The Accelerate Montana Rural Initiative Program (AMRII) is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded a substantial grant of $744,000 over the next five years, from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) University Center Program. The grant, matched equally by in-kind support from AMRII’s partners – the University of Montana, Catalyze Global Impact, Clearwater Credit Union, Hall Booth Smith, and Early Stage Montana – will fuel AMRII's mission to advance economic development in rural Montana.
In rural areas, early-stage businesses, especially those owned by women and Indigenous communities, often face challenges in securing vital business financing. This difficulty hampers rural job creation, curtails wealth generation, and impacts community resilience. AMRII's innovative approach tackles this problem at its roots. The initiative will provide comprehensive support, including targeted training, coaching, expertise, and resources, ensuring these businesses are not only ready to apply for funding but also adept at deploying capital effectively to drive their growth. AMRII will also help bridge the gap between early-stage businesses and statewide workforce development programs, creating a seamless pipeline of talent to enable these businesses to grow.
AMRII recognizes that funders need confidence in the businesses they support. AMRII will work with funders to facilitate this confidence by providing data collection, analyses, and facilitation of innovative new financing methods. This strategic approach will enable funders to successfully reach and support underfunded entrepreneurs, particularly those belonging to women, Indigenous, and rural communities.
In the past 5 years of our program, we have heard from both businesses and funders about the challenges preventing more funding of Montana’s early-stage and small businesses. This grant will allow us to focus on supporting the efforts to increase the success of small businesses around Montana by nurturing local talent, fostering financial acumen, and reducing the barriers to capital. We're not just building businesses; we're building stronger, more resilient communities,” said Karl Unterschuetz, Program Manager for the AMRII program.
“At Accelerate Montana, we are dedicated to fostering inclusive economic prosperity for Montana's workers, companies, and communities. With the EDA’s support AMRII can help increase the flow of capital to small businesses catalyzing economic growth across rural and tribal Montana,” remarked Paul Gladen, Director of Accelerate Montana.