November 2021
Region Nine Participates in Trade Mission: UK & Finland
The environmental delegation met with BritishAmerican Business in London, United Kingdom in a round table discussion.
Region Nine Executive Director Nicole Griensewic represented the region during Governor Walz's trade mission to the United Kingdom and Finland, visiting major business centers in London and Helsinki, on November 13-19, 2021. Griensewic had the opportunity to participate and present as part of the environmental delegation. The mission aimed to increase state exports, promote Minnesota as a premier destination for foreign investment, develop new business opportunities, and strengthen existing ties.

The delegation consisted of 50 businesses and organizations within Minnesota’s medical technology, food and agriculture, environmental technology, and educational sectors. Also joining Governor Walz in representing the state was First Lady Gwen Walz, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove, and Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Commissioner Thom Petersen.
The environmental delegation in Helsinki, Finland (left). While in Finland, Griensewic gave a presentation on policy for energy and the environment (right).
Region Nine Becomes MBFFA Hub Partner
Minnesota State Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center Receives $942,796 Grant from U.S. SBA to Help Disadvantaged Small Businesses
University is 1 of 2 Minnesota recipients among 51 nationwide grantees

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Strategic Partnerships Center, housed in the Hubbard Building in Old Town Mankato, was recently awarded a $942,796 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to serve as a hub for a new American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers for small businesses seeking to access government resources.The hub’s name is “South Central Community Navigator: Mainstreet Businesses Focused on Food and Agriculture” (MBFFA), and the initiative’s period of performance begins Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The list of grant recipients for the U.S. SBA initiative – the Community Navigator Pilot Program – was announced in a recent U.S. SBA press release.

The Minnesota State Mankato Strategic Partnerships Center’s role as a hub will be to work with five partners (or “spokes”), which are listed below, to provide outreach, education and technical assistance to underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses in the food and agriculture sector.

Teri Wallace, Minnesota State Mankato’s interim associate vice president for research and dean of extended campus, will provide administrative oversight of the MBFFA hub.

“We are excited to receive this award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide support to small businesses facing challenges during these critical times,” said Wallace. “MBFFA will strengthen connections among trusted Community Navigators and support entrepreneurs to drive innovation for South Central Minnesota. While the university’s Strategic Partnerships Center will serve as the coordinating hub, our Minnesota State Mankato and community partners bring the expertise intended to stimulate, sustain and/or grow small businesses in the agriculture and food sector in South Central Minnesota. Each MBFFA member will work on specific areas of economic development, with entities collaborating to assist businesses in achieving lasting results.”

The MBFFA hub’s five partners and contacts include:
2022-2026 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
A Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies document (CEDS) contributes to effective economic development in communities and regions through locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning processes. A CEDS document is required by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) in order to maintain Economic Development District (EDD) status, and must be updated at least once every five years to qualify for EDA assistance.

Region Nine is the designated Economic Development District for the nine county area of South Central Minnesota and is responsible for preparing the CEDS update report. The CEDS report is posted in accordance to EDA's regulations found in the Federal Register at 13 C.F.R. part 303.

What does a CEDS report do?

  • Bring together the public and private sectors
  • Be an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies
  • Analyze the regional economy
  • Serve as a guide for establishing regional goals and objectives
  • Be a regional plan for implementation and action
  • Identify investment priorities and funding sources

The 2022-2026 CEDS report is currently under public review. The public review for the CEDS will end on December 30th. For questions or comments, contact Community Development Director Leah Petricka at
Region Nine Offers Stipends to Underserved Farmers Through USDA/NRCS Local Foods Grant
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: December 30, 2021; March 30, 2022; 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.
Region Nine and CSM Partner to Present at Clean Energy Council Monthly Forum
Climate Smart Municipalities: Germany & Minnesota
December 10; 9:00-10:00 a.m. via Zoom

Executive Director Nicole Griensewic will discuss Climate Smart Municipalities, a University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment program that pairs German and Minnesota cities that are dedicated to pursuing cleaner, more sustainable communities with a more efficient energy footprint. Griensewic will also discuss the recent Minnesota delegation’s visit to Germany and her knowledge gained during the visit.

As well as being the technical director for the City of Saerbeck, which plans to become climate-neutral by 2030, Guido Wallraven owns the city planning consultancy Stadt-Land-Fluss-Büro für Städtebau und Umweltplanung. The company focuses on energy-efficient city planning, sustainable city development, the use of solar energy in cities, and sustainable master planning.

