May 2019
Stay Connected with Region Nine During ACE 11
Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson will be participating in the 11th Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE 11), as a selected ambassador for the program, from May 18-25, 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.

Stay up-to-date on the exchange program by following Region Nine, #ACEXI , and #ACXchange on social media!
Region Nine Partners with Mankato Area Public Schools for Safe Routes to School Program
Mankato, Blue Earth receive Safe Routes to Schools grants
By Kristine Goodrich, The Free Press
Safe Routes to Schools grants announced this week will help the city of Blue Earth add trails and improve pedestrian routes, and will help update a plan for pedestrian improvements near Mankato schools.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is granting $2.3 million to 29 cities and school districts to support infrastructure and programs that encourage more students to walk and bike to school and to make their routes safe.

Mankato Area Public Schools is among 18 recipients of planning grants. The district received $25,000 to partner with the Region Nine Development Commission to update and expand its Safe Routes to Schools plan.

The plan was drafted in 2013 and included desired improvements around six of the district's elementary schools, said Shawn Schloesser, Region Nine community and business development specialist.

The wish lists for those schools will be updated, and needs around the new Prairie Winds Middle School also will be evaluated and added to the plan.

The work will begin in August, Schloesser said, and likely will be completed next spring.

The city of Blue Earth is among 11 cities receiving grants to help implement components of their plans. Blue Earth is getting $91,000 to aid trail, sidewalk and crossing improvements it will make in 2021. The city previously received a $246,000 federal grant to support the project that City Administrator Timothy Ibisch said is estimated to cost around $500,000.

The city plans to add a trail along Leland Parkway, near an apartment complex. A new sidewalk segment also will be added at the high school — from the parking lot and along Fairview Street to connect with existing sidewalk along Highway 169.

Other work will include street and railroad crossing projects to improve pedestrian safety and handicap accessibility. A sidewalk leading to the elementary school also will be replaced with a new path.
Mankato bucks trend of rural population decline
Region struggles to attract, retain workers amid a deepening labor shortage
Only Blue Earth County has seen population growth via domestic migration in the first eight years of this decade, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this month. It was part of a trifecta for Mankato — more births than deaths, an increase in foreign-born residents and more Americans making Mankato their home than former Mankatoans moving elsewhere — that pushed the county's population up by 3,414 to 67,427.

Blue Earth County has now moved ahead of Rice County as the 13th most populated among Minnesota's 87 counties.

"I think a lot of community leaders have been really thoughtful about how we attract and retain people," said Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission.
Need a Business Loan? Region Nine Can Help!
LuAnn Vanderwerf
RLF Coordinator
507-389-8878 |
Need a business loan? Has a bank denied your request? Region Nine administers a Revolving Loan Fund program to assist existing businesses, as well as new entrepreneurs, in securing financing they are otherwise unable to secure through traditional channels. The primary goal of the program is to create new jobs, or retain existing jobs, in the region. Preference is given to businesses that will add full-time skilled or semi-skilled positions. Region Nine welcomes partnering with other lenders to assist local businesses to succeed and thrive.

Success Stories:
High School Age Youth Commissioner
Are you, or someone you know, a high school student in the region and interested in serving your community through local government? Region Nine Development Commission is inviting applications to serve as a public interest commissioner representing high school youth. This is an excellent opportunity for high school 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 High School Age Public Interest Commissioner seat is a two-year appointment to represent high school-aged youth on the Region Nine Development 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 such as high school youth. 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 Wednesdays 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 May 24, 2019.

Questions? Contact Peter Bode, executive assistant, at or 507-389-8864.
Mark Your Calendars!
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
Mankato, Blue Earth receive Safe Routes to Schools grants- Read the Free Press article

Mankato bucks trend of rural population decline- Read the Free Press article

Region Nine Development Commission Talks Future of Improvement Program- Read the KEYC article
$$ Grant Opportunities $$

The Minnesota PIPELINE (Private Investment, Public Education, Labor and Industry Experience) Program is an innovative approach to address current and future workforce needs. The program works with employers to change the conversation from “How do we find workers with the skills we need?” to “How do we GIVE workers the skills we need?”

PIPELINE exists to support employers in creating or enhancing a competency based dual-training approach where workers receive a combination of related instruction strategically paired with on-the-job training. Dual-training grants through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education provide funding for employers to create new and expand existing dual-training initiatives.

Deadline: Ongoing
Pilcrow Foundation Funds Children's Book Acquisition for Rural Libraries

Rural public libraries in the United States that have suffered loss and damage due to recent natural disasters (flooding, fire, hurricanes, etc.) may be eligible for special non-matching grants: Disaster Relief Grant information .

The Pilcrow Foundation, a national non-profit public charity, provides a 2-to-1 match to rural public libraries that receive a grant through its Children’s Book Project and contribute $200-$400 through a local sponsors for the purchase of up to $1200 worth (at retail value) of new, quality, hardcover children’s books.

Deadline: October 1, 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 aging, economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more about our work and mission, visit
See what is happening on Region Nine's social sites: