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History and Structure

The Center has thrived since its launch in 2001 with an initial investment provided by the Kauffman Foundation and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI). While the Center received some annual support from RUPRI through May 2011, the bulk of the Center’s more than $10 million in activity generated since its founding has been through the opportunities generated and captured by the Center’s co-founders, Deb Markley and Don Macke.

Over this decade of work, the Center has continued to be a go-to resource for rural America in terms of entrepreneur-focused development. The Center’s work addresses development associated with business, social and civic entrepreneurship. The Center has always played, and will continue to play, an intermediary role vis-à-vis rural entrepreneurs – “We help those who help entrepreneurs.” The Center continues to evolve its solution areas and services in order to continue to be relevant to the entrepreneurship movement in the U.S.

The Center is organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and received exempt status in May 2009. Incorporated in Nebraska, the Center operates as a virtual organization with offices and staff in Nebraska and North Carolina. In January 2017, the Center was strategically acquired by Virginia Community Capital (VCC) and now operates as CRE under their financial services holding company. In May 2017, VCC and the Center launched a LOCUS Impact Investing, a new social enterprise with a mission to empower place-focused foundations to invest their capital locally to build prosperous, vibrant communities. Learn more about LOCUS here (page link to come.)