Emerging Prairie has received a $15,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for an initiative that will help create access for entrepreneurs to connect with state policymakers. The grant is the result of Emerging Prairie winning a pitch competition in which the organization proposed organizing ‘Entrepreneur Day at the State Capitol,’ where entrepreneurs from across the state of North Dakota will have the opportunity to travel to Bismarck to educate policymakers about barriers they and other innovators and entrepreneurs encounter.

Emerging Prairie continues to be recognized nationally for its efforts and  success in helping to create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Dakota. Its mission to connect and celebrate entrepreneurs in the state  is crucial to creating healthy, vibrant communities, as well as assisting in the creation of a 21st Century Workforce — all aims of North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s Main Street Initiative.

“North Dakota has a rich history of entrepreneurs driving our economy, from our cutting-edge agricultural and energy production to our burgeoning technology sector. We’re excited to welcome entrepreneurs and innovators from across the state to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face as we work together to solve our workforce shortage and Empower People, Improve Lives and Inspire Success,” said Governor Burgum.

The ‘Entrepreneur Day at the State Capitol’ is planned for January 21, 2019, and organizers hope to gather around 75 entrepreneurs from across the state to meet with  lawmakers. Buses will be sent across North Dakota to gather the entrepreneurs and hotel rooms in Bismarck will be provided to them for the duration of their stay in the state’s capital.

Participants from across the United States took part in the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Zero Barriers Pitch Competition this past July, and the winner was chosen using a peer-selection method in which other leaders of entrepreneur support and policy organizations judged the pitches. John Lettieri, President and CEO of the Economic Innovation Group, was one of the judges for the competition. Lettieri said Emerging Prairie’s pitch ranked among the best pitches he witnessed during the competition:

“Good policymaking begins with good dialogue, and Emerging Prairie is leading the important conversation between entrepreneurs and policymakers to support North Dakota’s business creators. ‘Entrepreneur Day at the State Capitol’ will enable policymakers to better understand the unique barriers entrepreneurs face and encourage them to work in partnership on policy solutions that spur entrepreneurship across the state.”

Including entrepreneurs’ voices in policymaking is crucial to the success of innovation on both the local and national level according to Jason Wiens, Policy Director at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The work Emerging Prairie is doing is highly regarded among its peers nationwide.

“When entrepreneurs engage in policy conversations, they have the opportunity to increase elected officials’ understanding of entrepreneurship and how to support new business creation,” said Wiens. “Emerging Prairie is at the forefront of a movement to elevate the voices of entrepreneurs so that public policy supports anyone who wants to bring an idea to life.”

Overall, the planned ‘Entrepreneur Day at the State Capitol’ would not be possible without funding from the Kauffman Foundation. The day will have a far-reaching impact and help entrepreneurs in North Dakota lead from the front when it comes to policymaking and the removal of barriers to innovation in the state.

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Danella Myers