April 2019
Region Nine Executive Director Selected as ACE Ambassador
Mankato, MN – Region Nine Development Commission’s (RNDC) Executive Director, Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, was selected to participate in the eleventh Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACE) as a newly selected ACE Ambassador.
ACE is designed to connect decision makers from the Americas and beyond to establish international and regional partnerships, increase trade and investment, and strengthen Hemispheric innovation and competitiveness by building on ideas and models that work to create jobs. More than 10,000 authorities/officials and experts have engaged in the program since its inception in 2014, including 400+ global selected participants that have joined the 10 ACE Editions. The program has resulted in more than 2,000 collaboration opportunities, strategic alliances, and new projects.

ACE is organized and supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration and Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of State, and the Organization of American States. The 11th ACE (ACE 11) will take place in Puerto Rico from May 18, 2019 to May 25, 2019. ACE 11 will showcase examples of effective innovation and entrepreneurship-related initiatives underway in Puerto Rico that are impacting its economic development and recovery with the goal of creating information sharing and collaboration building opportunities for all participants. The program will take participants to 10 cities of all sizes throughout the island, where they will interact with over 30 key innovation-driven businesses and institutions as well as share emerging technologies and best practices linked to the sharing economy, renewable energy, medical tourism, smart cities, and the internet of things. 

ACE Ambassadors are chosen based on their proven leadership and commitment to open doors in their community. ACE Ambassadors maintain and enhance best practices that promote competitiveness in the Americas, provide support in guiding communities on current and future ACE programs, represent the ACE program domestically and internationally, provide expertise to participants and alumni, and much more.

“I am excited to represent the region at ACE 11 in this new role as an ACE Ambassador as we continue to collaborate and explore new regional and global partnerships. ACE 10 was an opportunity to connect with the Puerto Rican Department of Economic Development and Commerce. Their senior leadership was interested in the work we were completing at the time on regional Medical Device Manufacturing (MDM), as Puerto Rico is a major hub for the global MDM industry with close ties to the firms operating in Minnesota. We shared our final plan, MedTech Connect, with the Secretary and Deputy Secretary this past fall, and we are eager to continue conversations regarding possible partnerships in hopes of strengthening the industry clusters here at home and in Puerto Rico. Despite the geographic distance, close connections already exist following the devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico as local firms took over some manufacturing contracts while the island rebuilt. It is our hope that RNDC can help strengthen these ties and possibly expand to related industries. It is therefore very fortunate that ACE 11 will take place in Puerto Rico this May. As regional leaders, it is important for RNDC to continue our work and open doors to new regional and global markets that can only further strengthen our communities,” shared Executive Director, Nicole Griensewic Mickelson.
Child Care: One of Region Nine's Top Legislative Priorities
As a top legislative priority, Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) advocates for legislation to improve child care access in the region and is supportive of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, whom Executive Director Griensewic Mickelson is president of, and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, whom RNDC closely partners with, and their work to improve training and education to child care providers.

Our View: Child Care: Legislature should approve outstate funding plan

There’s a growing shortage of child care providers in outstate Minnesota that threatens to cripple economic development in small towns and cities from Grenada to Grand Marais.

But two organizations have proposed a plan to the Legislature that will support providers and is aimed at starting to relieve the shortage of child care in greater Minnesota. The plans have bipartisan support and can be implemented with organizations already in place.

The Greater Minnesota Partnership and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation have asked the Legislature for $13 million to fund two programs that would help establish collaborative child care facilities and provide training and education to child care providers.

Outstate Minnesota has a greater need for child care providers than the metro area as 35,000 child care spots are needed in Greater Minnesota, according to a study by the Center for Rural Policy and Development.
New Prosperity Initiative Cohort Announced
Owatonna, Minn – April 2, 2019 Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), in partnership with Faribault Diversity Coalition and Region Nine Development Commission , is pleased to announce the 2019 Prosperity Initiative cohort.

The Prosperity Initiative is a program that promotes inclusive entrepreneurship and minority-owned business growth in southern Minnesota. The program provides regular education, coaching, and business resources to minority and new immigrant business owners in SMIF’s 20-county region. According to the US Census Bureau, 29% of Minnesota’s population will be people of color by 2040, an increase from only 4% in 1980. The Prosperity Initiative was designed to respond to this rapid growth and help remove barriers to success for entrepreneurs.
Region Nine Selected to Participate in the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative in Germany
Mankato, MN – Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) selected by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest to participate in the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative-Food Processing program supported by the German government.
Germany is the leading player for food processing excellence in the European Union and has a high concentration of food processors. The Transatlantic Cluster Initiative-Food Processing program connects German and American cluster organizations through targeted events in the United States and Germany. This program establishes best practices with focuses on cluster management, internationalization, skilled workforce recruitment, technological development, digitalization in food processing, resource efficiency, and opportunities for foreign direct investment (FDI) and internal collaboration that could further shape Minnesota’s food processing cluster.

The Food Processing program in Germany will be sending 15 select United States participants to Germany to visit key stakeholders in food processing from business and research associations as well as the opportunity to interact with leading industry associations and clusters. The program will take place from May 12, 2019 to May 17, 2019.
“It is an honor to be invited by the State of Minnesota to apply and to be selected by the German-American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest to participate in the Transatlantic Cluster Initiative program. Region Nine is a large and thriving food producing region which we are excited to promote to the German market. Promoting regional assets and championing the nine counties are at the core of RNDC’s mission, and we believe that opening doors to the foreign markets can only strengthen the local economy.

Region Nine represents strong clusters that encompass robust manufacturing, food production, and innovation throughout sectors that intersect a variety of technological innovation and commodity production. As highlighted in our recent work on the federal initiative, Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP) , these diverse yet interrelated clusters represent the highest percentage of jobs within Region Nine and also encompass the highest earnings by industry in eight of the nine counties.

Food production, agribusiness, and manufacturing are closely aligned in Germany’s industrial networks, similar to Region Nine, so beyond laying the groundwork for closer trades we also hope to exchange ideas that will benefit the nine-county region as well as our German counterparts,” shared Executive Director, Nicole Griensewic Mickelson. 

“RNDC’s invitation to participate in this exchange serves as recognition of the importance of regional government,” shared Chair of RNDC’s Commission, Steve Rohlfing. “Our nine counties are tied together as an important economic unity in South Central Minnesota, and RNDC’s board is quite pleased that the organization’s work is recognized by the State of Minnesota and their international partners.”
Report brings new focus to child care center concerns
Angela Caven takes extra steps to ensure her home-based child care center in Rapidan is safe for the kids she watches.

While plenty of paperwork and requirements are involved, including safety checklists, inspections and other licensing forms, she doesn't think they are unnecessary or overwhelming.

"I pay attention to safety and I run a pretty tight ship with my kiddos to keep them safe. I know not all places do that. So as long as it's sensible legislation, I think it's fine."

A new report from the Center for Rural Policy & Development found many family operators and larger child care centers believe too much unnecessary regulation has been added.

And more center providers are voicing concern about the financial sustainability of their business and about their ability to hire and keep staff as certification requirements rise.
Mark Your Calendars!
Re-targeting on Facebook
Friday, May 10th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

MSU-M College of Business,
Center for Innovation
& Entrepreneurship
424 N Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN
Join Brandon Poliszuk, founder of Social Butterfly, as we touch on advanced re-targeting on Facebook! Re-targeting is a powerful way to turn your site visitors into converted users which can directly impact your business goals.

Social Butterfly started from a class project and evolved into an award winning creative agency helping businesses simplify their marketing needs. Specializing in Facebook & Instagram advertising, brand strategy, video production and content creation.

This event is FREE and open to the public. 
Your Most Trusted Marketing- Your Customer
Friday, May 31st
7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

Best Western Plus
2101 S Broadway St, New Ulm, MN
Learn how the world of online reviews, ratings and user generated content has changed marketing. Where your brand voice and marketing was once all in your control, now it’s divided amongst your customers and in full public display. Aaron will cover online reputation strategies and tactics so that you know how Google is presenting your business based on reviews, allowing you to build a cycle of happy customers landing your next happy customers.

Aaron Weiche is the CEO for GatherUp (formerly GetFiveStars), a customer feedback platform that empowers businesses and brands to gather customer feedback, testimonials and online reviews.
As a 20 year veteran of the digital marketing industry, he was the COO of SpyderTrap, a Minneapolis digital agency creating websites, mobile sites, apps and online marketing strategies. Aaron also helped found MnSearch, launched a SaaS podcast, and speaks nationally on search marketing, web design, mobile and reputation management.

This event is FREE and open to the public. 
In the Media
A Local Brand: First-term lawmaker steps up for area- Read the Free Press Article

MnDOT Awards 2.3 Million Dollars in Grant Money to Schools- View the KEYC Video

Public meeting to focus on transportation improvement- Read the Free Press Article

St. Peter American Legion Decides to Sell Whisky River- View the KEYC Video

American Legion Post 37 members decide to sell former Whiskey River- Read the St. Peter Herald Article

St. Peter American Legion votes to sell Whiskey River- Read the Free Press Article

Names and notables April 21, 2019- Read the Free Press Article
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Minnesota Job Skills Partnership

The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) Board is soliciting applications for grant funding for new and incumbent worker training programs. MJSP will accept applications for the Partnership and Pathways Programs. Short Form applications are available for grants of up to $50,000. In addition, applications for Pre-Development grants for the Partnership Program will be considered.

Deadline: May 6, 2019
Minnesota State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program

The Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), an agency within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, is soliciting applications for funding for eligible small and medium-sized businesses to participate in export development activities that will assist the company to begin exporting or increase their exports from Minnesota.

Deadline: Proposals accepted until all funds are committed
Calendar of Events