Rural Opportunity Initiative

The Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) is a collaborative strategy to build local environments supportive of entrepreneurs and small business. Through financial support, innovative partnerships, network creation, and a bevy of business development resources, ROI strengthens and unifies the entrepreneurial ecosystem within and across Oregon's rural communities.

The principle goal is to build a future economy that works for all of us. To achieve this, the initiative is proactively inclusive, led by impacted communities, redefining methods and metrics of evidence-based economic development, and focused on elevating the role of entrepreneurship in local economic development.

The Approach

Communities self-identify as champions and conveners for entrepreneurship. They are entrepreneur and demand driven. They determine their own needs and create their own solutions while building their own resources. The initiative supports communities with knowledge, networks, and provides financial and human capital to assist communities in advancing their project from one stage to the next, working towards a strengthened entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Initiative Values

Local, place-based strategies keeps the power within the community. The best people to decide the right approach for a community are the residents themselves. This approach builds local capacity while challenging economic development professionals across the state to be entrepreneur- and demand-driven.

Inclusive leadership and genuine partnership. Learning from Native Americans, women, and communities of color and embedding their perspectives in every step of the process; creating partnerships based on mutual respect and a shared vison are valued. Funding helps ROI communities proactively include diverse populations in leadership roles while building the capacity of all partners to provide culturally-responsive services.

Who is Participating

Eleven recipient communities were selected through a competitive grant process for their ability to build local capacity and bolster broad and inclusive support within their community. The communities collectively represent more than 14 counties, 20 cities, and elevate the work of more than 80 partners, ranging from universities, venture catalysts, and local Tribal governments to financial institutions, culturally-specific legacy organizations, youth-serving organizations, and more.

ROI Communities work in three stages of development:

3 stages of development: concept, launch, and scale

Funding and Application Process

The Legislature provided $750,000 to Business Oregon for use toward ROI in the 2017-2019 biennium. Future program funds will be decided during the 2019 Legislative Session. Should additional funding be provided, Business Oregon will announce and post application forms and the process on this page. Sign up to receive Innovation & Entrepreneurship communications and stay up-to-date on the latest developments and future program opportunities.