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What is Dakota Rising?

Dakota Rising is a three-year Dakota Resources program that helps rural entrepreneurs discover new ways to grow their business. Dakota Rising mentors entrepreneurs who have passion, drive, and a will to take their companies to the next level. The program’s goal is to help businesses all over rural South Dakota become more successful, put more people in their community to work, and help entrepreneurs better manage their businesses so they don’t burn out.  Dakota Rising strategically partners with local communities to help entrepreneurs and business people grow their businesses.

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A Network for growth

The Dakota Rising program was launched in 2008 by Dakota Resources and has since mentored dozens of entrepreneurs who have accelerated their business growth and have taken advantage of the insight, ideas and experience of other Fellows. The Dakota Rising community meets three times a year for three-day conferences in addition to online meetings. The sharing among Fellows grows companies and grows a Fellow’s business confidence. Becoming a Fellow adds a level of accountability that encourages you to take action. Fellows receive assistance from their closest Dakota Rising community site, as well as from Dakota Resources. The South Dakota economy relies on the growth of small businesses like yours, and Dakota Rising can help you accelerate that growth. Are you ready to grow?  The first step is the Dakota Rising application.


What is a Dakota Rising Fellow?

A Dakota Rising Fellow is a person who has taken a startup business to a viable, profit-earning stage and is poised for the next level of growth. After successfully completing the application process, and being chosen, Fellows are connected to a community of statewide resources, mentors and financial experts. Personal and business growth strategies are developed while working in a small cohort where Fellows help one another despite vastly different industries and experiences. After one year in the program, each Fellow is awarded a $10,000 grant to support professional growth and business expansion.  Click here for more information about the Dakota Rising Fellowship.

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What is a Dakota Rising Community Site?

A Dakota Rising Community is a vital component of the program.  It provides entrepreneurial development resources to a defined service area or target population. Communities nurture a pool of entrepreneurs and business owner talent, network resources and build community support. Communities are certified annually to be members of the Dakota Rising network.  Dakota Rising Community Sites create a culture of confidence that cultivates business growth within the community by implementing the strategies and tools of the Entrepreneur Development System.  Click here for more information about Dakota Rising Community Sites.


Why become a Dakota Rising Community Site?

Increase the:

  • Wealth in the community
  • Employment opportunities
  • Community leadership and engagement
  • Recognition and value of existing businesses to local economies


What is the Fellow application process?

Past Dakota Rising applicants contend that the application process alone is enough to get them thinking more strategically about growing their business. The application includes an executive summary, a business plan, action plan, financial statements, letters of reference, and a résumé. Assistance with the application is available statewide from a Small Business Development Center near you. The application has several steps to help ensure you’re committed to the process.

  • The first step is to request additional information from the Dakota Resources staff at www.dakotaresources.org/application-information
  • Once you’ve decided that you’re going to apply, complete a brief online “Intent to Apply” form.
  • You will then be contacted by Dakota Resources staff and a member of the Dakota Rising community to help you understand the selection criteria, commitment to the program, timeline for selection, and other details.
  • Complete and submit your application.
  • Applicants receive feedback from Dakota Resources staff, the Dakota Rising Community, two business leaders and the Finalist Selection Team.
  • If you are selected as a Fellowship Finalist, you will be paired with a mentor who will help you update and refine your application.
  • You then resubmit the final application along with financial forecasts.
  • All Finalists will spend a day with the Fellows Selection Team.


People have always been South Dakota’s greatest asset. South Dakotans know how to work hard and work together to grow our economy — and the hands of many can accomplish the vision of one. South Dakota’s history was built one barn at a time and our future will be strengthened one innovative business at a time. Today, we’ll work together and help our Dakota communities rise.



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