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Rural Commonwealth launches Groundwork, a rural business incubator for western Franklin County

There are more than 450 small businesses based in western Franklin County, but this rural area is underserved by comprehensive business training programs that would help existing and future enterprises thrive. ?To fill this important economic development gap, Rural Commonwealth today announced the launch of Groundwork, a new rural business incubator and accelerator based at the organization’s Shelburne Falls office in the former Lamson Goodnow factory, co-directors Beth Bandy ad Toby Gould announced today.

Groundwork will offer four types of services to support the local business community:

  • A three-month accelerator for small cohorts of existing rural business owners, covering key topics such as business models, business plans, operations, distribution, marketing, and financing options.
  • A 18-month incubator program for start-up social enterprises that are based in rural Massachusetts communities and focused on one of these priority topics for rural communities: marketing assistance for rural businesses and/ or a rural region, transportation, healthcare access, aging in place, lodging, and small-batch food distribution.
  • Meetings with small teams of mentors for accelerator and incubator participants
  • Regular streaming of free business webinars from nationally-recognized business training providers, open to the public and free of charge.

While applications for the Summer 2018 cohort of the three-month accelerator program are now closed, applications for the September cohort will be accepted on the Rural Commonwealth website beginning June 15. Applications for the 18-month incubator program will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning on July 1. For information, please contact Rural Commonwealth co-director Beth Bandy at beth.bandy @ ruralcommonwealth.org or 413-824-2593.

Rural Commonwealth is a statewide nonprofit based in Charlemont that is focused on strengthening the 170 rural communities in Massachusetts. It’s economic development work is based on the idea that every resident of rural Massachusetts deserves to make a good living in an environment that provides a good life.

Groundwork is a program designed to meet multiple needs of local entrepreneurs that came to light in more than 40 hours of interviews for Rural Commonwealth’s “Western Franklin County Business Report,” released in October 2017, and dozens of follow-up discussions with West County business owners. The report is available for download on the Rural Commonwealth website.?

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