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University Rural Entrepreneurship Program

For Immediate Release



Nora Nolden, PR & Communications Consultant

[email protected] or (651) 245-6804




Compeer Financial Supports University Rural Entrepreneurship Program
Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin Extension are teaming up to support businesses

Sun Prairie. Wis., (January 17, 2022)  Rural entrepreneurship in Wisconsin and Minnesota will get a boost from a newly created program in the Extension programs at the state’s land grant universities. 

The rural entrepreneurship program was announced this week by University of Wisconsin Extension Dean Karl Martin and University of Minnesota Extension Dean Beverly Durgan. Two Farm Credit associations – Compeer Financial and AgCountry Farm Credit Services – joined together to make contributions totaling $400,000 across four years to make the joint program possible.

Starting and growing a rural business is hard work. Typically, rural communities have fewer people and fewer resources to support entrepreneurial opportunities. This program allows Extension to support rural economies by developing rural business owners who are tapping into unique local opportunities and underused assets in their areas.

The new program will build upon research and outreach capabilities of Extensions. The deans noted their states have many features in common, including an already-vibrant foundation of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs create stable jobs for themselves and others; they contribute to an overall sense of place and quality of life in rural settings. The program will create and build linkages in entrepreneurial networks, improve the availability and utilization of resources to entrepreneurs, create opportunities for entrepreneurs, and develop the skills-sets necessary for success in the modern rural economy.

“There’s great energy around starting new businesses in our states, but in rural locations there are unique challenges, too, ranging from financing to broadband and more,” said Durgan.  

“Communities succeed when ideas for businesses can grow into thriving realities. This funding will help the land-grant universities bring our strengths to the table to help,” Martin said. “This new outreach is only the beginning, and we plan to expand offerings and service.”

Both Martin and Durgan lauded the donors, noting Compeer and AgCountry’s contributions reflect their long-held commitment to rural Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

“As a cooperative serving and supporting rural communities, we see the value entrepreneurs bring to rural economies.” said John Monson, chief mission and marketing officer at Compeer Financial. “This program will champion those individuals who are bringing innovative ideas to rural America.”

“We know there is a lot of potential for additional rural entrepreneurs to step up when the right resources are available,” states Troy Andreasen, chief marketplace officer at AgCountry. “This is an investment in the future vitality of rural communities across our great states.” 

The joint program will include hiring of new staff in both Big Ten institutions, as well as formation of an advisory group to help guide its efforts. The program builds upon the capacity of the Center for Community Vitality at University of Minnesota Extension and the Community Economic Development program at UW-Madison Extension. 

About the Fund for Rural America

The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America is the corporate giving program of Compeer Financial, structured to support Compeer Financial’s mission to enrich agriculture and rural America. Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors has dedicated one percent of annual net earnings to support the Fund’s focus areas of agricultural advocacy and development, agriculture education, cooperative initiatives, rural development and community enrichment; and youth engagement. The Fund is managed by a Board of Trustees, made up of team members from Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin and members of the Compeer Financial Board of Directors. More information about opportunities available through the Fund can be found at


About Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $25.4 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial’s scholarship program.


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