August 2021
Region Nine Welcomes Lead for MN Fellow
Sabri Fair is a recent graduate of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in Environmental Studies and Geology. Sabri is joining the Region Nine Development Commission as a Lead for Minnesota Sustainability Fellow. In this role, he will be working to foster a more sustainable and equitable economy in South Central Minnesota. He is excited to work with community members on existing projects and to envision new developments that will make the region economically resilient. To do this, Sabri will draw on his life experiences growing up on a farm in Michigan, living in Zanzibar, and his internships with organizations like Land O’Lakes. He is excited to learn from everyone he meets along the way and serve communities as they create economies they are excited about! Sabri is also looking forward to exploring the natural beauty and food that the region has to offer.
Region Nine Joins Delegation to Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia
Region Nine's Executive Director Nicole Griensewic will attend the Climate Smart Municipalities (CSM) delegation to Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) from September 11-18, 2021. Region Nine is an active member of the CSM group, has hosted a Clean Energy Tour in March 2020, and became a regional partner this year.

The delegation will have 28-32 members. Members represent the cities of Duluth, Morris, Rochester, Warren, White Bear Lake, along with state government, counties, business, and the education and nonprofit sectors.

The 2021 CSM workshop seminar in Germany emphasizes the idea of building integrated energy, sustainability, and climate solutions and the need to partner with the entire set of stakeholders in order to arrive at the best solutions. Cities play a special role in pioneering solutions and new policy. The visit will focus on three NRW cities that each show comprehensive approaches in building sustainable clean energy economies.

The delegation will first spend time in Muenster, a regional center with approximately 300,000 people and a long-time leader in sustainability, energy efficient buildings, and clean transportation with its electric and hydrogen buses and robust bicycle infrastructure. Next, the delegation will move to the small community of Saerbeck to visit and learn about their bio-energy park and how it will help achieve the city's goal of being powered entirely by renewable energy. Finally, the delegation will end the week in the city of Luedenscheid where they will take part in climate-smart forest tree planting.

The 12-15 members of the delegation representing state government, politics, business and research will visit a large waste management company, connect with leaders in one of the cities damaged by the recent rain floods, and visit with leadership of the NRW state ministry of environment, agriculture, and consumer and nature protection while the city delegation members work with their city technical partners on three days. One event, a large networking dinner, is designed to connect NRW regional leaders with the full Minnesota delegation.
About CSM

Climate-Smart Municipalities (CSM) is a multi-partner inter-generational collaboration between Minnesota and Germany with twelve cities at its core.

CSM connects diverse international stakeholders and leaders in local and state government, politics, business, the nonprofit sector, academia, and the public to learn from each other and to accelerate the transition to a more efficient and climate-friendly energy future at the local level. Sustainability, climate protection, climate adaptation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency are central topics for this international exchange.

The CSM project is a part of the International Energy Partnerships Project at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. CSM is supported with funding from Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) through the European Recovery Program's (ERP) Transatlantik-Programm der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.
Developing a Regional Equity and Inclusion Plan

Region Nine is working to develop a South Central Minnesota Equity and Inclusion Plan that will provide an overview of equity and inclusion in a regional context. In this five-year plan, data, strategies, and solutions are given that aim to build a more inclusive economy, attract and retain new talent, and reduce inequality to improve the lives of our residents. The four cornerstones of human capital, economic development, infrastructure, and environmental resilience provide the framework through which we tackle these topics.

As part of this project, we aim to publicly share the successes and setbacks of individuals and businesses within the region in hopes that we can learn and grow in collaboration with one another.
Thank you!

Region Nine Development Commission would like to thank the numerous individuals who are contributing time, energy, and sharing their stories and experiences in the creation of this plan.

Financial support for this plan was provided by the Bush Foundation where equity is central to their purpose. The Bush Foundation works to inspire and support creative problem solving, within and across sectors, to make their region better for everyone.
Welcoming Week 2021
This #WelcomingWeek2021, September 10-19, we celebrate our communities across Minnesota. No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re here. #BelongingBeginsWithUS

Whether it’s starting a new job, changing schools or neighborhoods, we all know how it feels to not belong. That’s why we’re celebrating #WelcomingWeek2021 — because we want to ensure that everyone feels like they belong in our communities. When that happens, communities can fully harness the strengths, talents, and contributions of each person to build shared prosperity.

Join Region Nine and the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations and be part of the growing movement of people declaring #BelongingBeginsWithUS 
Annual Broadband Conference: Regional Gathering
Region Nine Development Commission along with Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, SE MN Together, Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities is hosting a South Central and Southeast Regional broadband conference on connectivity, access, adoption, and prioritization for south central and southeast Minnesota. With support from Blandin Foundation and the MN Office of Broadband Development the conference will take place on Thursday, September 16 from 10:00-12:30 p.m. It will be a virtual event and registration is now open.
On the agenda for the conference are speakers from Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition, Red Wing Ignite, and Le Sueur County’s Broadband Initiative. The conference will begin with mapping the challenge; followed by examples of access and adoption; concluding with an attendees share out session on regional prioritization as communities consider how to use American Recovery Act funds for broadband investments. Now is a good time to ask:

  • Who is being served?
  • Who is being left behind?
  • What are our opportunities to collaborate or stretch dollars?
  • How will we maximize these investments to spur equitable economic recovery?
  • What action steps are needed at the local level to support successful implementation?
Feedback gathered during the conference will be compiled with other regional conference findings and incorporated into the Blandin Foundation’s statewide conference BUILDING ON BROADBAND: Inspiring Progress taking place October 12-14.
National Small Business Week
The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced its 2021 National Small Business Week Virtual Summit for September 13-15, 2021. This year’s events will spotlight the resilience of America’s entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business economy as they build back better from the economic crisis brought on by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. The virtual summit will honor the nation’s 30 million small businesses for their perseverance, ingenuity, triumphs, and creativity.

