August 2017
A highlight of the year for me and my Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) colleagues and Board members is SMIF’s Annual Bus Tour. For the third year, we picked a grouping of our 20 counties to visit. We spent the day visiting clients and others who are making a difference in their community. We use this time to hear from stakeholders and listen to community leaders.

This year, we traveled to the northern part of our region, starting in Northfield (Rice County), and traveling to Le Sueur, Sibley and Nicollet Counties. 

Across all these counties, we heard concerns about the lack of child care, the need for more workforce housing, infrastructure improvements and climate resiliency planning, access to health care, workforce shortage and welcoming new faces into leadership. Despite these large-scale challenges, I was impressed to meet so many people who are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to do what they can. 

We saw how an aeroponics farm in Faribault is innovating in how and where we grow our food, how Henderson is getting creative to draw in outsiders, how Imminent Brewing in Northfield is spurring new main street activity and much more.

For me, this bus tour highlights that while our 20-county region faces similar economic challenges – child care, housing, workforce, embracing diversity, infrastructure – there is a vibrant range of activity prevailing. It’s a long day, but energizing nonetheless.
New Small Town Grants Program
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) launched its new Small Town Grants Program. Towns with populations of 5,000 or less in its 20 county region are eligible to apply. Ten grants of up to $10,000 each will be awarded. Small Town Grant applications are due August 31. Grant awards will be officially announced at SMIF’s Annual Luncheon on October 17, 2017.

Learn more and apply!
AmeriCorps LEAP receives on-going funding and is recruiting!
SMIF's AmeriCorps LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) Initiative received continued funding of $348,303 in the nationally competitive 3-year grant round to host 20 FTE AmeriCorps positions. LEAP members focus on school readiness in preschool settings in SMIF’s 20-county region. SMIF is actively recruiting for 2017-2018 AmeriCorps LEAP members. The term runs from August 15, 2017-July 15, 2018. Members receive a living allowance, health care and a $5,775 Educational Award, along with monthly trainings.
Visit to apply.
Welcome new Board members!
SMIF is happy to welcome two new members to our Board of Trustees. Carisa Buegler (left) of New Ulm is the Director of Operations at New Ulm Medical Center. Cassie Harrington of Plainview is President of Foresight Bank. Welcome!

Fourth Quarter Loans  l  See Our Business Resources
42 N Main Common Grounds, LLC, Winona  l  Upscale coffeehouse

Bluff Country Co-op, Winona l  Co-op grocery store

CranioVation,* Rochester  l  Medical device to treat brain tumors

Dakota Mart, LLC, Good Thunder l  Gas station & convenience store

Gamer's Haven, LLC, Mankato l  Gaming lounge

Jessica's Daycare, Austin l  Family child care business

JR's Barn, LLC, Waldorf  l  Event center

Living Greens Farm, Inc., Faribault  l  Aeroponic farm

Micronutrient Technologies,* Mankato  l  Micronutrient drinking water products

Perfection Packaging, Inc., Mankato  l  Food packaging company

West Oakland Auto Repair, Austin l  Auto shop

*Seed Fund Investment

Third Quarter Grants
30th Community Collaboration Grants: $50,000 to 5 community foundation-sponsored projects
BookStart: $168,304 in books to 29 Early Childhood programs
Early Childhood Initiative: $27,500 to Kenyon-Wanamingo 
Paint The Town: $1,000 to two projects
Incentive Grants: $78,540 to six programs
Upcoming Events

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

Owatonna, Oct. 28 (Early Childhood Care Conference fees apply)

Hear what's new at SMIF and network with other regional leaders. $30/ticket

Tuesday, October 17
Holiday Inn, Owatonna
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation  |  507-455-3215  |