August 2018
Local Food Entrepreneurs Wanted
Applications are now being accepted for the Feast! Smart Start Program. The program is free to participants and will provide support for five individual farm and food entrepreneurs through a defined, structured technical assistance and coaching process. Participants will leave the one-year program with tangible skills and a driven plan to continue growth with their business.
A kick-off event was held on August 19 to launch the program. President and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Tim Penny, spoke about the impact Feast! Smart Start has in the region. Paula Trenda, owner of Curly Girlz Candy, shared her success story as part of participating in the program.
College Youth Public Interest Commissioner
Are you, or someone you know, active within 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 age youth. This is an excellent opportunity for college 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.
Madelia Economic Resiliency Plan for Public Review
The draft of the Madelia Economic Resiliency Plan is ready for public review. The process started in January 2017 with an online community survey, a series of community engagement events and city council meetings. The draft document represents the culmination of all the public input and community effort.

Citizens are encouraged to review the document available by clicking the cover image on the right. The draft document can be downloaded and comments may be submitted directly to City Hall through September 24, 2018. A hard copy of the draft can be made available upon request.
After public review, the draft will undergo a public hearing process and be considered by the Madelia City Council for adoption on September 24, 2018.

Questions and comments on the Madelia Economic Resiliency Plan can be directed to Madelia City Administrator, Jane Piepgras by phone at (507) 642-3245 or e-mail at .
New Prague Featured in New York Times
Kendra and Paul Rasmusson of Farmhouse Market in New Prague, MN
Credit: Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times
"In New Prague, Minn., population around 7,600, Kendra and Paul Rasmusson have been inundated with inquiries from people equally enamored with their grocery concept: a store that is largely unstaffed.

The couple’s young daughter has epilepsy, and they discovered early on that a healthy diet could help her feel better. They couldn’t find enough local, organic items at the big-box store close to town, and the nearest co-op was 20 miles away. So, almost three years ago, they opened Farmhouse Market .

Ms. Rasmusson, 34, works part time as a marketing consultant and is the primary caretaker for their three young children. Her husband, 40, commutes 90 miles round trip for a banking job in Minneapolis. They calculated what it would take to open their own store, and realized the numbers wouldn’t work if they were to run it in a traditional way. There just weren’t enough customers...."
Regional Vitality Investment Act
Region Nine assisted the Office of Congressman Tim Walz in drafting language and advocating for the Small Town and Regional Vitality Investment Act . This legislation would invest in the needs and longevity of communities under 30,000 in population and empower local leaders to strategically frame federal investment into regional priorities utilizing the existing Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy framework. Region Nine updates the strategy annually for the nine-county service area.
“Rural communities across Minnesota can tackle the challenges they face if we work together to create investment in the things that matter most. Organizations like mine help communities plan for their future and this legislation will tie that planning to strategic investment that will improve small towns across the state,” said Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director of Region Nine.

Press Release:
News Story:
Know someone ready to expand their business?
Region Nine has Revolving Loan Funds available to assist existing businesses, as well as new entrepreneurs, in securing financing they are otherwise unable to secure through traditional channels.
Any for-profit business in Region Nine's service area is eligible. Funds can be used for:
  • Working capital
  • Real estate
  • Machinery and equipment costs
  • Inventory
  • Building and/or leasehold improvements
  • Retail, service and manufacturing costs
Region Nine welcomes partnering with other lenders to assist local businesses to succeed and thrive.
Click to see previous loan types and location.
Waseca looks to Federal EDA Grants for Assistance
"With the loss of a major employer in town, the city of Waseca is now looking to apply for assistance from the federal Economic Development Authority.

Mayor Roy Srp and city staff have been in talks with state and federal officials since Quad/Graphics closed the doors of its Waseca plant last year. Due to the loss of jobs resulting from the plant's closure, the city is eligible for federal grant funding to help it move forward.

'In conversations we've had with Region Nine Development Commission and internally about ways to help rebuild the economy of the city, we have a couple of opportunities here,' said Waseca's interim City Manager Duane Hebert."
The Social Side of Your Brand
September 28, 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.

Best Western Plus, New Ulm
You have an awesome company – a unique brand – and you need to get your message to your audience so they can join your dedicated followers. In a time when a new trend in social media seems to emerge every day, it can easily become overwhelming for any brand to choose the right channels for them, and to establish their true brand voice.

Join the discussion with 507 Creative Group at Social Media Breakfast - New Ulm as we dissect the art of crafting an irresistible brand, and the importance of authentically translating that to the right social platforms to reach your target audience. The 507 Creative Group will also cover the “social” part of every platform – these aren’t one-way-streets, you need to interact and build relationships! The metrics of social media will be covered and why you need to tie performance to your business goals.
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Rural Initiative Program

The Laura Jane Musser Fund wants to encourage collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions in a number of civic areas including, but not limited to, economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education. The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer.
Projects will be eligible for either planning or implementation funds during any one grant period.

Deadline: October 3, 2018
Climate Gap Program

A hands-on leadership program for young people interested in exploring the world, and immersing themselves in climate impacts and solutions.

FOCUS is selecting 30 of the brightest, most passionate young students from urban and rural America, to take a FOCUS Climate Gap Year in Spring 2019 in India and Fall 2019 in China and South America. 

Deadline: August 31, 2018
Calendar of Events
September 3: Office Closed - Labor Day
September 11: O ffice Closed - Staff & Leadership Development
September 12: Office Closed - Staff & Leadership Development
September 12: Board of Directors Meeting