Community Foundation of the Ozarks announces Growth in the Rural Ozarks program

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks this week announced the cities of Marshfield, Salem and Sarcoxie as the three Missouri communities to receive its first-ever economic development grant.

cfo-gro-marshfield webThese communities are the inaugural participants in the Growth in the Rural Ozarks (GRO) program, a three-year initiative co-funded by the CFO and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aimed at promoting job creation, entrepreneurship and economic and workforce development in the rural Ozarks.

GRO will be facilitated by JumpStart, Inc., a northeast Ohio-based economic development and entrepreneurship firm, and supported by the three CFO affiliate community foundations, municipal and county governments, school districts, chambers of commerce and other local entities. These communities were selected by a CFO volunteer committee through a competitive process. Kickoff events were held May 17-19 in each city to introduce the program to local media and stakeholders.

The CFO Board of Directors has committed $55,000 per year for three years to the GRO program, with a committed USDA rural development match of $50,000 for 2016-17. (The CFO also plans to apply for USDA assistance for years two and three.) Local stakeholders were required to contribute at least $5,000 per city for a total investment of more than $300,000 across these three communities for the duration of the program.

cfo-gro-salem web“As we’ve traveled our highways and visited towns throughout the Ozarks, we have realized that we need to rethink our traditional grantmaking and support for our smaller communities,” CFO President Brian Fogle said. “We can help build strong schools, and develop nonprofit capacity, but without economic opportunity, our smaller communities cannot grow and prosper.”

The GRO outline calls for a three-year planning and implementation process, with JumpStart professionals working with local stakeholders to initiate the plan.

JumpStart’s mission is to strengthen the economic vitality by helping communities realize their entrepreneurial potential. JumpStart – which grew out of a program of the Cleveland (Ohio) Foundation – has nearly 15 years of experience in working with communities to reach their economic development potential, stressing a unique partnership between public and private entities charged with creating economic transformation through the growth of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

cfo-gro-sarcoxie web“The community leaders affiliated with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks – Marshfield, Sarcoxie and Salem, are adopting a fresh and innovative approach to regional economic development. We are impassioned by their initiative and look forward to supporting their journey,” said Hrishue Mahalaha, Senior Partner for JumpStart.

The GRO program also leverages matching funds from the USDA, which has long made rural economic development and vitality a national priority.

“Rural Development has a strong emphasis on economic development in communities. Economic development activities are ongoing and they are critical to our goal of improving the lives of individuals and families residing in rural Missouri,” said USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director Janie Dunning. “ Through revitalization and development, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks is doing great things for the region. By helping the cities of Salem, Marshfield and Sarcoxie, they are taking the right steps to strengthen and identify the needs of these communities through new partnerships, resources and networks.”

Founded in 1973, the CFO is a regional public charitable foundation that serves donors, 49 affiliate foundations and more than 600 nonprofit partners and schools.