Ten Joplin Area Entrepreneurs Begin National Accelerator Program to Turn Ideas into Reality

Led by Heartland Forward with Partner Builders + Backers

(Joplin, MO) – Ten Joplin entrepreneurs will enter a national idea accelerator program aimed at taking their ideas and putting them into action, becoming builders. In Joplin, those ideas include: an augmented reality platform to promote local points of interest; a platform allowing local businesses to efficiently deliver local orders; date night subscription boxes with local goods and services; cakes and desserts customized for dietary needs; and a community support operation to help elderly residents struggling with isolation.

The participants from Joplin will join builders from nine other cities throughout the heartland including Helena, Pine Bluff, and the Northwest Arkansas region, Arkansas; Duluth, Minnesota; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Iowa City, Iowa; Clarksdale, Mississippi; and Fort Worth, Texas. The three-month program kicks off on June 16.

The program is a partnership between Heartland Forward and Builders + Backers. The cohort of ten builders in Joplin is part of Heartland Forward’s commitment to help support 1,000 builders across the heartland by 2023.

“Thriving small businesses and an entrepreneurial spirit are key to developing local economics and spurring economic revitalization in cities and towns across the heartland,” said Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward. “We are excited to welcome this new cohort of Joplin builders to the program, and look forward to seeing what incredible ideas they bring to the community. Heartland Forward is excited to work with entrepreneurs across the region and to expand this impactful program across the heartland as part of our commitment to support 1,000 builders by 2023.”

“Every community has potential game-changing ideas that are lying dormant,” said Donna Harris, CEO of Builders + Backers. “We received some exciting submissions in Joplin, and we can’t wait to get to work helping these new builders put their ideas into action. This is where the premise behind our Idea Accelerator program gets so interesting. For less than a single venture investment, we’re going to unleash and fuel thousands of ideas across the country and see new ventures, initiatives and companies emerge.”

At the heart of the CGPT are the Builders + Backers four program pillars, designed to mobilize and equip Builders through:

  • Idea Accelerator: This cohort-based program combines a 45-day Builder Bootcamp to teach participants how to put ideas into action, followed by 45 days of actively executing their ideas through a single experiment.
  • Pebble Fund: All of the Builders are supported by a $5,000 Pebble Grant to test their ideas. Participants are mentored by Master Builders throughout the program.
  • Storytelling: A comprehensive media program that curates, captures and distributes stories of Buildership™, both from within the programs and in communities everywhere. Through video, written stories, social media and media partnerships, the program inspires people to become Builders.
  • Buildership™ Workshops: Workshops and other events introduce people to the ideas of Buildership™ and demonstrate that anyone can generate creative solutions through entrepreneurial experimentation that contribute to the sustainability of communities.

The program was piloted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oxford, Mississippi, with 15 Builders solving problems in their communities related to workforce development, volunteerism, increasing food awareness and more. CGPT secured 100% retention from Builders and the majority were women and people of color. To learn more about the Builders, see here.

About Heartland Forward:

Heartland Forward is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to improve economic performance in the center of the United States by advocating for fact-based solutions to foster job creation, knowledge-based and inclusive growth and improved health outcomes. Heartland Forward conducts independent, data-driven research and programs to facilitate action-oriented discussion and impactful policy recommendations. To learn more, visit heartlandforward.org/.

About Builders + Backers:

Builders + Backers invests in exceptional entrepreneurs who are building global-scale ventures to power an entirely different future – one where technology creates value for many instead of capturing it for a few. Through proprietary programming, Builders + Backers also inspires and equips people to best seize the opportunities of our digital era – from experimentation and solving problems in their local communities to starting new ventures that could scale. By backing the most creative builders across the country, we can shape the digital future to be one in which more people participate and thrive.


Caroline Wellford

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