December 2019
Region Nine Receives Community Innovation Grant
Region Nine was awarded one of 20 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grants in 2019. This grant will aid Region Nine's Welcoming Communities Project to support five rural communities in South Central Minnesota in developing a model of pairing economic development with inclusion.

The Bush Foundation created the Community Innovation Grant Program in 2013 to fund problem-solving projects that make the region better for everyone.
Region Nine Welcomes New Executive Assistant
Heather Bartelt joins Region Nine as an executive assistant. Over the course of her 12-year career and several years’ experience supporting a successful sales team, she has developed a passion for working with individuals from various backgrounds. Heather completed her Bachelor of Science in Sociology at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Food and Beverage Manufacturing Assessment
Region Nine, in partnership with FoodOps LLC., is studying what industry changes could result in expansion for mid-sized companies. Sharing your knowledge through a survey will support efforts to rejuvenate local businesses.

With funding from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), a study of the manufacturing environment will support actionable steps to improve the ecosystem for businesses to expand within the state.This survey can be taken by clicking the link below and will remain open until January 5, 2020.

Have questions about the survey? Contact Shawn Schloesser by email or at 507.389.8886.
CEDS Annual Performance Report
Region Nine’s 2019 Annual Performance Report (APR) serves as an update on the region's progress outlined in the 2016-2021 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS and annual performance report is posted in accordance to EDA's regulations found in the Federal Register at 13 C.F.R. part 303.

What is in the APR:

  • Regional Overview
  • Community Vitality Indicators
  • County Profiles
  • Analysis of CEDS APR Session Feedback
  • Opportunity Zones
This year's APR public review period will remain open until December 18, 2019. For questions or comments please contact Kristian Braekkan by email or at 507.389.8862.
Safe Routes to School
Region Nine continues to lead the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program for seven Mankato public schools (Franklin, Jefferson, Kennedy, Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Washington Elementary Schools and Prairie Winds Middle School). SRTS helps kids walk and bicycle to school more often through infrastructure improvements, education, and promotional activities. It is a comprehensive strategy to instill life-long habits that support physical activity and health.
SRTS team members from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Mankato Public Schools District 77, and the City of Mankato crafted the following vision statement to guide their work: The Mankato community will create a safe, equitable walking and biking environment by utilizing a holistic approach that breaks down barriers, provides transportation options, and fosters healthy habits.
Since the October 14th kickoff meeting, the SRTS team has collected student travel data from parents and teachers via online surveys and tally sheets. On December 9th, team members visited Rosa Parks Elementary and Prairie Winds Middle School to conduct School Zone Hazard Observational Assessments by observing before and after school traffic flow and identifying critical issues that decrease safety in the immediate area around the schools (e.g. distractions, illegal parking/pick up, unsafe crossing or helmet usage).
What's Next?
  • Draft Strategies and Action Steps
  • January 2020: Meeting 3, Action Plan
  • Development of Draft Plan
Growing a Mushroom Farmer: One man's healing new career
Feature Image: Efraim Cadriel, EJ Mushrooms, FEAST! Smart Start participant

Efraim Cadriel joined the military in 1995 and served for nearly 19 years as a combat medic and x-ray technologist. When he returned from Afghanistan, he worked in the Mayo Clinic Health System as a nuclear medicine technologist. At first, he didn’t realize he was experiencing PTSD and depression, but eventually discovered his trauma was triggered by working at the hospital, and in 2016 retired from the medical field.

A few years ago, Efraim and his wife, Jessica, moved to 2.8 acres in Kasota, Minnesota along with their four children. They enjoyed foraging for wild mushrooms throughout the area and were disappointed that their new property didn’t have any morels, a highly sought-after mushroom that only grows in the spring. Efraim started to research the possibility of growing morels on their property, and quickly became absorbed in learning about the mushroom-growing process. Jessica took notice. “Jessica made the comment that she hadn’t seen me so engaged in a while and told me that if I were to get into growing mushrooms she would support me 100 percent,” he said.

The couple co-founded EJ Mushrooms – E for Efraim and J for Jessica – in 2018.
Boomers vs. Millennials
Upgrade your marketing strategy by understanding generational differences. Each generation has its own set of experiences and values. A savvy marketer will develop different strategies for reaching and engaging different generational demographics. Key takeaways from this advanced-level session include a solid understanding of the cultural differences between Boomers, Gen X, Xennials, Millennials, and Gen Z. Learn how you can reach your target audiences by engaging them through their unique values and experiences.

About the Speaker:

Hannah Bretz is a marketing and business consultant, speaker and trainer inspired by creative innovation and entrepreneurial enterprises. Passionate about helping small businesses achieve their startup and growth milestones, Hannah coaches entrepreneurs on using the latest digital marketing strategies. Hannah provides services ranging from building a website to developing an integrated marketing strategy. She partners with clients to guide them to success through speaking and training courses and one-on-one consulting.
Friday, January 10th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

MSU-M College of Business,
Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN
This event is FREE and open to the public. Light breakfast provided.
A Beginner's Guide to Conversational Marketing
Friday, January 31st
7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

Best Western Plus,
2101 S. Broadway Street, New Ulm, MN
This event is FREE and open to the public. Light breakfast provided.
Conversational Marketing is the new way to help businesses buy from other businesses. The customer has the power now and businesses must adapt to stay ahead. This talk will cover:

  • 3 cultural shifts that have happened in the last few years in sales and marketing
  • How having conversations with your customers results in less friction in the sales process
  • How you can have more conversations to create the “best” buying experience possible
  • Trends that will have an effect on sales and marketing moving forward including video and email trends

About the Speaker:

Kelvin Sims is an account manager for the Small-Medium Business Unit at Drift. He has previously served as a Conversational Marketing Advisor and has been helping businesses have more conversations with their customers during his time at Drift.
In the Media
Region 9 Recently Honored by A National Organization

2019 Impact Award
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Airport Infrastructure Renewal (AIR) Program

The Airport Infrastructure Renewal (AIR) grant program is created to provide grants to counties, airport authorities, or cities to keep or enhance jobs in the area, increase the tax base, or expand or create new economic development.

Eligible Applicants for the AIR program are counties located outside of the metropolitan area, airport authorities, or cities located outside of the metropolitan area. An eligible project is expected to use the grant funds for the capital costs of redevelopment of an existing facility or construction of a new facility; and for public and private infrastructure costs, including broadband infrastructure costs, necessary for an eligible airport infrastructure renewal economic development project.

Deadline: January 21, 2020
Blandin Broadband Communities Program

Blandin Foundation is currently seeking four rural Minnesota communities to participate in a 2020-2021 cohort of the Blandin Broadband Communities (BBC) program – an intensive, two-year partnership between rural Minnesota communities (cities, counties, tribes, or other self-identified communities of interest or place) and the foundation. Selected communities work through a proven process to define their technology goals, measure current levels of broadband access and use, and seek technical assistance and resources to meet their goals.

Each BBC has the opportunity apply to Blandin Foundation for matching grants (around $75,000) for locally developed projects that advance community identified technology goals over the two-year project period.

Deadline: January, 24, 2020
Calendar of Events
December 24: Office Closes at 12:00 p.m.
December 25: Office Closed
January 1: Office Closed
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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