Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process Explained
University of Nebraska Extension Entrepreneurship Team is presently in the process of piloting a new curriculum in four pilot communities in Nebraska, thanks to a research grant from the Rural Futures Institute. With the acronymn of ECAP (Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process), this project facilitates community leaders to learn more about their community strengths and developing those futher to attract and retain a working population as well as creating an entrepreneurial environment that can lead to more community vitality.
Communities presently in various stages of the pilot project come in varying sizes from four different districts in Nebraska.
- Elgin - Northeast Nebraska
- Central City - Southeast Nebraska
- North Platte - West Central Nebraska
- Box Butte County - Panhandle Nebraska
Each community involved in the pilot is or will be conducting a community scan or survey to determine which of the eight characteristics of a sustainable community they should learn how to implement and actually practice skills they learn to strengthen that characteristic.
Below is an abstract of the grant:
The Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP) is a holistic facilitative process with the goals of attracting and retaining working age population and creating entrepreneurial environments that lead to community vitality. An extensive review of literature has identified a model of eight characteristics that consistently characterizes entrepreneurial communities, and that contributes to their positive entrepreneurial cultures: Community Vision; Culture of Change; Leadership; Sense of Place, Infrastructure; Digitally Connected; Education/workforce IQ; and Entrepreneurial Support Systems. This project will test the model in eight communities contributing significantly to the research base on successful rural revitalization and to outreach efforts to support successful rural development.
The project will engage community members in ECAP. Community members will provide feedback on the process and identify benchmarks which can be used to measure the changes occurring in their community. Researchers will collect and analyze data using mixed methods including questionnaires, focus groups, ripple mapping and observation. Case studies based on each community’s experience will identify best practices and lessons learned. On-going research will determine whether the short term goals are being achieved and if ECAP is an effective approach to creating an entrepreneurial environment.
Using the ECAP curriculum as a base, the team will develop a dynamic user-friendly on-line presence (i.e. zmags, linkages, eXtension Community of Practice and mobile technology). Successful transition of the concepts learned and best practices identified in face-to-face educational settings to an on-line presence increase capacity.
ECAP will initiate new dialogue with resource providers about progressive Nebraska rural entrepreneurial activity. Thus, critical to this proposal is the collaboration of state-wide community development professionals with wide-ranging expertise into ECAP. The ECAP team will provide in-depth support to communities throughout the project.