Every community has an underlying Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, simply because there always exists entrepreneurs and a pocket of a professionals who serve them. However, what differentiates the thriving Entrepreneurial Ecosystems with the networks which purely exist is the depth of the relationships which build between the Business Owners and their surrounding communities.

Fostering a vibrant Entrepreneurial Ecosystem requires more than people, resources, and programs….it requires a culture of innovation, a foundation of trust, and a network of passionate champions to lead the charge.

After working as both an Entrepreneur and a Resource Provider, Small Town Ventures has seen the many ways that communities, both big and small, can come together to create an ecosystem which brings about phenomenal success.

  • Programmatic Models
  • Benchmarking & Metrics
  • Community Engagement
  • Economic Development through Entrepreneurship
  • Tech-Based Economies & Cultures of Innovation
  • Funding, Training & Technical Assistance


The Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC®) program is an economic development strategy that helps communities become entrepreneur-ready. That means every door leads to opportunity. The overall business climate, policies, and opportunities to learn and grow are simple to find and available. It also means there’s a positive, enthusiastic attitude that permeates the culture. Certified communities make a commitment to ongoing action planning and implementation of entrepreneur initiatives. A Certified Entrepreneurial Community® signifies this is a place where entrepreneurs succeed.

Emily serves as one of the partners behind CEC® and helps provide communities with the facilitation and support needed to obtain the designation. The program delivers the following components:

  • Ecosystem Assessment
  • Action Plan with a Scorecard
  • Coaching of Two Task Teams for 6 months
  • Evaluation and Certification
  • Action Plan for Year 2
  • Ongoing Coaching and Training


REAL Entrepreneurship® is a recognized leader in entrepreneurship education. REAL was born as Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning over 30 years ago as a result of the work of Dr. Johathan Sher in North Carolina and Dr. Paul DeLargy in Georgia. They had a vision that entrepreneurship could (and should) be taught as a skill set in high schools. Within just a few years, the REAL curriculum, based on the Experiential Learning Cycle, began to gain ground in high schools across the South, and later, across the U.S.

Post-secondary adaptations followed. Soon, REAL could be found in community college programs as both credit and continuing education offerings. It was inevitable that universities would see the value in an experiential learning-based curriculum, so REAL made its way there, too.

As word spread of this innovative and inclusive way of teaching entrepreneurship, educators from around the globe made their way to North Carolina to become certified REAL facilitators. Today, REAL Entrepreneurship® has a presence in 43 states and over a dozen foreign countries, thanks to the enthusiasm and effort of hundreds of educators.

Emily is a certified REAL trainer and works directly with Sequoyah Fund (owners of REAL) to bring the curriculumnd to other communities around the world.


In partnership with The Rainforest Strategies, LLP, Emily uses consulting, research, and strategic design to advance rural communities by growing local cultures of innovation and the regional capacity for technology development. She specializes in building bridges to better connect high level expertise (Academia, Industry and Science) with ground level innovators (Entrepreneurs, Makers and Youth). Emily and her partners believe in the local economies movement and see tech as an answer to furthering it.

As part of her services, Emily helps communities, non-profits, educational institutions, and businesses foster more vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems with an emphasis on technology and innovation. She provides project advisement, consultancy, grant assistance, and team management.

With the help of partners, Small Town Ventures can help lead and facilitate:

  • Community & Organizational Innovation Assessments
  • Economic Development Initiatives engaging Government, Higher Education, Businesses, etc.
  • MakerSpaces, Co-Working Facilities & Business Incubators
  • Events to grow the local Innovation Scene
  • Regional Workshops & Training
  • Strategic Planning
  • Grants Management & Applications


Having worked with communities ranging in size from rural towns to thriving micropolitans, Emily has wide ranging experience in programmatic models which help to catalyze economic growth from the ground up. Small Town Ventures can assist with developing a strategy, applying for grant dollars, leadership training, program promotion, mission restructuring, and benchmarking evaluation tools.

Contact STV if you’re looking for support around programs like the following:

  • Digital Storytelling for Community Development
  • Innovation Challenges
  • Business Plan Competitions
  • Youth Business Plan Competitions
  • Revolving Loan Funds
  • Mentoring Groups
  • Service Provider Networks
  • Resource Guides and Online Directories
  • Networking Events
  • Technical Training & Assistance
  • Sector/Cluster focused assistance
  • Expos/Conferences
  • Entrepreneurship Networks
  • Buy Local Campaigns
  • Community Leadership Engagement
  • Main Street Revitalization
  • Youth Entrepreneurship & Leadership Development


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