ARC Business Development Program Evaluation (Press Release)
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socio economic parity with the nation.
This program evaluation consisted of 200 ARC business development grants issued from 2019-2021. Our team researched the performance, post-grant impact and lessons learned from these entrepreneur support organizations and some mission lenders.
Wright is a key partner with The Working Team for Appalachian Ventures, a team of consultants who have come together, bringing expertise in multi-site evaluation (Working Partner LLC), and business development (Wright Venture Services, PStrada LLC, Buzzworthy Biz). Lessons and findings from this work may be found here.
Our working group is available for other research and evaluation projects.
Community Investment Framer Cohort
This program was initially funded from the Appalachian Investment Ecosystem Initiative designed to build on years of locally led work to strengthen and fill gaps in the community investment ecosystem in Central Appalachia.
Paul Wright initially piloted the first training program, developed a Facilitators Guide and curriculum adjustments. He serves as the lead facilitator and content manager on behalf of Invest Appalachia as it licensed by ESOs throughout Central Appalachia.
Kauffman FastTrac Affiliate Suport Program
The Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation is a leader in entrepreneurship education, research, and grant-making to entrepreneur support organizations. Kauffman FastTrac® teaches aspiring, early-stage entrepreneurs how to launch their businesses. It’s an online entrepreneurship education curriculum available as a self-paced course or through FastTrac Affiliates.
We re-tooled the foundation’s entrepreneur education program and built the capacity of FastTrac Affiliate staff across the United States. In 2018 the program transitioned to an online curriculum and very few Affiliate staff were equipped to facilitate online. Wright piloted and delivered a Virtual Facilitators Training program certifying over 5 years to 500 facilitators and mentored over 250 Affiliate Program Directors. WVS remains a FastTrac Affiliate and can partner with ESOs to deliver FastTrac to their entrepreneurs or be an adjunct facilitator for other Affiliates.
Improved and redesigned our program
Olivia Armstrong - KFT
Paul Wright has been instrumental in our program improvements and redesign of curriculum based on feedback he helped gather. He recommended and was an active contributor to the refresh of the FastTrac curriculum that included new and updated content in diversity, equity and inclusion, lean startup tools, and social entrepreneurship.
Communities of Healing Training Program
Communities of Healing is a recovery-to-work project funded by Appalachia Regional Commission (ARC). It spurred small business to employ West Virginians healing from substance use disorder. We collaborated with a mix of partners, workforce development, recovery service providers, economic development agencies and social entrepreneurs over the three-year grant period.
Paul Wright designed curriculum for the Communities of Healing Cohorts and introduced over 500 businesses to a recovery-to-workforce business model. He coached 40 mainstreet businesses to create new business models to hire persons with substance use disorders, create a recovery-friendly culture in their businesses and raise impact capital for growth.
WVS can customize our Social Enterprise Lab curriculum to fit other programs and grant initiatives.
Learning new ways to lead in my business
Allison Ibarra, Owner of Pinheads Fun Center, City of Oakhill Economic Development Director
Paul's course helped me understand how to effectively steer the ship as a leader, and where we can hire and help people. Allison Ibarra, Owner of Pinheads Fun Center, City of Oakhill Economic Development Director
Creating a fundable business model
Jay Phillips, Executive Director of Seed Sower
If you have passion and vision, Paul’s courses are a great vehicle to develop them into a fundable business model. You’ll discover answers to questions you didn’t know to ask.
An exciting process from start to finish
Samantha Phillips, Sage & Lila Company
This was an awesome program that I was honored to go through and learn so much from. It's an exciting process, especially seeing everything come together at the end.