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2017 December Newsletter

New Website Launch! – Coming January 2018


In January 2018, Western Minnesota Prairie Waters will be doing a "soft" launch of the NEW website. New features of the website will include information that would make it easier for a potential newcomer to move to the region. 

We have redesigned the website to include information on employment opportunities, housing, education, healthcare, childcare and stories. The Prairie Waters website is currently the one-stop-shop for all the things to do within the region, the new website will include useful information for a potential newcomer. Over the next year we will continue adding content, resources and widgets to the website making it as useful and user friendly as possible. The URL for the website will remain the same: Check back frequently for updates!

New Public Art in Montevideo:
RUSTICIAN (hunt and gather…seek and find)

Montevideo’s latest public art installation began with a 1920’s era tractor and was enhanced with back lit stained glass panels by artist Karl Unnasch this past October. It is expected that the tractor, which is to be lit 24/7, will become a new tourist attraction and symbol for Montevideo, much like the painted rail car and the mural behind the José Artigas statue on Main Street. 
Unnasch calls his installation "RUSTICIAN (hunt and gather…seek and find)".  His stained glass panels are based on interviews with local residents and historical research.  The images are blended in a montage and contain subjects that have been significant to the region throughout its history. The McCormick Deering tractor will display images from the pre-industrial to the post-industrial era, as well as images that have transcended the two spans of time.
Unnasch received his BA in Art from Winona State University in 1995 and his MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2003. His smaller-scale work has been exhibited as far as Europe and his larger-scale, award-winning public art has been featured on NBC’s Today show and Voice of America. In 2013, Karl was counted among the Artists of the Year by the Minneapolis CityPages. Over the last decade, Unnasch has been installing notable works at prominent locations including educational facilities, medical wings, banks, theatre lobbies, libraries and public gathering spaces. 

About the project
UMVRDC senior planner, Kristi Fernholz, has been assisting Montevideo with their public art projects. She is contracted to coordinate meetings, research project ideas, look for funding resources, write the grants, and manage the project. Kristi Fernholz can be reached at 320-289-1981×104 and

2017 Meander Economic Impact

The Meander: Upper Minnesota River Art Crawl continued to be a success in its 14th year. After the three-day event, artists reported $111,920 in art sales. That averages out to $2,870 per artist which is $202 more than last year. The artists weren’t the only ones in the region who benefited either. Meander attendees spent an average of $43 on food and gas, $11 on shopping outside the meander, and $18 on lodging.
There was also great turnout for the meander, with artists averaging between 800-1500 customers. 45% of those people were from the 5-county region where the Meander takes place. 17% were from greater Minnesota, outside the 5 counties. 25% were from the metro area and the last 13% were from outside the state. 

GREAT Turnout at the 2017 Prairie Waters Annual Gathering

The 2017 Prairie Waters Annual Gathering took place in October at Swift Falls County Park. More than 150 people attended the event, and 35 classic cars came for the roll-in. Other activities included pumpkin painting, s’mores roasting, and a scavenger hunt. There was free food and prizes as well.

The annual gathering rotates through the Prairie Waters counties every year. The purpose of the gathering is to highlight unique assets within the region by inviting locals and visitors to somewhere they might not have been before. 

UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund

The Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) works to help businesses by creating financial package to fund their start-up or expansion project. A primary focus of the UMVRDC’s RLF is job creation and retention in our region. During the last few months the UMVRDC was busy closing loans with Clarkfield Enterprises located in Clarkfield along with Western Consolidated Cooperative based out of Holloway.  $260,000 in RLF financing allowed these two businesses to retain and create 32 jobs within our region. Contact Laura Ostlie at 320-289-1981 ext 102 or email today to find out how we can help businesses in your community. Take advantage of the UMVRDC’s current low interest rates that can assist in financing fixed assets, real estate, and working capital.  

Granite Falls Memorial Park Recommended for $732,261

Memorial Park
Granite Falls continues to improve Memorial Park, which was designated a regional park in 2016. The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission announced their project recommendations to the legislature for the FY 2019 budget. Granite Falls has been recommended for $732,261 to make improvements to Memorial Park as part of their next phase. The UMVRDC has been working with local leaders and experts to develop plans and funding applications. Past projects can be found here.

This phase will be focused on the south side of the park. It will develop the RV campground closer to the new shower house, and turn the existing campground into a nature-based playground area.  It will restore the ecological landscape on the south side of the park, improve the overlook trail and add signage to the entire park.

"The Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission was established in 2013 to carry out system planning and provide recommendations to the legislature for grants funded by the Legacy Parks and Trails fund to counties and cities outside the seven-county metropolitan area, for parks and trails of regional significance. Of the 47 regionally designated parks and trails in the Greater Minnesota system (at the time of application), the Commission received 19 applications and selected 13 projects totaling $8,809,875, to recommend for legislative approval."
The GMRPTC, created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013, undertakes system planning and provides recommendations to the legislature for grants funded by the parks and trails fund, to counties and cities outside of the seven-county metropolitan area for parks and trails of regional significance. For more information on the GMRPTC and the designation and funding process please visit:

Center for Small Towns – Fall Students

This past Fall, the UMVRDC has once again partnered with the University of Minnesota Extension’s Center for Small Towns program. We’ve been working with three students on a variety of projects. Two students worked on collecting interviews and creating videos for the UMVRDC’s Revolving Loan Fund clients. The videos highlight the client’s business and talks about the success of using the RLF program.

 Another student created city/county demographic profiles for the 2018 Prairie Waters members. The profiles consist of quick demographic facts in an infographic form. These profiles will be displayed on the new Prairie Waters website and will be available for cities, counties, and/or businesses to utilize. The UMVRDC is grateful for the partnership and relationship with the University in helping complete large projects on a minimal budget. 

City of Watson & SW Lac qui Parle County to Receive Broadband Grant

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) announced the 2017 Border-to-Border Broadband Grant recipients and the City of Watson, and parts of southwestern Lac qui Parle County were awarded a total of $760,501. The money will go to Farmers Mutual Telephone and the communities to build out wireline and fixed wireless broadband infrastructure to serve 136 unserved households, 15 unserved businesses, and 5 community anchor institutions. Broadband service levels will be improved to 1 Gbps (gigabytes per second) when downloading and 1 Gbps upload, which exceeds the 2026 statewide speed goal. 

Broadband infrastructure is a priority in the UMVRDC region and these investments in it will help support job creation and economic prosperity, helping numerous regional businesses create jobs and be more competitive. New jobs related to farming, home-based business start-ups, and commercial expansions are all possible with improved broadband and infrastructure. It will also provide better accessibility to healthcare and educational opportunities for all residents in the region. The total eligible project cost is $1,552,043, with a $791,542 local match. 

Contact Kirk Bustrom with any questions by calling 320-289-1981 ext. 111 or emailing

Mark Your Calendars!

December 25: Office closed for Christmas Day

January 1, 2018: Office closed for New Year’s Day
January 23, 6:30 pm: RDC Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Appleton City Council Room

February 19: Office closed for President’s Day

February 27, 6;30pm: Office Closed for Thanksgiving
Appleton City Council Room

March 27, 6:30 pm: RDC Board of Commissioners Meeting
Appleton City Council Room

Regional Video – Check it Out!   ||   320.289.1981  Like us on Facebook

Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission 
323 W Schlieman Ave. Appleton, MN 56208

Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development, 323 West Schlieman Avenue, Appleton, MN 56208
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