Wind River Startup Challenge seeks community input for future economic programming

(Wind River Reservation, WY) —  The Wind River Startup Challenge is seeking input and suggestions from the Wind River Reservation community on future economic development opportunities to support native entrepreneurs and grow Native-owned businesses.

Complete the online survey by August 25, 2022, and survey respondents will be entered to win one of four $100 gift cards. You must have Tribal affiliation to be eligible to win. 

Survey link: https://bit.ly/WindRiverSurvey

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In partnership with the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, the Wind River Startup Challenge (WRSC) seeks to stimulate entrepreneurship on the Wind River Reservation and provide the opportunity for tribal members to acquire funding to launch native-owned businesses.

Now completing its third year, the WRSC began as a joint endeavor of the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the University of Wyoming Office for Research and Economic Development. Learn more about these partners and programs below. 

The WRSC has just secured five years of funding thanks to the generous support of EPSCoR. Now, organizers want to develop the program based on the needs of the Wind River community.

Partnering with Royal Roads University’s School of Leadership Studies, a community-wide survey through August 15, 2022 and follow-up interviews for those interested will be scheduled into September. Information and data collected from this research will inform the evolution of the program. Additional opportunities to join an advisory council and engage with the Wind River Startup Challenge are available for those interested. 

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Since 2020, the WRSC has awarded $105,000 in funding to Wind River Reservation entrepreneurs. 12 finalists, made up of both individuals and teams, have received six+ months of business coaching, business development support, and seed funding ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. 

If you would like to share your voice and what economic opportunities you would like to see on the Reservation, complete the initial survey by August 25, 2022. 

To learn more about the Wind River Startup Challenge, if you have questions or comments about the research, or to support the program, contact Crista Valentino at [email protected] or (307) 363-2791.

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About the Wind River Startup Challenge:

The Wind River Start-Up Challenge (WRSC) began as a joint endeavor of the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the University of Wyoming Office for Research and Economic Development. The Wind River Start-Up Challenge is for new ventures created and managed by tribal members and includes new ventures launched by licensing university technology. Tribal members are expected to have a primary role in developing the business and must intend to operate the business in the Wind River Community Area. For its first three years, WRSC has been a collaboration between Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribal members, Central Wyoming College, the Wind River Development Fund, and several University of Wyoming units: IMPACT 307, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wyoming EPSCoR, and the High Plains American Indian Research Institute (HPAIRI). Funding for this challenge comes from National Science Foundation-funded Wyoming EPSCoR, a grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business program, and Microsoft.

About the National Science Foundation’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research:

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Wyoming EPSCoR is a program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support researchers, students, and institutions in Wyoming by building a robust and diverse research education infrastructure in the state while supporting and facilitating pathways to STEM.

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