August 2019
Nicole Griensewic Mickelson receives
‘Friend of the CGMC’ award
Region Nine Development Commission Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson received the “Friend of the CGMC” Award from the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) July 25 during the Coalition’s three-day summer conference in Bemidji. The Friend of the CGMC Award recognizes individuals and organizations that have helped advance the interests of Greater Minnesota.

In addition to her role in helping to foster business and job growth in southern Minnesota through Region Nine, for the past two years Griensewic Mickelson has served as president of the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP), the CGMC’s economic development-focused sister organization. She has proven to be a strong and effective leader on many issues that impact Greater Minnesota, including broadband expansion, workforce development and seeking out solutions to the child care crisis.

During the 2019 legislative session, she visited the State Capitol on numerous occasions to meet with legislators and testify at committee hearings on several issues, most notably in support of legislation aimed at obtaining state funding to help provide business training and assistance to child care providers in Greater Minnesota. Her efforts helped secure $1.5 million for child care initiatives this session.

“Nicole is a dedicated and savvy champion for Greater Minnesota economic development,” said Ron Johnson, a member of the Bemidji City Council and president of the CGMC. “She knows the ins and outs of the Legislature and works tremendously hard to garner support for initiatives that aim to bring job growth and economic opportunities to rural communities.”

CGMC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 97 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota.
Becky Asleson
Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities in Minnesota
Join University of Minnesota Extension in Waseca, Minnesota September 5-6, 2019 for their inaugural conference, Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities .

Strengthen and broaden your regional networks as you connect with fellow:

-Economic Development Professionals
-Local and Regional Decision-Makers
-Community Champions
-Business Leaders
-Small Business consultants
-Entrepreneurial enthusiasts

Learn best practices that make your community a place where entrepreneurs can succeed. Share ideas and find tools and resources that your communities can use to support entrepreneurship in Minnesota. You'll be inspired by keynote speakers Amanda Brinkman, Host of Deluxe's hit HULU series Small Business Revolution - Main Street, and Tom Smude, co-owner of Smude Enterprises, LLC.

For more information, contact Rani Bhattacharyya at or (218) 281-8689.
Feast! Smart Start
Strong food economies are dependent upon successful entrepreneurs. Therefore, RNDC partnered with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and their Feast! Smart Start Initiative to assist local food entrepreneur start-ups and expand small scale farms, production and processing facilities, restaurants, and food markets. This opportunity was aimed to build resources for creating sustainable and resilient food economy for South Central Minnesota.

Entrepreneurs participated in the seven-month program that included peer networking and targeted workshops based on their specific needs. As a result, participants have been able to build a network of relationships that will support and assist them in their endeavors. Two of the businesses have formed a partnership with a local restaurant which buys products to use within their restaurant as well as for farm-to-table events.

In addition to building relationships, participants were also able to expand their operations. One participant was able to move into a larger storefront and increased sales. Another was able to move into production and sales. Overall, 75 percent of participants increased sales and reached new markets during this program.

All of this can continue through the South Central Minnesota's Growers Network which offers collaboration, education, and relationship building. One opportunity will be the partnership with Minnesota State University, Mankato's and the South Central Minnesota Growers Network to continue to meet and access educational programming for their new Agribusiness Program.
Knowing Census Data Benefit Communities May Increase 2020 Response
Survey Finds Only 45 Percent Know That Census Data Guide
Community Funding Decisions
By: Gina Walejko and Monica Vines

Knowing that the census guides how much money a community gets from the government is the most important reason for people to respond to the census, according to results from a 2018 Census Bureau survey.

Thirty percent of respondents specifically said the most significant reason to reply to the census is the knowledge that census data are used to guide public funding decisions. Another 17% said it’s that it benefits their community’s future, while 15% said the most important reason is that it provides information for local governments.

The focus groups suggest that encouraging response from trusted voices in the community may increase participation among people with the greatest distrust in government.

Additionally, the survey found only 45% of respondents knew the census of population and housing ─ conducted every 10 years in the United States ─ was used to help determine public funding. Yet, 62% said benefits to their communities are the most important reason for filling out the census questionnaire.

This mismatch between not knowing that the results of the census are used by communities to make funding and planning decisions, while, at the same time, finding it to be a compelling motivator was just one insight from the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) .
Save the Date

Region Nine Development Commission, in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension for Community Vitality and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and support from the Bush Foundation, Mankato Area Foundation, Saint Peter Public Schools, and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, will hold the first ever Southern Minnesota Equity Summit on November 1, 2019 in Saint Peter, Minnesota.

