Community growth program to stimulate entrepreneurship in Duluth | The Daily Briefing

The Community Growth Program and Toolkit (CGPT) is coming to Duluth to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and action.

The program is spearheaded by Heartland Forward and its partners, Builders + Backers, the office of Mayor Emily Larson, the Northland Foundation and the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.

“My goal for Duluth is to be the entrepreneurial engine of the state of Minnesota and I’m thrilled that we’re the first Minnesota city to partner with Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers to bring their national Idea Accelerator to our community,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson in an official statement. “Together we’ll help bring new people who have promising ideas into the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

This new cohort of 10 builders in Duluth is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to funding and supporting 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023 and a summer cohort of builders across nine cities. The Duluth cohort is the first in Minnesota. A cohort of 50 builders completed the program earlier this month in Iowa City, Iowa, Oxford, Mississippi, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“Problem solving with an entrepreneurial mindset will be key to rebuilding our post-COVID local economies, and our Community Growth Program and Toolkit has already proven to be a successful, meaningful way to accelerate the entrepreneurial thinking needed to help our communities thrive,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, in an official statement. We are thrilled to be bringing this program to Duluth as part of our commitment to support 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023. We are confident this next cohort of Builders will have the innovative thinking and ideas to create real change in their communities , and we look forward to seeing what they can accomplish in the months and years to come. ”

Anyone who has a creative and unexpected idea for solving a problem facing the Duluth community can complete an application here. Duluth residents must apply by May 30. Residents with the most promising and innovative ideas will be selected to participate in a two-month long virtual program starting on June 16.

“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are laying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “The key – and the economic urgency – is getting more people, in more places, to actually put these ideas into action. That’s the power of small experiments and the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program. For less than a single venture investment, we can unleash and fuel thousands of experiments across the country and see new ventures, initiatives and companies emerge. ”

At the heart of the CGPT are the Builders + Backers four program pillars, designed to mobilize and equip Builders through:

  • Idea Accelerator: This cohort-based program combines a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment.

  • Pebble Fund: All of the Builders are supported by a $ 5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas. Participants are mentored by Master Builders throughout the program.

  • Storytelling: A comprehensive media program that curates, captures and distributes stories of Buildership ™, both from within the programs and in communities everywhere. Through video, written stories, social media and media partnerships, the program inspires people to become Builders.

  • Buildership ™ Workshops: Workshops and other events introduce people to the ideas of Buildership ™ and demonstrate that anyone can generate creative solutions through entrepreneurial experimentation that contribute to the sustainability of communities.

The pilot program in Tulsa and Oxford included 15 Builders solving problems in their communities related to workforce development, volunteerism, increasing food awareness and more. CGPT secured 100% retention from Builders and the majority were women and people of color. To learn more about the Builders, see here.


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