Region Nine Welcomes Five New Commissioners
During the Region Nine Commission meeting on January 11th, five new commissioners were appointed to the Region Nine Development Commission governing body. The Commission is governed by 38 regional leaders representing cities, counties, townships, school districts, health and human welfare, minority populations, the Minnesota Valley Council of Government, and youth.  

Anton Berg
Anton "Tony" Berg, Brown County Commissioner: Commissioner Anton Berg is a recently elected Brown County Commissioner. He was raised on a dairy farm near New Ulm. Currently, Commissioner Berg is farming and is the owner of Tony Berg Construction, LLC. He enjoys playing music as a member of the Bockfest Boys. 

Chera Sevcik
Chera Sevcik, Health and Human Welfare Commissioner: Commissioner Chera Sevcik is a native of Southern Minnesota. For six years, Commissioner Sevcik oversaw the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership efforts aimed at reducing chronic diseases and their associated high medical costs. In 2014, she was promoted to Community Health Administrator in Human Services for Faribault & Martin Counties where she oversees the local Public Health Department in a bi-county agency. 

Mohamed Ibrahim, Minority Populations: Commissioner Mohamed Ibrahim is originally from Somalia and has a medical background in trauma surgery. He has served at hospitals throughout East Africa with Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of Red Cross. He arrived to the U.S. in 2014 and now calls Mankato home. Commissioner Ibrahim is currently working as a Refugee Health Specialist: Community Health Worker for Mankato Refugee Services. 

Ruth Cyphers
Ruth Cyphers, City of Fairmont:
 Commissioner Ruth Cyphers is a recently elected city council member for Fairmont where she owns two small businesses, AdMfg, Inc. and SewMfg, Inc. Fairmont is her hometown and she recently purchased her childhood home as a fixer-upper. In her spare time, you will find her volunteering for just about any cause, working on her home, spending time with her three grandchildren, kayaking the lakes, streams and rivers or motorcycling the highways and bi-ways of the Midwest. 

Robert Goblirsch
Robert Goblirsch, Brown County Townships: Commissioner Robert Goblirsch was born and raised in Brown County. Currently, he is a farmer of livestock, grain and vegetables. Commissioner Goblirsch is in his second term on the Stark Township Board.

Jim Whitlock
Jim Whitlock, City of North Mankato: Commissioner Jim Whitlock has been the owner of Brick House Graphics since 1985. He serves as the Executive Director of the Business on Belgrade Association and actively participates in various other committees and boards. Commissioner Whitlock is a recently elected city council member for North Mankato. 
The Innovation Index
By: Brent Pearson, Resource Development Planner

By all indications, the economy of south central Minnesota is flourishing. The unemployment rate is down to three percent, earnings are well below above traditional distress criteria, and the region has a robust base of jobs in manufacturing, health care, retail trade and educational services. All the traditional measures of a strong economy are present. Now what?

Light bulb
Innovation is a key driver to economic growth. Some economists project that nearly half of the total U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is tied to advances in innovation. A core value in assessing economies at the macro level - a large scale economy, including all industries, variables, production, and output of a region - is that the more a region creates, refines, and builds upon a product or a service, the better and more creative a region gets at it and the more likely it is to market that product or service. Nokia, for example, was a king in the cell phone industry but has found the seas much more treacherous in today's world of advanced mobile super devices. Innovation does not automatically assume success in business. Marketing, branding and connecting the product to hungry buyers are still the staples to successfully selling a product or service. At a macroeconomic scale, the ability to measure innovation captures insights into the health of an economy now and in the future. 
Region Nine Assists with $3.4-Million Broadband Infrastructure Project

Region Nine served as the project manager and grant writer for a successful $1,677,823 Border-to-Border Broadband grant award to bring high-speed internet to underserved portions of Martin County.  The grant will serve as state match to the $3.4-million project. Martin County, in partnership with Frontier Communications, will help meet the service needs of 1,784 unserved households, 51 unserved businesses, and nine unserved community institutions.

Madelia Launches Multi-Tiered Planning Process 

Madelia Idea Boards
The City of Madelia has officially launched a multi-tiered planning process to provide a roadmap for the future development of Madelia.  Over the next 18 months, the City of Madelia will be partnering directly with the community and Region Nine Development Commission to develop three individual plans: a comprehensive plan, an economic resiliency plan, and a marketing strategy. 

The City of Madelia is providing an opportunity on January 19th for residents and business owners to learn more about this process, as well as the services the city provides. This event will be held at the Madelia VFW/Legion, 1st Street NE, from 5:15 - 7:00 p.m. A wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres will be available during the event. 
Are Growers Facing the Same Challenges as You?  

Ever wonder if other growers are facing the same challenges as you? Are you curious about expanding in size, sales types or product mix but could use some advice? Interested in connecting with other growers in the area? The South Central Minnesota Growers Network may be a good fit for you!


Join fellow growers at the Minnesota Valley Action Council, home of the Mankato Food Hub, on January 27th for the kick-off of the South Central MN Growers Network. This network will provide the opportunity for participants to explore challenges and share insights with each other, similar to other successful peer to peer models across the state. During the event you will learn more about the network, be able to ask questions, and sign-up to participate.
The January event is hosted by Region Nine Development Commission and professional facilitator Greg Thomas. Come to learn more about this opportunity and have face-to-face interactions with the facilitator and your local peers. 

When: Friday, January 27 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. 
Meeting Room 131 A&B, 706 N Victory Dr, Mankato 
Enter through the MVAC doors, not the Food Hub or Thrift Shop.
Who: Farmers and producers of local foods
Did you know?
The City of Eagle Lake has the highest population growth rate in the Region Nine area. Eagle Lake's 2015 population estimate indicated growth of more than 17% from 2010 to 2015.
Grant Funding Opportunities
Rural Broadband Access Loans and Loan Guarantees Program The Rural Utilities Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture, announces that it is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2017 for the Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee program (the Broadband Program). There will be two application windows for FY 2017. The first application submission will be from March 1, 2017 through March 31, 2017 and the second application window will be from September 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. Learn More

Incentive Grants As part of its effort to invest in economic growth within the region, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is offering $100,000 in Incentive Grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations or units/agencies of local, state, or federal government. Grants up to $20,000 are available to support collaborative projects or programs in early childhood and economic development areas. Applications for this grant round are due February 28, 2017, with awards announced in May.   Learn More
Upcoming Events
January 19 | 5:15 - 7:00 p.m.
City of Madelia Open House
Madelia VFW/Legion, 1st Street NE, Madelia

January 27 | 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.
Social Media Breakfast - New Ulm | Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics
Best Western Plus, 2101 S. Broadway, New Ulm

January 27 | 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
South Central Minnesota Growers Network Kick-Off
Minnesota Valley Action Council, 706 N Victory Dr., Mankato

January 31 | 8:30 - 10:00 a.m. 
Vintage Ballroon, 129 Central Ave N, Faribault

February 6 | 12:30 - 2:30 p.m.
Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting
Minnesota Valley Room, Intergovernmental Center, Mankato

February 8 | 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
Board of Directors Meeting
Mankato Room, Intergovernmental Center, Mankato