March 2022
Executive Director Travels to Washington, DC for NADO Meeting and to Meet with Finnish Embassy
In this photo: Samuli Kaijomaa, Andrea Boettger, Nicole Griensewic, Antti Niemelä
Region Nine Executive Director Nicole Griensewic and New Ulm City Council President Andrea Boettger traveled to Washington, DC this month to participate in the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) training workshop. This workshop focused on innovative approaches to planning and implementing Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS). Another focus of the workshop was to discuss the need for immigration reform and its effect on economic development.

Griensewic and Boettger also visited the Finnish Embassy to discuss their delegation's upcoming trip to Minnesota with the Head of Section for Sustainable Growth and Commerce Antti Niemelä, and the Counselor for Trade and Investment Samuli Kaijomaa. During the meeting, Griensewic presented them with a letter of support showcasing Southern Minnesota's trade-based economy and how a strong relationship with the region can be mutually beneficial.

Learn more about Boettger’s first NADO trip and her insights below.

What were some of your key takeaways from the NADO discussion?

Many of our regional communities are facing a similarity in challenges as we work to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and return to a greater sense of normalcy. Workforce shortages, lack of childcare options, and affordable housing are three particular topics I heard frequently from my peers, regardless of geographic region.

Many regions are taking creative approaches to address these issues, and having the opportunity to connect with other regional leaders to share ideas is paramount in helping rural communities move from striving to thriving.

How do you think NADO initiatives can impact our region?

NADO offers tremendous resources and programs aimed to advance economic development on a variety of fronts. By having such a large collaboration of organizations working together, our region has access to programs that address everything from infrastructure improvements, small business support, educational support, and greater access to broadband. By getting our region tapped into programs like these that address our needs and move our rural communities forward, our residents and businesses will benefit from greater access to services, and an improved quality of life.

How do you feel immigration reform can improve economic development in New Ulm and the region?

As a community, and as a region, like many others, we are struggling to fill available positions. In New Ulm specifically, manufacturing is perhaps the largest sector of our local economy, and our businesses are struggling to find enough staff. From the entry level to skilled and professional positions, our businesses are working to attract and retain talent not just locally, but nationally. Immigration reform and enhanced clarity around immigration would open doors not only for our manufacturers, but for those looking for a welcoming and safe community that has a high quality of life. With adequate staff levels, businesses could return to operating at full capacity and would provide them with growth opportunities that have been stifled due to lack of skilled staff.

What was your impression of the Finnish Embassy?

It was an incredible opportunity, and I was thankful for the experience. Annti and Samuli were very welcoming to us, and the Finns are looking forward to their upcoming visit to Minnesota.

The Finns are very on point with their aggressive approach to combating climate change. While it is known Finland is a leader in external practices to address climate change (wind, solar, wastewater, EVs), they are also digging deep into other ways to combat climate change that lean on new technologies designed to repurpose products, reduce and eliminate waste, and minimize water usage. They are proud of their position as one of the global leaders in this area and are enthusiastic about partnering with other countries to share their practices and learn from others. 

Our hope is that collaborative opportunities can emerge as a result of our conversations and are optimistic they will add some time to Southern Minnesota during their visit. We believe Southern Minnesota has a great story to share about how we are progressing and advancing our commitment to combating climate change, and are becoming more mindful consumers as a result.

Any highlights you'd like to mention from the trip?

I was very impressed with the conference, and the variety of topics addressed. Many communities and regions are still working to navigate their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic while address the gaps created in their communities. The subjects and speakers were relevant to our needs as a region, and the dialogue was helpful. It was great to see the diversity on the panels and am thankful for all the new connections made as a result of this trip.
Nate George joins Region Nine as Communications Specialist
Nate has joined Region Nine as the Communications Specialist. He's a Mankato native and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Sales and Marketing Management from South Central College.

Nate comes from the print and promotional industry, and brings with him experience in graphic design, marketing, and project management.
 “I am excited for the opportunity to join Region Nine and work with this amazing team. I have always admired the work that Region Nine does for the citizens of Southern Minnesota and I'm proud to be apart it.”

—Nate George
Public Meeting on MnDOT's Plan for Transportation Improvement
Region Nine and MnDOT will be reviewing District 7’s Area Transportation Improvement Program (ATIP). This meeting is free and open to the public. There will be a brief presentation and MnDOT staff will be available for questions and comments for the remainder of the open house.
When: Tuesday, March 29 from 5-6 p.m.

Location: Bridge Plaza, 201 N. Riverfront Dr, Mankato, MN 56001
The City of Madelia Awarded Safe Routes to School Planning Assistance Grant
The City of Madelia has been awarded a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Planning Assistance Grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). The SRTS programs work to improve safety, reduce traffic, and improve the air quality near schools. Region Nine will work with Madelia on a number of efforts, including an analysis of existing conditions, public outreach, and identification of potential solutions to help more children walk and bike safely to school.
Region Nine Tours KAMP Automation in Waseca
KAMP Automation
Region Nine joined representatives from Minnesota State University-Mankato, South Central College, and Waseca County for a tour of KAMP Automation in Waseca. Along with the tour, the group discussed strategies to recruit and retain engineering talent in the area.

