January 2021
Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV)
The Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) program is all about finding and igniting existing entrepreneurs in communities. By adopting a “grow your own” approach to entrepreneur development, the REV model helps community grow from within. The REV program helps rural communities create more vibrant economies by finding and supporting local entrepreneurs – from business startups to existing businesses that want to grow.

The 2021 – 2023 REV cohort includes the communities of Montgomery (Le Sueur County), Springfield (Brown County), Wells (Faribault County) and Mapleton (in collaboration with the additional Maple River School District communities of Amboy, Good Thunder and Minnesota Lake – Blue Earth/Faribault Counties).
Wells getting all REV’ed up
Ready to start 3-year program January 2021

By Chuck Hunt - Editor, Faribault Country Register

The city of Wells is getting ready to be all “REV’ed” up for 2021.

Back in November, the city learned they had been selected to be one of four cities in the 20-county southern Minnesota area to participate in the Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) program.

REV is a program of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF). Included as part of the three year program is a $7,500 grant, which is paid out at $2,500 each year.

Also included is a “coach” from either SMIF or one of its partners in the REV program; Region Nine Development Commission and the University of Minnesota Extension Service. The coach helps guide the community through their three-year REV commitment.

Linda Wallace, a senior financial accountant/RLF assistant at Region Nine will be the Wells REV coach.

“The Wells EDA (Economic Development Authority) led the effort for us to apply for this program,” city administrator CJ Holl says. “It was quite a competition.”
Region Nine Development Commission Looking to Fill Open Vacancies
RNDC Receives EDA Investment Award for COVID-19 Recovery Plan
The federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded $74, 552 to Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) in order to establish a disaster and economic recovery plan for the region. This plan will build the foundation for regional economic resiliency by identifying resources that can be utilized when economic disruptions happen.

RNDC will be working closely with industry and community partners in the development of a COVID-19 recovery plan for the regional manufacturing clusters that have already been impacted by flooding in 2019 and trade uncertainties in 2019 and 2020. During the planning process, there will be opportunities for community members, academic institutions, industry partners, and public entities to provide input. This plan will act as a tool to support the relationship between the manufacturing sector in the economy and the rural and urban communities throughout South Central Minnesota.

“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising economic inequalities, and what appears to be an increasing urban-rural divide have contributed to economic uncertainties not experienced in the U.S. for several generations. One constant appears to remain during the social and economic upheaval of the moment; the nation is facing, and will continue to face, a mismatch between qualifications of the current workforce and industrial demand. This manifests itself in critical labor shortages across industries and geographic markets. This is particularly true in South Central Minnesota where manufacturing still accounts for more than 20 percent of all jobs, many of which require a highly skilled workforce,” shared Executive Director Nicole Griensewic.

The CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on March 27, 2020, providing the EDA with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
Provide feedback on issues and opportunities for the Hwy 169 Corridor Study
The Mankato/North Mankato Area Planning Organization (MAPO) and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are requesting feedback to confirm the issues and opportunities for improvements on Highway 169 and help guide the development of draft design alternatives for a future corridor layout. Provide your feedback through their online virtual open house by January 28, 2021.
Still looking for a New Year’s resolution?

If you haven’t decided on a New Year’s resolution yet, you hope to lead a healthier life, and you want to support the local economy, this year choose to shop at the local farmers’ market.

For the past 40 years, the Mankato Farmers’ Market has become a primary provider of locally grown foods to most residents in the region. It offers a wide variety of products from fresh eggs, meats, produce, and fruits to fresh flowers, plants, baked and homemade products, fruit preserves, artisanal handicrafts, and more.

Despite all the challenges and disruptions caused by the pandemic to food supply chains, the Mankato Farmers’ Market continues to provide community members access to healthy food. The farmers’ market also promotes sustainability by requiring vendors “to make or produce their goods wholly or substantially from within 40 miles of Mankato.” Moreover, contrary to the popular myth, products at farmers’ markets are affordable and often priced the same or even less than at conventional grocery stores. Some other reasons to visit the local farmers’ market is that it helps residents to come together and connect while supporting local family farms and artisans. It also keeps the money you spend in your local economy, and it is a local source of jobs.
Keep yourself accountable to this resolution by marking your calendars for the farmers’ market winter season dates. During the winter season, the market convenes at 281 Saint Andrews Drive (Drummers Garden Center). Their next event is February 6th, from 10:00 to noon. During the regular season (May-October), the market meets at 1895 Adams Street (Best Buy parking lot).

For students, faculty, and staff at Minnesota State University Mankato interested in visiting the farmers’ market at their Best Buy location, there are free shuttle buses available on Saturday. These bus services are open to the public for $1.50.

This year don't forget your local farmers' market when setting your New Year’s resolution list!

By: Alejandra Bejarano, Lead for Minnesota Fellow
Sources: Mankato Farmers’ Market. (2021). About Us. Mankato Farmers’ Market. https://www.mankatofarmersmarket.com/about-us/
About the Rural Engagement Initiative
The Rural Engagement Initiative (REI) is a group of young professionals, led by Region Nine interns and fellows, that look at topics of diversity, inclusion, equity, and sustainability. REI aims to highlight community members, businesses, and community projects and practices within South Central Minnesota that support community, economic, and sustainable development. The group will be presenting new and engaging content each month that will resonate with all age groups. REI believes that engagement from all community members will not only help, but is essential, for regional resiliency and growth.
In the Media
Region Nine awarded funding for disaster and economic recovery plan- Read more

Collaboration is the way to move forward- Read More

Language barrier plays toll on COVID-19 testing accessibility- Read more

COVID-19 vaccine pilot site gets off the ground- Read more

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation awards $160,000 in Inclusive and Equitable Communities Grants- Read more

Greater Minnesota’s communities respond to calls for racial understanding- Read more

SMIF awards $160,000 in Inclusive and Equitable Communities Grants- Read more

Wells getting all REV’ed up- Read more
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Watonwan County Business Relief Funds

Watonwan County received $250,000 State funding to provide economic relief for grants to small businesses and non-profits adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant funding may only be used for operational expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The operating expenses are defined as the day-to-day operations; such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, inventory, etc.

Priority is as follows:

  • Tier 1) Businesses/non-profits impacted directly and indirectly by Executive Order 2020-99.
  • Tier 2) Applicants that did not receive CARES Act grant relief.
  • Tier 3) If funds remain, all other applicants based on demonstrated economic impact from COVID-19 pandemic.


Deadline: February 12, 2021
Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) Funding Opportunity

SECD funding is authorized through a Farm Bill provision that supports regional economic and community development planning.

SECD supports projects that promote and implement strategic community investment plans. These plans use the unique strengths of rural communities to advance prosperity. USDA Rural Development helps finance these projects to build community prosperity by using community assets, identifying resources, convening partners and leveraging federal, state, local or private funding. 

Applicants who are applying for SECD funding through a loan guarantee program may submit forms under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative application guidelines.


Status: Open
Calendar of Events
February 15: Office Closed
About Region Nine
Region Nine Development Commission takes great pride in working with and on behalf of counties, cities, townships, and schools throughout South Central Minnesota. Since 1972, being a partner for progress has led to the development of programs and identification of solutions in the areas of economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.rndc.org.
Follow Region Nine on social media to stay up-to-date on events, news, and more!