Fueling Rural Growth

Blue Highway is a woman-owned investment firm that is fueling rural growth, innovation and technology. The firm is a licensed RBIC and trusted partner of CoBank. It provides growth capital for rural-based businesses, encouraging economic development and employment opportunities in communities that are often underserved.

Blue Highway was established in 2019 and invests up to $5 million of structured growth equity in small companies in mostly rural areas, especially those that may not qualify for traditional private capital. Through its investments, it not only gives rural businesses a chance to grow and thrive but provides economic relief to regions that need it most.

“We started with a rural footprint in parts of Maine, Pennsylvania and upstate New York, but we quickly started to gain national recognition too,” said Christine Jones, co-founder and managing partner of Blue Highway. “This type of growth is exciting. We want to offer financial assistance to various companies, especially the ones that align with our values.”

Through the investment funds that CoBank and the Farm Credit System help facilitate, we can play a vital role to fund and grow these businesses.

In 2020, Blue Highway connected with Aryv, a ride service company that caters to rural customers needing transportation to medical appointments. Unlike other ride-service companies that typically focus on urban customers, Aryv’s sole focus is on rural customers in various states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin.

“We originally founded the company as a side job, but soon began seeing holes in the system and realizing just how imperative our services were to rural community members,” said Kevin Knuteson, CEO of Aryv. “For many of our riders, these appointments were not optional—people were relying on rides to get to and from medical appointments and treatments like chemotherapy or dialysis. If your ride doesn’t show up, that could mean a trip to the hospital or worse. We couldn’t let that happen.”

Blue Highway saw great potential in Aryv.

“Unfortunately, there is a lot of waste in the transportation services industry. Aryv found inconsistencies within the system and began creating solutions in its own technology platform to address the issues,” said Jones. “And we were excited to help fund their vision. The company is growing in a responsible way, gradually expanding into new locations to offer its crucial services.”

Amongst its improvements, Aryv offers a tracking app for riders and their loved ones, ensuring that the journey is successful. It also runs credentials on every driver.

Studies have shown that 80% of people who are released from the hospital don’t have a reliable ride home—making transportation a huge social determinant of health. Blue Highway and Aryv are working together to fix a transportation system that was not set up for rural community members.

“Rural America faces uncertain access to specific necessities, and transportation is oftentimes at the top of the list. Through the investment funds that CoBank and the Farm Credit System help facilitate, we can play a vital role to fund and grow these businesses—ensuring that rural communities are involved in upcoming innovation and technology,” said Dave Dornbirer, vice president of mission investments for CoBank.

CoBank is proud to partner with Blue Highway and its customer, Aryv, to bring reliable transportation to all parts of the country—giving peace of mind to people in rural America. 

This story was originally published in the CoBank 2023 Sustainability Report.