All Southcentral Minnesota Clean Energy Council events are free and open to the public.
College Age Youth Commissioner Vacancy
Are you, or someone you know, a college age student in the region and interested in serving your community through local government? Region Nine Development Commission is inviting applications to serve as a public interest commissioner representing college youth. This is an excellent opportunity for college age students to participate in local governance, learn political and governmental processes firsthand, and gain skills that can be applied to future careers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

The College Age Public Interest Commissioner seat is a two-year appointment to represent college-aged youth on the Region Nine Development Commission. The Commission, a unit of government itself, consists of leaders from local governments across South Central Minnesota and commissioners who represent public interests such as college youth. It directs Region Nine staff members who work with and on behalf of local units of government to address economic, social, physical, and governmental concerns of a regional nature.

All Region Nine commissioners commit to attending quarterly meetings, which are typically held on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and participating in at least one committee. Those interested should submit an online application. These applications will be reviewed by the Region Nine Budget & Personnel Committee, which will make recommendations to the full Commission as they vote to appoint a commissioner.

Applications are due at 12:00 p.m. on December 29, 2021.

Questions? Contact Heather Bartelt, executive assistant, at or (507) 387-5643.
Sign up for Creando Ando 2.0!
Creando Ando was first done in Rochester, starting in 2019, with 10 Latina entrepreneurs where they were given 3 workshops that fostered personal confidence and an entrepreneurial mindset (all in Spanish), and they presented their business idea at 1Million cups, in Spanish. This project had great results and a positive impact on the community, so we are doing it again!

Creando Ando 2.0 will roughly follow the original and focus on Latino entrepreneurs within Region Nine’s 9-county region (except for Blue Earth). This project aims to identify entrepreneurship barriers, create entrepreneurial mindsets, give information to participants on running a business for beginners, and learn about technology programs. The workshops will be given solely in Spanish, there will be four workshops, 7 hours of one-on-one coaching after the workshops (optional for participants), and an incentive for participating in the workshops.
Cultural Centers as Places Where Hearts Can Meet
December 21, 2021; 2:30-4:00 p.m. via Zoom

Hosted by Camille Caster-Cyprian, moderated by Mandi Rosebrock & Bernadine Joselyn, with Kevin Lindsey, Mark Ritchie, Wayne Dupuis, & Rick Smith.

This TRUE Tuesday offering will explore historical, contemporary and imagined cultural interpretive centers in Minnesota as a resource for enhancing and preserving culture within and among groups. Mark Ritchie, President of Global Minnesota and Kevin Lindsey, CEO of the Minnesota Humanities, will reflect on the use of cultural centers by Minnesota’s 19th century immigrants as a strategy for cultural celebration and preservation, those institutions today, and some of the new kinds of cultural centers being created by Minnesota’s newest immigrants.

Wayne Dupuis, environmental program manager for the Fond du Lac Reservation & Rick Smith, Red Cliff Ojibwe and Elder in Residence at University of Minnesota Medical School-Duluth Campus, will share their ideas for an indigenous cultural center in the vicinity of Spirit Island. Bought back by the Fond du Lac Band ten years ago, Spirit Island was the sixth stopping place in the migration of the Anishinaabe people from the northeastern part of the continent.

Join other equity advocates in conversation about how cultural centers can help us both preserve ways of knowing and understanding, and learn about one another.
In the Media
Food, ag 'hub' gets $940K grant to help businesses - Read More

Minnesota State Mankato's Strategic Partnerships Center Receives $942,796 Grant from U.S. SBA to Help Disadvantages Small Businesses - Read More

Minnesota tries to make a strong impression in first post-pandemic trade visits to UK, Finland - Read More

Gov. Walz leads trade mission to the UK and Finland, Crookston farmers part of trip- Read More

Minnesota Delegation makes trade mission to Europe - Read More
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
McKnight Foundation: Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program

The Vibrant & Equitable Communities program fosters shared power, prosperity, and participation through four strategies:

  • Accelerate Economic Mobility
  • Build Community Wealth
  • Cultivate a Fair and Just Housing System
  • Strengthen Democratic Participation

Within these strategies, McKnight Foundation seek to achieve systemic improvements in individual, community, and societal outcomes.

Deadline: January 15
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, 2022
Calendar of Events
December 21: True Tuesdays
December 24: Office Closed
December 31: 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
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