Back Roads

Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) is a national action tank dedicated to revitalizing rural America by establishing a network of innovation hubs designed to jumpstart digital economy ecosystems in small communities

Their Need

Coordination of the effort to develop one or more innovation hubs in rural South Carolina to reignite innovation and build new, sustainable pathways to prosperity

Our Solution

By partnering with CORI to establish the South Carolina Rural Innovation Network, we laid the groundwork for launching a collection of Back Roads Prosperity Labs designed to provide economic opportunity through a live-work-learn platform developed by CORI and currently being piloted in Springfield, Vermont.

Once operational, the Back Roads Prosperity Labs will:

  1. Enable community members to gain valuable new economy skills
  2. Create pathways for low income and underemployed people to obtain digital economy jobs and eventually become entrepreneurs
  3. Provide the community with the capacity to develop a robust digital economy that can underpin its long-term resilience

Following an assessment of needs and assets in the Palmetto State’s Pee Dee Region, we identified three potential communities and set out to build networks of local leaders and community members, while also working to identify potential real estate to house a collaborative workspace, a co-working space, an entrepreneur center, apartments and a training center.

We developed informational materials and budgets to share with key stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, along with the early stages of a brand identity.

Still in the infancy of the project, we’re continuing to raise awareness and funds to support the Labs via a new 501c3 non-profit and will continue to work with CORI to develop critical “levers” designed to enable economic growth and build a foundation of stability our communities.

Lever 1: Computer Science Education & Preparation for New Economy Opportunities

Lever 2: Digital Skill Training & Employer Matching for Remote Digital Jobs

Lever 3: Building Digital Economy Enterprises through a Residential Entrepreneurship Center

Lever 4: Creating a Critical Mass via Our Backroads Prosperity Labs

Lever 5: Exploring Innovation Opportunities in Agriculture, Manufacturing & Tourism


More information about our progress on the Back Roads Prosperity Labs, along with locations, will be unveiled in Fall 2018.