In partnership with the East Central Iowa Council of Governments, the Rural Ideas Network has been awarded a $412,105 grant from the Economic Development Administration to expand its efforts to support rural entrepreneurs across Iowa. The Rural Ideas Network has piloted two services to support entrepreneurs in rural communities since 2020: a coworking accelerator program and a virtual Business Lab service.

Through the accelerator program, the Rural Ideas Network staff helps local community partners launch and operate coworking spaces that host entrepreneurs, remote workers, existing business owners, and a variety of resource and support service providers. There are four coworking spaces in Iowa so far and one in Oakes, N.D.

The Business Lab is a virtual solution that allows communities to select the services that are important to their local businesses. Each Business Lab offers a full menu of programs, including one-on-one business coaching, peer learning opportunities, and technical assistance and training opportunities. More than 50 partners have launched Business Labs across five states.

As part of the EDA grant, the Rural Ideas Network will provide low- or no-cost services to a select number of rural communities that are interested in opening a coworking space or bringing a Business Lab to their community. In the coming months, a request for proposals will be available to communities interested in applying for the scholarships. For more information about this opportunity, email Rural Ideas Network Director Jordan DeGree at