Introduction to the ECAP Guide

Introduction to the ECAP Guide Introduction to the ECAP Guide

Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP) represents an approach to community and economic development that is anchored in best practices that define an entrepreneurial community as one that is charting its path to a positive future by building on

  • unique characteristics,
  • community assets and
  • potential opportunities for growth.

ECAP communities are marked by innovative thinking and entrepreneurial leadership, buttressed by widespread community engagement to define community priorities and implement those priorities with community support and commitment.

The ECAP approach is built around eight entrepreneurial characteristics:

In the ECAP process, community members engage in four community conversations that focus on one or more of the eight characteristics identified as priorities by the community participants themselves.  In the pilot communities, the process was used to focus the community’s attention on a few manageable, high priority strategies for community and economic development.

This ECAP Guide reflects the processes that were most successful in implementing ECAP in the pilot communities with the assistance of Nebraska Extension. Communities may implement the process on their own or with the assistance of Nebraska Extension or other outside facilitators.


The ECAP process was developed and pilot-tested by Nebraska Extension with support of the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute and the assistance of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. Pilot tests were conducted in these Nebraska communities:  Ashland, Box Butte County, Central City, Hartington, Gage County, North Platte, and Thayer County.