May 2021
Region Nine Welcomes New Summer Intern
A graduate of DeLaSalle High School and a Minneapolis native, Claudia attends The College of Wooster in Ohio, America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Majoring in economics and minoring in math and sociology, she is pursuing a career in environmental economics. As an avid athlete, she runs track for her college and was honored with All-Academic in 2020. In her free time, she enjoys sailing, hiking, and reading.

This internship is a great opportunity for me to get experience in the public sector while learning about economic development. It is important for me to get real-world experience to apply the skills I’ve learned at school. I am excited to contribute a viewpoint of environmental justice to the development work within Region Nine. 
Senator Klobuchar Hosts Virtual Roundtable Discussion
Sen. Amy Klobuchar held a virtual roundtable on April 30th with county commissioners from Le Sueur, Martin, and Sibley Counties to discuss COVID's economic impact as well as short and long-term recovery for Region Nine.

RNDC County Commissioners, Chair Steve Rohlfing, Le Sueur County, Christian Lilienthal, Sibley County, whom are board members for RNDC, and Elliot Belgard, Martin County, conveyed four main priorities that must be focused on in order for rural counties to recover from the pandemic:

  • More funding to expand broadband
  • Regulations to allow the continuation of telemedicine
  • More highway and transportation funding
  • More funding and aid for small businesses

“We want to make sure the rural areas aren’t forgotten. We have Republicans and Democrats divided over the bill, but as you’re aware in Minnesota we have the urban and rural divide.” Klobuchar said she believes the wide expansion of high-speed broadband across the country is in sight as both parties are behind it. (Source: Mankato Free Press)

Broadband is still a very important issue as so many rural areas still lack adequate access to service. With the CARES Act there was $10 million in broadband funding and more is being proposed in the upcoming infrastructure bill. Commissioner Rohlfing mentioned that in addition to broadband and transportation funding, which county commissioners are hoping rural needs will be addressed in the new infrastructure bill, regulations regarding the continuation of telemedicine are also needed. Current regulations are designed to support in-person visits rather than telemedicine due to rules on reimbursement. For many in rural counties, telemedicine has become a viable and needed option.

Funding and aid for small businesses is still a priority across Region Nine and the country. New federal funding is available with the Restaurant Revitalization Fund which provides funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. Recipients are not required to repay the money as long as funds are used for eligible uses.

RNDC has Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) CARES Act funding available to help your business! RNDC has also given out about $528,000 in federal grants to businesses in industries including steel and metal fabricating, construction, food and beverage, child care, and more. Loans can range from $10,000 to $200,000 at 0% interest for the first two years and then 2% interest, thereafter.
Region Nine Seeks Input for the CEDS
Region Nine is in the process of developing its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a document that will serve as a tool to guide regional economic development efforts for the next five years. A CEDS contributes to effective economic development in communities and regions through locally based, regionally driven economic development planning processes.

A CEDS is designed to: 

  • Be an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies 
  • Serve as a guide for establishing regional goals and objectives 
  • Be a regional plan for implementation and action 
  • Identify investment priorities and funding sources 

To create a CEDS that truly reflects the needs and priorities of the region, we would like to get as much feedback as possible from residents and business owners. Your voice and opinion matter and will allow us to better understand and meet the needs of residents throughout the region. 

This survey is available in both English and Spanish and will take approximate 5-10 minutes to complete. If you need additional assistance in order to take the survey, please reach out to me Corree Johnson Stamschror at
Region Nine will be holding it's next Full Commission meeting on June 16, 2021, from 6-8pm at Turner Hall in New Ulm, MN. Prior to the meeting an open house will take place from 5-6pm where commissioners will have an opportunity to talk with staff about ongoing and upcoming projects. If you are not a member of the Full Commission but are interested in attending the open house, are a commissioner unable to attend, or have further questions, please contact Heather Bartelt at
Are you, or someone you know, active within the region and interested in serving your community through local government?
Region Nine is inviting applications to serve as a public interest commissioner, representing either minority populations, health and human welfare, or high school age youth. This is an excellent opportunity for those who advocate for public interests to have and use their voice and background in local and regional governance.
Steady state has been the definition of Minnesota’s current response to testing and vaccinations. As the decreased testing demand, cases, and test positivity rates continue, the partnership with communities and the state operated sites are sunsetting. The emphasis now is to ensure community members know where to receive either testing or vaccination services.

