COMPLEX PROBLEM: According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Reserve, wages for American workers have been stagnant or in decline for the past four-plus decades. Globalization and increasing automation have displaced U.S. jobs, diminished local economies and prompted rural residents to seek opportunities in cities. The Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 exacerbated economic challenges for middle- and lower-income Americans. The National Association of Counties confirms that most of America’s 3,069 counties have yet to recover fully.
INTEGRATED SOLUTION: Winrock has a long track record of bolstering local economies. We work with municipal leaders to identify challenges and develop community-specific solutions that build and expand on existing businesses while encouraging entrepreneurs to spur local economies. Our experience of revitalizing local economies has taught us that better livelihoods are the product of strengthened business skills and access to markets and capital.
Creating conditions for economic growth
The recipe for sustained economic growth has many ingredients: a supportive regulatory environment; a trained and skilled workforce; the commitment and resources to meet the needs of existing and potential new businesses; and adequate infrastructure and access to capital and financial services. Winrock engages multiple levels of government to develop policies, regulations and services, building on local economic strengths not only to retain and expand existing businesses, but also to incubate and attract new ones. Working with local leaders, we identify potential funding to improve infrastructure and make their communities more attractive to investors. We also help small businesses secure essential loans and investments. We assist individuals and enterprises to access credit, insurance and a range of other financial services that can create opportunities, expand incomes and improve people’s lives.
Developing skills to expand economic prospects
Winrock helps develop the capabilities businesses and entrepreneurs need to thrive. By increasing access to education, livelihood development and vocational training, we ensure that companies have a reliable pipeline of skilled workers, while individuals have the opportunity to better their lives. We link workforce development programs with employers to ensure worker skills align with real needs and keep pace with emerging opportunities. To foster viable commercial enterprises that create jobs and economic growth, we cultivate the business skills of inventors and entrepreneurs, and then link them to venture financing, business expertise, partners, networks and markets.
Strengthening local enterprises to expand economic opportunity
Winrock spurs economic opportunity by helping new businesses develop and access a skilled local labor pool; engaging government leaders; and pursuing investments suited to national, regional and local circumstances. Our approach includes both traditional and emerging fields, including agriculture, water, energy, information technology, natural resource management and location-specific industries.
In Arkansas, Winrock International helps technology entrepreneurs and inventors make the difficult jump from a promising idea to commercial viability. To date, Winrock’s Innovate Arkansas program has helped raise $295 million in financing and has assisted more than 575 clients. Collectively, these entrepreneurs have generated $281 million in revenue and added more than 650 new jobs in the state. Innovate Arkansas strengthens the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by providing needs-based mentoring, increasing revenue opportunities, growing private investment and boosting the state’s high-tech workforce.