I'm looking for 'best in class' examples and exploring the business models related to this work. How they fund the activity and how (or if) they make money. I have a tonne of examples of organizations doing great work in more urban areas and small cities, as well as rural areas that are home to some sort of college or technical institute. However, I'm look for best practices for inspiring startup activity (getting people with entrepreneurial potential to take action) in areas with a smaller population base and then supporting the development and growth of early stage startups in those communities.
I think the best people to talk to about this would be my friends Andy Stoll and Amanda Styron of http://seedhere.org. They just completed a bus tour with Steve Case (founder of AOL) called The Rise of the Rest that was focused on building entrepreneurial communities in smaller population areas. Andy and Amanda also consult with many small communities similar to what you are describing that are working on creating community driven entrepreneurial initiatives.
Let me know if you need an intro.