How Minnesotans Can Get a COVID-19 Test:

How Minnesotans Can Get their Shot:
Mankato COVID-19 testing site relocating to Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center
Site will offer no-cost saliva testing to everyone

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced the Mankato community testing site currently located at the former Gander Mountain will be moving to Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center located at 1 Civic Center Plaza in Mankato. The last day of testing at the former Gander Mountain site was Sunday, May 23. Testing at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center will begin on Monday, June 7. Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments are also encouraged but not required.

“Even as we continue to make progress on vaccinations, testing remains a key component of our strategy to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “Through a robust, collaborative statewide testing program, we removed many obstacles to testing as we bridged the gap between a time before vaccines and today. When combined with social distancing, masking, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick, testing can help us slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect Minnesotans under 12 and those who aren’t fully vaccinated yet as we continue to get as many folks vaccinated as possible.”

As with all the state’s community testing sites, testing at the Mankato site is offered at no cost. Participants will be asked for their health insurance information, so the state can bill their insurance company on their behalf. If a person is uninsured or if insurance doesn’t cover some or all of the cost, the state will cover the difference so testing remains open to all at no cost.

Testing is open to anyone who believes they need a COVID-19 test, with or without insurance. State guidance on who should get tested can be found on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response webpage: Who Should Get Tested?.

Those who arrive for a test should avoid eating, drinking, chewing, or smoking anything for at least 30 minutes before providing a sample. Once they arrive at the location, they will self-administer the test by salivating into a funnel attached to a small tube. Clinic staff will be available on-site to monitor the collection process.

While walk-ins are welcome, people seeking testing at the Mankato site can schedule a test online. Tests will be processed in Minnesota at the saliva lab in Oakdale. Results will be provided via email in approximately 48-72 hours.

Testing Site Location:
Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center
1 Civic Center Plaza
Mankato, MN 56001

Hours of Operation:
Monday-Thursday (beginning June 7)         
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
An Interview With an RNDC Intern
As part of RNDC's Rural Engagement Initiative
Written by Camila Bejarano, RNDC Intern
Brianna Sanders, a current intern at Region Nine Development Commission, grew up on a farm outside of St. James, Minnesota. In May 2021, she graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and minors in Leadership, Political Science, and Sustainability Studies. Brianna started in the Political Science department her freshman year but later switched to Economics since she liked the mathematical portion of economics. "It is less about an opinion and more about facts," she stated. Brianna values her learning experience at the U of M, and she describes it as challenging but rewarding.
Brianna moved from St. James to Minneapolis in 2017 to begin her studies at the University of Minnesota, where she participated in different clubs and started a new community, the Rural Student Association. Minneapolis offers a lot of activities and events around the school area. "There is always something new to try in Minneapolis," Brianna says, and it is one of the reasons why she likes the Twin Cities.

In June 2020, Brianna returned to St. James and started working at Region Nine Development Commission as an economic development intern after her dad, who was on the Region Nine Board a couple of years ago, recommended that she apply for an internship. At Region Nine, Brianna attends committee and stakeholder meetings. She also works on research and data collection on agricultural, transportation, clean energy, and sustainability topics. Her involvement in different projects has taught her how economic development shapes the region. Brianna describes this as an exciting and unique learning experience. She has also been able to apply her course material to the work she does at Region Nine. Outside of Region Nine, Brianna had worked at a local government law firm as a legal administrative assistant in the zoning, planning, and bonds departments.

Having a deep interest in urban and rural development, Brianna utilized her economics capstone project to propose a model that improves the state of rural America. Brianna evaluated the differences between rural and urban areas, specifically around brain drain. She was interested in seeing how rural and urban development both have competitive and comparative advantages independent of each other. Eventually, Brianna hopes to use this project to support rural development.

In the future, Brianna would like to continue working on her capstone project and learn more about the rural and urban divide. She also wants to increase her knowledge in agricultural and environmental topics and thus aspires to obtain a Ph.D. in Applied Economics with a concentration in agriculture.
Brianna's last day interning with Region Nine Development Commission is today, May 28, 2021. Region Nine staff would like to congratulate her on her recent graduation and completion of her internship. We wish her the best in her future endeavors and look forward to seeing how her career progresses. Congrats, Brianna!

