fair to give more information about the Dakota Rising Fellowship opportunity to interested individuals.

Interested entrepreneurs whose businesses are located within one of the Sites are encouraged to apply. Applications will be available on-line and will involve submitting a basic business plan.

Once plans are submitted, they will be reviewed by each Site’s Local Resource Team and a Round One Selection Committee. The Round One Selection Committee will select finalists who will then have an opportunity to improve their plans. Each finalist will be paired with a Mentor, preferably one that has expertise within their industry, and a Business Coach, to provide additional information and to strengthen their plans.

The revised plans are then reviewed by the Fellows Selection Committee. Up to eight Fellows will be selected and invited to participate in the Dakota Rising Fellowship. The Fellows will participate in a larger community built around entrepreneurship and will receive $10,000 to be used for learning and professional development, as outlined in their Fellowship Plan of their application. Professional development can be in the form of formal education such as a class or workshop, membership in and participation in an industry trade association, or hiring a professional business coach to advise strategies and approaches to problem solving. Diverse approaches are acceptable. What is most important is that the Fellowship Plan is one that will serve as a significant catalyst for growing the capacity of the Fellow and consequently for growing his or her business.

Fellows will gather for an annual Fellows Conference, where they will be partnered with Mentors, preferably from within their industries, and will participate in a Peer Advisory Board. Mentors will be available on an as-needed basis for the duration of their Fellowship involvement. Each Mentor is there to advise the fellow, be a sounding board for new ideas and to provide some level of expertise to the business venture. The Mentors will attend the Annual Fellows’ Conference and come to at least one of the Peer Advisory Board Convenings.

Fellows will be placed on a four member Peer Advisory Board, comprised of other Fellows. The Boards will meet quarterly and review each other’s progress toward specific goals. They will be available to ask probing questions and to hold the Fellow to the highest standards for the sake of the business. Mentors or other resource people can be invited to participate in the boards when appropriate and when their presence will deepen the caliber of the discussion. The Peer Advisory Boards are designed to provide a safe space for entrepreneurs to access other business minds and to gain a deeper awareness of their own strengths and challenges, particularly when those elements might not be apparent to the entrepreneur.

Dakota Rising will also help connect Fellows into the state network of organizations and resources available for entrepreneurs. Key representatives from these entities will often attend the annual conference or be invited to a convening.

$10,000 can be a significant contribution toward professional development and result in growth in the business. However, Dakota Rising hopes that it is the deep community of committed individuals with expertise and passion that will serve as an even greater catalyst for change. With a safe environment to explore new ideas, grow professionally and strengthen ventures, Fellows will have fertile ground in which to grow their businesses and thus stimulate their communities.

As change takes time and deeper relationships can spur greater growth, the Fellowship is a three-year commitment.

  Dakota Rising program overview
  Glossary of Terms
  2008-2009 Selection Timeline
  2008 Community Selection Criteria
 Opportunity Roundtable dates Site - Intent to Apply
  2008 Fellows Selection Criteria

Dakota Rising is administered by SD Rural Enterprise in partnership with:
· East River Electric Power Cooperative and the REED Fund
· Enterprise Institute
· Equip
· Governor's Office of Economic Development
· Northeast Council of Governments
· Oweesta
· Small Business Development Centers
· SDSU Cooperative Extension

Program developed through the generous support of the Northwest Area Foundation and Citi Foundation.

Dakota Rising - cultivating entrepreneurs, strengthening businesses, and sustaining rural South Dakota communities
629 S. Minnesota Ave.
Suite 201
P.O. Box 2282
Sioux Falls, SD

ph 605.978.2804

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