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Ep. 69 Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Small Towns

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Are rural communities the future hotspot for entrepreneurship? Today’s guest, Jordan DeGree, founder of the Rural Ideas Network, sits down with us to share why he believes they are, and what it means for those of us living and working in rural America. We talk about how the network helps small towns to encourage entrepreneurship, foster creativity, and drive innovation. Whether you’re an entrepreneur in a rural community or a person who cares about supporting small businesses in your town, this episode is for you! Be sure to catch Jordan’s Fast Five (we love a solid soapbox!) to hear his answer to the question posed above. It’s such an exciting time to be in a small town!

About Jordan:

Jordan founded the Rural Ideas Network in 2018 as a way to support entrepreneurs in rural communities. In his role at the Rural Ideas Network, Jordan oversees network efficacy and provides coaching to entrepreneurs.

Jordan is a social enterprise entrepreneur, focused on starting both for-profit and nonprofit initiatives that have a positive impact on communities. In 2020, he was selected by the governor to serve on the Empower Rural Iowa Taskforce, with a specific focus on supporting entrepreneurial development. In 2018, Jordan received a Governor’s volunteer award for his various community service efforts in Iowa.

In 2008, Jordan launched Creative Adventure Lab (, a nonprofit organization on a mission to foster creativity and innovation. Over the past 11 years, Creative Adventure Lab has grown to provide innovative learning experiences to people of all ages, through a variety of programs, and serves more than 20,000 people every year.

Jordan also helped launch The Innovation Lab (, a coworking space and innovation services provider with multiple locations throughout the midwest. The Innovation Lab provides office space, entrepreneurial support programs, and innovation services to existing businesses (like John Deere and Alliant Energy).

DeGree has successfully launched and sold a residential property company and is currently majority owner of the Dubuque Idea Campus (, a 42,000 ft2 commercial real-estate development in downtown Dubuque.

To complement his 12+ years of entrepreneurial & management experience, DeGree has a master’s degree in educational leadership and professional experience designing curriculum, developing effective educational models, and providing instructional and advisory services to individuals.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The meaning of creativity and innovation and how they work together

  • The value of co-working in a small town

  • How The Rural Ideas Network can support you and your community

  • What all businesses can focus on while still dealing with the pandemic

  • When your idea takes longer to implement than you planned...

Links and Resources Mentioned

Molly Knuth Media (Thanks for connecting us, Molly!!)

The Rural Ideas Network—Community Tools page:

The Rural Ideas Network—Entrepreneur Tools page (classes & coaching):

(Use Coupon Code GST20 to get 20% off your registration!)

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