We would also like to thank the South Central Service Cooperative for their partnership and support of Region Nine's internship program.
June 9, 2021 12:30 - 4:30 | June 10, 2021 8:00 - 12:00
Early Bird Registration by May 28 - $35 | After May 28 - $40
Scholarships available upon request: To request a scholarship contact 507-375-4517 or
Registration link:

"The Building Bridges Summit is an opportunity to hear authentic voices, build relationships, begin candid conversations, and share resources in order to create more equitable, vibrant communities."

Keynote speakers:
Wednesday, June 9 Dr. Verna Price

Engaging Communities in the Work of Equity and Equality

Tina Turner once said 'what's love got to do with it?" My answer is EVERYTHING! We can ask the same question of equity and equality. What does equity and equality have to do with my community, with influencing race relations in my community, with elevating the consciousness around eradicating racism from our communities? EVERYTHING!! Dr. Verna will provide us with strategies on how to engage in these conversations at a level where we will commit to doing the work needed to create the changes we want to see in our communities: change that will benefit ALL of us!
Thursday, June 10 | Dr. Ramón Pastrano

Being an Effective Leader in the 21st Century: The Role of Unconscious Bias and the Power of Making the Unconscious Conscious

Everyone has unwritten scripts and biases. It is what makes us humans! We often make questionable decisions because mental distortions and biases sabotage our reasoning. Scientific research has demonstrated how these unconscious, automatically activated, and pervasive mental processes can be manifested across a variety of contexts producing significant impacts. When we unconsciously link whole groups of people with an attribute or behavior, we might make an implicit association that may be in direct conflict with our stated values and beliefs. And, because these actions happen in our unconscious, they may cause us to be unfair even when we think we are being fair. As we seek to lead in transformational ways among multicultural diverse groups, it is important to identify those mental processes which affect social judgments and operate without our conscious awareness or conscious control. This immersive interactive session includes exercises and small group discussions.
Breakout Sessions on: action Ideas for bringing communities together; BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) voices sharing lived experiences; education on cultural, ethnic and racial diversity; resources for building community relationships and capacity; culturally responsive efforts in local communities; understanding racism and becoming anti-racist
The Lending Specialist will assist in the administration of the Revolving Loan Fund program, and other duties as it relates to fostering entrepreneurship and providing access to capital. This position will facilitate a department transition of the program and will advance to the primary administrator of the lending program.

Work areas may include providing technical assistance to local units of government, businesses, and the general public on a variety of planning and development topics, such as Revolving Loan Funds, economic development, workforce development, and community development.
Region Nine will be looking to hire a Transportation Planner in the near future! The position will be posted on our website soon. If you are interested in learning more please contact Leah Petricka, Community Development Director, at
In the Media
Emerging leaders bring new perspectives- Read More

Area commissioners' top issues: broadband, highways, telemedicine- Read More

Klobuchar talks economic recovery plans for Region 9

Parade of lights seen over parts of Minnesota spurs curiosity- Read More
Coping with Crisis When you are exposed to traumatic events, such as a natural disaster or the COVID-19 pandemic, most people show signs of stress. This is normal. Over time these feelings should decrease. Until they do, there are things you can do to help relieve stress.

Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector now available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.

Connect with a COVID Community Coordinator that fits your needs with the ability to search by cultural community, language, or county.

$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program in Minnesota

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it has implemented a series of actions to make it easier for very small rural businesses to get access to capital.

The Department published a final rule outlining changes to the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). The program provides loans and grants to microenterprise development organizations to help them establish revolving loan programs to assist microenterprises, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees. It also provides annual funding to development organizations to conduct training and provide technical assistance to microloan borrowers.

Deadline: continuous basis
Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure (TEDI) Program

The Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure (TEDI) program is created to foster interagency coordination between the Departments of Transportation and Employment and Economic Development to finance public infrastructure to create economic development opportunities, jobs, and improve all types of transportation systems statewide. The Department of Transportation has additional funds available for trunk highway costs. Those funds and funding are coordinated with the TEDI program. The MnDOT Transportation Economic Development program (TED) funds are awarded through a separate application.

Deadline: August 27, 2021
Calendar of Events
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
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