In December, Viet "Henry" Long stopped into Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation's (SMIF) office. He was confused about a couple checks he had received from SMIF. They only totaled $2,500, but both were indeed for Henry, who co-owns Magic Ten Nails in Owatonna. When the 2016 floods came in September, Magic Ten Nails, located right across from the Straight River in Owatonna, was again underwater.

"It was going to take two to three months for the insurance money to come through," said Long. "We couldn't wait that long to get back in business - as a small business, we needed to keep working to keep making money. I had taken out a loan for initial repairs, and was grateful to receive SMIF's funds so quickly to help buy new furniture and equipment."

Viet "Henry" Long of Magic Ten Nails, who received a Disaster Recovery Grant after the 2016 floods

The grant to Long and 16 other business owners was a small but fast response to the 2016 floods in our region. SMIF's Business Disaster Recovery Grants are based on studies showing that early money is crucial to help businesses decide to re-open. As ever, AgStar was the first partner to contribute. The creation of this disaster recovery response model was one of my first tasks when I started at SMIF in 2007, right after the Rushford floods, and it's since been replicated in many communities around the state.

2016 was a difficult year for main street businesses in Madelia, where there was a fire in February, and for businesses affected by the September rains. Here's to hoping that 2017 is a prosperous year for these small business owners and for the region as a whole.

Tim Penny signature

Tim Penny
President & CEO, SMIF
Imagine: How could 160 acres of farmland help your community?

$7 billion in wealth is set to transfer in SMIF's 20-county region by 2030, much of this in the form of land. It's estimated that the current value of farmland in south central and southeastern Minnesota is $50 billion.

SMIF's Preserving Our Heritage farmland retention program provides a win-win solution to help local communities retain the wealth generated by this land and allow landowners to ensure it stays locally-owned and tillable.

Read more on our blog or 
New Resources for Diverse Populations

Southern Minnesota's population and economy are rapidly diversifying. In 2000, 6.7 percent of our region's residents were people of color, and in 2015 this was up to 12.3 percent. One in three children in our region is a child of color. More than 36,000 of our residents are foreign-born. Many of these residents are driving the region's entrepreneurial spirit forward in sectors like social services, local foods, manufacturing and healthcare.

SMIF has several new offerings to help minority and under-represented demographics including people of color, women, veterans, persons with disabilities and/or low-income populations:  
Open RFPs

Incentive Grants
DEADLINE: February 28, 2017

BookStart Grants
DEADLINE: April 7, 2017

Paint the Town Grants
Grant Guidelines l Application
DEADLINE: April 18, 2017

Grow a Farmer Fund accepting applications
Second Quarter Loans and Equity Investments 

Imminent Brewing, Northfield  l  Taproom brewery
JIT Companies, Green Isle  l  Waterjet cutting & lamenated glass
Jensen Corporation, New Richland  l  Construction & home services
Timerlake Orchard, Fairmont  l  Apple orchard

Second Quarter Grants

PreK to Grade 3 : $17,600 to 18 districts to attend trainings
Disaster Recovery Fund: $20,000 to 17 businesses for flood recovery aid
30th Community Collaboration Grants: $94,000 to 10 Early Childhood Initiative coalitions to start or expand new projects and programming
Where we'll be - and hope to see you!

Startup Saturdays
February 21 & March 21
Marketing & Communications Training ( St. Peter 2/21, Albert Lea 3/21)
February 27 & March 31
Early Childhood Dental Network (Fairmont 2/27, Mankato 3/31)
March 13
March 14
March 16-18
March 22
March 26
Feast! Smart Start Initiative Conference, Owatonna


Your generosity supports economic, early childhood, and community development work in southern Minnesota. 
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation | 525 Florence Ave., Owatonna, MN |
 507-455-3215 | i nquiry@smifoundation.o rg  | www. s