The discussion included ways engage current students in high school and college. Another area of focus was promoting the area to recent graduates.
Share Your Thoughts on Transit in South Central Minnesota
Region Nine is working on the 2022 Local Human Services Transit Coordination Plan and seeking feedback about existing services, so we can identify where transit services are needed or need improvement. Feedback from this survey will help us and transit providers see where transit works well and where the region’s need are, and how we can plan accordingly.  
The survey will take approximately 5 minutes to complete and is available in three languages (English, Spanish, and Somali).
Please contact Region Nine at 507.387.5643 for further questions or if additional assistance is needed to complete the survey. 
Region Nine Offers Stipends to Underserved Farmers
Region Nine was awarded a grant by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to support local foods and historically underserved farmers in the region through various activities.

The purpose of stipends is to build the capacity of members of the Grower’s Network, including historically underserved farmers. Stipends may be used to attend conferences such as the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Services (MOSES), Sustainable Farming Association-Minnesota, Living Earth Center and others. Stipends will be awarded on a quarterly basis. Members may apply for a stipend to more than one conference.

Amount available: Up to $60 per stipend.

Deadline for stipends: June 30, 2022; September 30, 2022

Application Process: If interested in attending a conference, please complete the online application found below.

Reporting Process: Stipend Recipients must submit a brief report documenting conference registration and what they gained from the conference.
AURI Releases Their Food & Beverage Manufacturing Report
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) have published a report assessing the current state of "ready-to-scale" food and beverage businesses. The research conducted for the report identified opportunities that these businesses can capitalize on.
USDA Seeks Applications to Strengthen Community and Economic Development in Rural Communities
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants that will advance equity in rural communities through improvements in housing, community facilities, and community and economic development.

USDA is making the grants available under the Rural Community Development Initiative program. Qualified intermediaries may use the funds to improve housing and community facilities, and to implement community and economic development projects in rural areas.

Eligible applicants include public bodies and tribal authorities, nonprofit organizations and qualified for-profit organizations. Grants may be used to train sub-grantees to conduct educational training on homeownership or minority-owned business entrepreneurship. The grants also may be used to provide technical assistance to sub-grantees on the following:

  • strategic plan development
  • accessing alternative funding sources
  • training and resources for board operations, management, financial systems and information technology

Awardees must contribute matching funds equal to the amount of the grant.
Electronic applications will be accepted via

Electronic applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on April 19, 2022.

The deadline for paper applications is 4 p.m. local time, April 25, 2022.

For more information visit Rural Community Development Initiative webpage or contact

* Information provided by USDA Rural Development Newsletter
3rd Annual Recharge Mankato Expo
Join Recharge Mankato for their 3rd Annual Expo. The event will include an electric vehicle test drive and showcase and is free and open to the public. The expo takes place Saturday, April 9, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Mavericks All-Sports Dome.

Explore charging options, learn about the environmental and economic benefits of EVs, and how you can join the growing group of Minnesotans who drive clean.
Applications for the 2022 MN Cup Now Open
MN Cup is a startup competition and hub to direct mentorship, education and seed capital to the best new ventures in Minnesota. Ten companies in each division will be selected by these judges to move forward into the semifinalist round, which will take place between May 23rd and August 12th. Two subsequent rounds will further narrow the participants, ending at our Final Award Ceremony on Monday, September 19th.
Over $400,000 in prize money will be given away to competitors, with no equity taken or strings attached. Other benefits include mentorship opportunities with industry leaders, exclusive event access, business plan feedback, networking opportunities with potential investors, and media exposure.

The nine competition divisions are:
  • Education & Training
  • Energy/Clean Tech/Water
  • Food/Ag/Beverage
  • General
  • High Tech
  • Life Science/Health IT
  • Impact Ventures
  • Student
  • Youth
The application deadline is April 15, 2022, 23:59:59 CDT

* Information provided by MN Cup Application Page
Free Online Training Available for Minnesota Water Systems Decision Makers
The Minnesota Public Facilities Authority and the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina are offering a one-hour webinar for Minnesota Small Water Systems. This training session will cover capital planning and ways to communicate information to decision makers.

When: Wednesday, April 27 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Who Should Attend
  • Managers, owners, and operators of water systems serving less than 10,000 people
  • Decision-makers for water utilities, including mayors, finance officers, utility managers, public works directors, city councilors, board members, tribal council members, and clerks
  • Consultants and technical assistance providers serving water systems

MDH will grant 1 hour of training credit to all MN water operators who complete this webinar.
* Information provided by Minnesota Public Facilities Authority Newsletter
In the Media
HWY 14 Expansion to Begin in April -Read More

Judy Kuster Honored for 30 Years of Service to Brown County -Read More

EDA Honors the Country Butcher Shop -Read More
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Local Trail Connections Program

The Local Trail Connections Program provides grants to local units of government to promote relatively short trail connections between where people live and desirable locations, not to develop significant new trails. Funding for this grant program is from "In Lieu Of" lottery proceeds.

Eligible projects include acquisition and development of trail facilities. Projects must result in a trail linkage that is immediately available for use by the general public.

Deadline: March 31
USDA Grants to Strengthen Community and Economic Development to Benefit All People in Rural Communities

Eligible applicants must include one of the following:

  • Public bodies
  • Tribal authorities
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Qualified for-profit organizations
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants that will advance equity in rural communities through improvements in housing, community facilities, and community and economic development.

Deadline: April 19
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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