Laramie has been selected to become one of four pilot study sites for a National Science Foundation research project. The project is designed to identify and support the needs of fourth sector enterprises, also known as social enterprises, which are mission driven organizations that use business principles to make the world a better place.
Laramie Main Street Alliance will serve as the host for the project, which includes testing and evaluating a new educational crowdfunding platform developed by The Local Crowd, a Laramie-based firm. The Local Crowd received a $225,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct the research, which has the ultimate goal of increasing community awareness and support of social enterprises.
The Local Crowd has received funding through the Wyoming Business Council's SBIR Matching program. The Business Council is the state's economic development agency.
“The National Science Foundation (NSF) supports startups and small businesses with the most innovative, cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to become great commercial successes and make huge societal impacts,” said Graciela Narcho, Acting Director of Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “We hope that seed funding will spark solutions to some of the most important challenges of our time across all areas of science and technology.”
Trey Sherwood will serve as the coordinator for the project in Laramie.“This project will support existing socially minded businesses in our region while encouraging new enterprises to explore this sector of our economy,” said Trey Sherwood, Director of Laramie Main Street. “We are excited to see how Laramie businesses will take advantage of these resources.”
Laramie Main Street is a certified organization under the Business Council's Wyoming Main Street program.
The research is focused on the so-called “funding gap” - businesses who are ready for growth but who do not yet qualify for a bank loan and are not ready to accept an equity investment. The platform will be used to leverage social networks through the power of crowdfunding. Research has shown that these campaigns can be helpful for both marketing and sales efforts, and can be used to help meet this funding gap.
Laramie businesses are invited to submit their campaign ideas at this link: https://thelocalcrowd.com/rfp/
Laramie Main Street will host a Coffee and Conversation session about crowdfunding for anyone interested in participating. The session will be Thursday, April 25th at 8:30 a.m. at 115 E Ivinson Avenue.
For more information please contact Jason Arnold, Community Manager at the Local Crowd, (888) 465-9622 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to Laramie, the communities of Goshen, Indiana; Monadnock Region, New Hampshire; and Omniworks™ Business Incubator, Los Angeles, will also serve as pilot sites. The research project will be conducted through 2019.
An abstract of the research project is available online https://seedfund.nsf.gov/awardees/phase-1/details/?company=local-crowd-llc-the