April 2017
Spring is here! Just like our region's farmers, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) has been working hard through the winter to give us a strong start this spring.
The Foundation knows that the local food economy is going to continue to be a big economic driver for our region. Consumers want to know not only where their food comes from, but who is producing it. We're seeing more farmers markets and more schools sourcing from local farms. Our proximity to the Twin Cities positions us well to source things like organic produce, microbrews and free-range eggs to metro restaurants and food co-ops. At the third annual Feast! Local Food Marketplace festival and tradeshow in Rochester, public attendance grew by 30 percent this year to nearly 1,600.

In order for local foods (and brews) to scale sustainably, there needs to be a connective tissue supporting everyone involved, including farmers, producers, growers, buyers, consumers, resource providers and funders. This is largely the role of the FEAST Local Food Network, which SMIF and several partners created in 2013. 

As the network grows, new resources are becoming available. Most recently, we launched a Grow a Farmer Fund, a revolving loan fund for small-scale, sustainable farmers. To help farmers and food entrepreneurs implement small business best practices, from accounting to marketing, the Network just launched the Feast! Smart Start Initiative, which will provide a training conference and one-on-one business coaching. The seeds are taking root!
Child Care Crisis
At SMIF, we have been getting a number of calls from people across the region related to child care. Employers can't find or keep workers if there is not access to affordable, quality child care. Providers themselves work long hours for not enough pay, yet hard-working families struggle with the expense. As with many economic development issues, those already on the lower end of the earning spectrum come out even further behind. 

REV - Rural Entrepreneurial Venture - is here!
The REV model is based on  The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship's tried and tested Energizing Entrepreneurial Communities (e2) framework. Starting May 15, SMIF invites communities of 5,000 or less in our 20-county region to apply for a transformative asset-based community development program focused on entrepreneur development.

Visit www.smifoundation.or/rev to learn more and sign up for the informational webinar on May 25.
Angie's Artisanal Treats: From loan client to donor
Angie and Dan Bastian are the co-founders of Mankato-based Angie's Artisan Treats. What started as a part-time business selling kettle corn at Vikings' camp and local fairs has grown into a multi-million dollar company that employs over 200 people and distributes nationally. We spoke with Angie and Dan for our 30 Voices for 30 Years project. After their loan paid off and their business took off, they became a SMIF donor. Former loan clients are some of our strongest supporters; 40 percent of clients reinvest back in SMIF after they pay off their loan. We asked Angie and Dan "why?"

Read their answer. 
Third Quarter Loans  l  See Our Business Resources
Chabelita's Yummy Foods & Fruits, Le Sueur  l  Mexican restaurant
Clean Plus, Inc., West Concord  l  Manufactures medical gloves 
Collage Saint James  l  Clothing, home decor, gifts & more
Elite Knowledge Solutions, Rochester l  Technology system design & consulting
Envirolastech, Inc., Rochester  l  Building materials company 
Fairmont Butcher Block  l  Butcher shop
Full Spectrum Float, Mankato  l  Spa specializing in float tanks
Half Pint Brewing Company, Waseca  l  Brewery and taproom
J-C Press, Owatonna  l  Printing press and marketing
Just Kneaded Massage, Mankato  l  Massage therapy
Medieval Metalwerx, Mankato  l  Manufactures circle track race components & chassis
Parkway Market & Coffeehouse, Lanesboro  l  Food market & cafe
Trimont Greenhouse & Floral  l  Greenhouse and garden products
Third Quarter Grants
30th Community Collaboration Grants: $113,000 to 12 community foundation-sponsored projects
Community Growth Initiative: $25,000 to MSU-Mankato’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Home Visiting Grants: $50,000 for six programs
Opportunity Grants: $37,000 to three projects
Upcoming Events
Quality Child Care Program Trainings

FREE 2-Hour DEVELOP-approved trainings to put your child care business on the path to quality. RSVP today!

 Small Business Saturdays

FREE opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation  |  507-455-3215  | www.smifoundation.org