October 2019
Kick Off Event Held For Mankato Safe Routes to School Program
Region Nine will be leading the ten-month 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.
A comprehensive and effective SRTS initiative can help create a healthier community for generations to come. SRTS teams consist of people with the knowledge, skills, and experience to implement the elements of SRTS. Region Nine kicked off the 2019-2020 program on October 14, 2019 at the Blue Earth County Library with team members from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Mankato Public Schools District 77, and the City of Mankato, among others.
The Right Talent, Right Now: Employers Hiring People With Disabilities Month
Written by Carol Pankow, Assistant Commissioner of Workforce Services, for DEED Developments Blog

In a historically tight labor market, now is the time for more Minnesota employers to consider hiring people with disabilities. On October 10, DEED Commissioner Steve Grove and I recognized more than two dozen Minnesota employers , who are leading on this front and breaking down barriers and hiring people with disabilities. Now more Minnesota employers will do the same.

Increasingly, more Minnesota employers are finding out about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities. This under-tapped labor pool consists of talented and dedicated employees, many of whom are helping more businesses grow and thrive across the state. One manufacturing employer at the event noted how his business saw a turnover rate fall from 72% to 7% because of a greater focus on hiring people with disabilities — and another employer stressed that the minimal costs of accessibility accommodations are far less expensive than turnover costs.

Most importantly, hiring people with disabilities is an employment and economic equity issue. Minnesotans of working age with a disability are four times more likely not to be participating in the labor force compared to Minnesotans without a disability. And more than 110,600 people with disabilities live below the poverty line in Minnesota.  

As the former director for State Services for the Blind (SSB), I always remind employers that the best candidate for the job might be blind, low vision, or DeafBlind. A three-minute video,  How Can I Do This Job If I Can’t See  shows blind, low vision and DeafBlind workers using high-tech and low-tech solutions to get the job done.  

To help raise awareness about the essential contributions of employees with disabilities, Governor Walz declared October Employers Hiring People with Disabilities Month . DEED is committed to working with employers to help them recruit, hire and retain people with disabilities through DEED’s  Vocational Rehabilitation Services Employment Specialists  and  State Services for the Blind services for employers .  
Here’s a quick look at what we’re doing at DEED during October to elevate Employers Hiring People with Disabilities Month: 

  • SSB and other partners hosted an employer training on October 9 on retaining employees with disabilities and creating a culture of inclusion.
  • An Employer Appreciation Breakfast and Roundtable, co-hosted by SSB and Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS), was held October 10 and recognized 27 Minnesota employers who are leading the way with exemplary hiring and retention practices.
  • We’ll continue to share success stories from employers and employees throughout October.
Join the City of Lake Crystal for a Public Meeting Showcasing Lake Crystal's Strategic Economic Development Plan
The Lake Crystal Strategic Economic Development Plan will be the result of a seven-month initiative between Region Nine and the City of Lake Crystal that creates a comprehensive picture of Lake Crystal's economy, position, and reputation within the region. This plan incorporates public engagement and feedback that allowed RNDC to verify findings, test assumptions, and uncover additional challenges or opportunities that the city may face.

At the public meeting, staff from Region Nine will present the plan, key findings, answer questions from the audience, and discuss potential next steps for the city.
2019 Kiester Action Plan
The City of Kiester was awarded a grant, the Small Cites Grant, by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation last fall to create an action plan.

This plan will act as a guide and tool to aide Kiester as they look to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities. This plan identifies next steps that both residents and city officials can take toward maximizing growth potential while completing priorities chosen by the community in order to create a vibrant and resilient future.
Digital Marketing: Display & Search Marketing for Your Business
Friday, November 22nd
7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

Best Western Plus,
2101 S. Broadway
New Ulm, MN
This event is FREE and open to the public. Light breakfast provided.
Digital marketing can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! In this presentation you will learn about:

Digital display & search marketing
Determine what is best for your business
Choosing a budget
Measuring campaign success
It’s not just about Google anymore

About the Speaker:

At Lime Valley Advertising, Brian Maciej has worked as production artist, graphic designer, art director, and account manager, and he has owned the agency since 1996. With this diverse background, Brian is able to guide staff and advise clients, resulting in award-winning and highly effective marketing communications materials. Brian is also a guest lecturer at local schools. He delivered the keynote address at MnSCU Design for Technology Conference in 2009. Brian is a runner-up for Connect Business Magazine‘s Business Person of the Year 2011.

RSVP Deadline Extended!
Region Nine Development Commission, in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension for Community Vitality and the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and generous support from the Bush Foundation, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Mankato Area Foundation, and Saint Peter Public Schools, will host the first ever Southern Minnesota Equity Summit on November 1, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Saint Peter, Minnesota.

The Southern Minnesota Equity Summit will host keynote speakers Jane Leonard, President of Growth & Justice, and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan as well as an Equity Innovation Panel with panelists from the Bush Foundation, Mankato Public Safety, St. James - United Cultures, Northfield Health Communities Initiative (NHCI), Greater Mankato Diversity Council, and Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

The afternoon breakout sessions will focus on strategies and tools for use in the sectors of
business and industry, education, community groups and nonprofits, and government. Learn more about the breakout sessions here .
Call 507.934.3048 ext. 1 to register today! Registration also available online . Space is limited. Ticket price of $30, scholarships available. Reservations are due by October 21 .

For questions on scholarships or registering for the event, please call 507.934.3048 ext. 1.
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Revolving Loan Fund

Region Nine administers a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) 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.

Some specific guidelines may apply. Region Nine welcomes partnering with other lenders to assist local businesses to succeed and thrive.

Deadline: Ongoing
Safe Routes boost grants for non-infrastructure funding now available

Safe Routes to School Boost grants are the answer to your SRTS non-infrastructure needs! Through these grant awards, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will support communities with existing Safe Routes to School plans, or other comprehensive SRTS approaches, in advancing non-infrastructure strategies for schools that support making it safe, easy and fun for students to walk and bicycle to school.

SRTS Boost grant awards are intended to begin work in April 2020, completing work by June 2021.

Deadline: January 10, 2020
Calendar of Events
November 11: Office Closed - Veteran's Day
November 28 & 29: Office Closed - Thanksgiving
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 www.rndc.org.
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