The Southern Minnesota Equity Summit will convene regional leaders as a catalyst for learning, networking, and innovation to promote welcoming and equitable communities.
Featuring Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan as keynote speaker!
Breakout sessions will cover strategies and tools for use in the sectors of:

  • Nonprofits and businesses
  • Governments
  • Community organizations
  • Education

Registration opening soon! For more information on this event, please contact Peter Bode at or 389.8864.
Region Nine at the State Fair
The Minnesota Department of Commerce State Energy Office has developed the Clean Energy Community Education Grant Program to promote clean energy education efforts, to be featured at the State Fair. On September 2nd, Region Nine will showcase two communities, School Sisters of Notre Dame located in Mankato, Minnesota and Hometown Bioenergy from Minnesota Municipal Power Agency located in Le Sueur, Minnesota as part of the program located in the Eco Experience building.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame is a 100 percent clean energy nursing home and residence. The Catholic Religious order owns one solar array and has purchased shares in two other cooperative projects. Taken together, the solar panels power a nursing home and mother house, over a total of 660,000 square feet of building space across 146 acres. Additionally, they generate revenue by selling some electricity back to supplier Xcel Energy. The School Sisters of Notre Dame are carbon negative on electricity and have not paid a bill in more than a decade.

Hometown Bioenergy from Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, just north of the City of Le Sueur, is the nation's largest anaerobic digester, which uses bacterial decomposition to convert agricultural byproducts (i.e., corn silage, chicken droppings) into methane. The clean-burning natural gas is then used to generate electricity. The plant pumps out enough energy to power more than 5,000 homes.

This program is intended to support participation in an educational initiative that showcases the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy, addresses climate change issues, and empowers, inspires, and motivates a new generation of energy leaders of all ages and backgrounds in communities in Minnesota.
School Sisters of Notre Dame
Hometown Bioenergy
Region Nine Accepting Applications for
College Age Commissioner
Are you, or someone you know, a college student in the region and interested in serving your community through local government? Region Nine is inviting applications to serve as a public interest commissioner representing college 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.

The College Age Public Interest Commissioner seat is a two-year appointment to represent college-aged youth on the Region Nine's Commission. The Commission, a unit of government itself, is comprised of leaders from local governments across South Central Minnesota and commissioners who represent public interests. It directs Region Nine staff who work with and on behalf of local units of government to address economic, social, physical, and governmental concerns of a regional nature.

All Region Nine commissioners commit to attending quarterly meetings, which are typically held on the second Wednesday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and participating in at least one committee. Those interested should submit an online application. These applications will be reviewed by the Region Nine Budget & Personnel Committee, which will make recommendations to the full Commission as they vote to appoint a commissioner.

Applications are due at 12:00 p.m. on September 16, 2019.

Questions? Contact Peter Bode, executive assistant, at or 507-389-8864.
Instagram: You're doing it wrong
Friday, September 13th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

MSU-M College of Business,
Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN
Jordan Powers is a commercial photographer and videographer specializing in real estate, interiors, and architecture. In 2017, Jordan hosted a podcast focused on Instagram where he interviewed over 125 influencers and learned the ins and outs of Instagram growth. While a lot of things have changed with the platform, the fundamentals are all very much the same. 
In this talk, Jordan will be discussing Instagram strategies and tools that will help you do business on Instagram.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Light breakfast provided.
Marketing to the Millennial
Friday, September 27th
7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

Best Western Plus
2101 S. Broadway St., New Ulm, MN
Millennials (born between the years 1981 and 1996) make up 25 percent of the population. That means this generation is responsible for 25 percent of the buying power!

As a millennial, Samantha Felt strives to better educate businesses and organizations on the minds and buying habits of the millennial generation. During this month's Social Media Breakfast - New Ulm, Samantha will touch on the trends within the millennial generation, what attracts them online, where they are finding their information, tactics to specifically target them on social media, and how to adjust your marketing plans to reach this generation!

This event is FREE and open to the public. Light breakfast provided.
In the Media
Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities honors area leaders- Read the Free Press article

Region 9, Sleepy Eye awarded grant initiative- View the KEYC video

Nicole Griensewic Mickelson recieves 'Friend of the CGMC' award- Read the St. Peter Herald article
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Small Town Grants Program

Small communities are the fabric of the region, yet sometimes lack the financial resources they need in order to address unique challenges they may be facing. This is why several years ago the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation created the Small Town Grant Program for communities that have populations of 5,000 or less.

Several communities, like Kiester, used the grant to engage the community in a visioning process to develop plans for the future. Other towns, like St. James, use the grant to work towards inclusivity and a celebration of diversity in the town, through organizing different cultural events and programming.

Deadline: August 30, 2019
Economic Impact Grants

Economic Impact Grant Program, developed by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, enables new ideas and initiatives to foster and spark new businesses and increase economies to grow more prosperity.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is seeking applications which create problem-solving initiatives to begin, increase, or elevate entrepreneurial processes to grow economic opportunities. This may include, but is not limited to, initiatives in the areas of art, tourism, food accessibility, and business services.

Deadline: October 4, 2019
Calendar of Events
About Region Nine
Region Nine Development Commission takes great pride in working with and on behalf of counties, cities, townships, and schools throughout South Central Minnesota. Since 1972, being a partner for progress has led to the development of programs and identification of solutions in the areas of economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more about our work and mission, visit
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