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced National Small Business Week in a video message. “As the voice for America’s 30 million small businesses and innovative startups, it’s my pleasure to announce the SBA’s annual National Small Business Week Summit,” said Administrator Guzman. “Over the last 16 months, we have seen the incredible determination and ingenuity of small businesses across the nation. During NSBW, we will honor and celebrate their impact on our economy and strengthening of communities as we look towards recovery. NSBW is the perfect time for small businesses across the nation to network and learn about the many services and programs at the U.S. Small Business Administration, including our no-cost business counseling and mentoring opportunities available via our district offices and resource partners. We look forward to celebrating with you as we rebuild our economy and help our small businesses build back better.”

This year’s National Small Business Week activities will take place in a virtual atrium and will include numerous educational panels providing retooling and innovative practices for entrepreneurs as small businesses look to pivot and recover toward a stronger economy.

The SBA, along with summit partner SCORE — the nation's largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors — will share important information about the many programs and services available to help businesses start and grow, build resilience and support, retain employees, discover new markets, and join key networks.

The National Small Business Week Virtual Summit will also include representatives from Fortune 500 companies who will discuss their paths to success and share resources to help businesses on their entrepreneurial journey. Highlights of the summit will include virtual booths to develop one-on-one connections with public and private sector partners to create opportunities for collaboration and information-sharing in real-time. In addition, small business participants can learn more about new business strategies, meet other business owners, and talk with industry experts. Speakers will be announced at a later date.
MnDOT seeks public input for the District 7 Freight Plan through September 13
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) invites the public to provide feedback on opportunities and challenges for freight mobility in south-central Minnesota as part of the District 7 Freight Plan development process. A virtual open house website sharing information about the freight transportation system is now open and will be accepting comments through Monday, September 13:

Virtual open house participants can share their feedback through an online survey. Community members can also provide their ideas for freight mobility by leaving a voicemail at ‪507-320-9586.

Public input will be incorporated in the District 7 Freight Plan. This plan will help MnDOT understand how freight businesses and local communities use the transportation system, and will allow MnDOT to make better- informed policy and planning decisions that affect commercial trucks, trains, planes, and pipelines. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars share infrastructure with freight, so addressing freight needs and issues will help make Minnesota’s transportation system more safe, efficient, and well-maintained for all transportation users.

MnDOT invites and encourages participation by all. If you need an ASL, a foreign language interpreter, or other reasonable accommodation, or need documents in an alternative format (such as braille or large print) for this event, please email your request to Janet Miller at or call 651-366-4720.
Did you know that Region Nine administers multiple Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) programs year round?

Region Nine welcomes partnering with other lenders to assist local businesses to succeed and thrive.
Region Nine's RLF programs assist existing businesses, as well as new entrepreneurs, in securing financing they are otherwise unable to secure through traditional channels.

The primary goal of the program is to create new jobs, or retain existing jobs, in the region. Preference is given to businesses that will add full-time skilled or semi-skilled positions. Region Nine assists businesses in areas including, but not limited to, retail services, food services, manufacturing, and child care.

The source of funding is the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA). Some specific guidelines may apply.

CARES Act funding available! Loans can range from $10,000 to $100,000. The first two years will have 0% interest, followed by 2% interest for the remainder of the loan term.
Making LinkedIn Work for Your Small Business
Friday, September 10
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

Hubbard Building
424 N Riverfront Dr.
Mankato, MN 56001
LinkedIn has 740 million users and is the #1 platform for business professionals. Whether you are a consultant, B2B business looking for more customers, or simply recruiting your business can benefit from a strong presence on LinkedIn has become critical for small businesses. Learn the basics of setting up a LinkedIn company page, defining and achieving goals on LinkedIn, and how and why to encourage employees to engage on LinkedIn.

This event is FREE to attend and open to the public.
Region Nine has an immediate opening for a Lending Specialist. 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.
In the Media
Waseca-based nonprofit starts second year of fighting 'brain drain' - Read More
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Main Street Economic Revitalization Program

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will oversee the Main Street Economic Revitalization Program approved by the Minnesota State Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Walz on June 29, 2021.
This program, through a Request for Proposals, will make grants to nonprofit partner organizations to fund 30% matching grants up to $750,000 and guaranteed loans up to $2,000,000 to eligible recipients for eligible projects that are designed to address the greatest economic development and redevelopment needs that have arisen in communities across Minnesota since March 15, 2020.

Deadline: August 31, 2021
Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program

The Emergency Rural Health Care program is designed to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities. 
Rural health care is challenged by immediate financial needs stemming from COVID-19 related expenses. Long-term access to – and availability of – rural health care services have been further hampered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to these challenges, this program offers two tracks of funding to eligible applicants.

Deadline: October 12, 2021
Calendar of Events
September 10: Clean Energy Forum
September 11-18: CSM Delegation to Germany
September 21: TRUE Tuesdays
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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