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March Newsletter 2018

by Melissa on March 29th, 2018

Community Development Planner Scholarship Available NOW



UMVRDC Community Development Planner Scholarship
What is a community development planner? Are you interested in work that makes a difference in rural Minnesota? Candidates that are passionate about their work, who are curious to find options and solutions for locally identified issues, and who relish in the idea of working on a diverse portfolio of work are ideal for this career field.
Planners influence roads, parks, internet access, buildings, public policy, natural resources and many other aspects in the cities and counties around us. If so, YOU might want to consider a career as a community development planner!


Scholarship Requirements:
Application Process Click here to download the full application (RDC Scholarship)
1. Submit the application materials as requested below.
2. Applications will be considered throughout the year until all designated scholarship funds are awarded.
3. Application finalists will be invited to a personal interview with the scholarship committee.
4. Applications will be announced within 30 days of the interview.
5. Attach an essay (2-page maximum single spaced) explaining why you are interested in the planning field and what you hope to do with your degree after college graduation. Attach a letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor. For questions contact UMVRDC’s Executive Director, Dawn Hegland at 320.289.1981 x 101. 
Completed applications should be sent via mail or email to:


Dawn Hegland
UMVRDC Executive Director
323 West Schlieman Ave
Appleton MN 56208


Want to learn more about our agency or the region? Check out our agency hiring video; the UMVRDC or Western Minnesota Prairie Waters websites; or search for UMVRDCPrairie Waters, or Get Rural MN on Facebook; or review our most recent annual report. Check out this short video about what a planner does The American Planning Association and the MN Chapter have some wonderful resources about the role and job responsibilities of a planner.
Sample Colleges and Universities in the Midwest with Planning Degrees
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • Minnesota State University-Mankato
  • St Cloud State University
  • University of Iowa – Iowa City
  • Iowa State University – Ames
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Ball State University – Muncie, IN



New Regional Website to Help Attract Residents, Workforce and Visitors




The NEW Prairie Waters website launched January 2018! The Prairie Waters website was originally the one-stop-shop for all things to do within the region, the new website now includes useful information for people looking to move to this region. We have redesigned the website to include information on employment opportunities, housing, education, healthcare, childcare, and stories.


Over the next year we will continue adding content, resources, and widgets to the website making it as useful as possible for people looking to move to this region and visitors. Check back frequently for updates!





Clarkfield Childcare Grant Assistance

 The UMVRDC assisted the City of Clarkfield in preparing a DEED Greater Minnesota Childcare Grant application to benefit their future childcare facility. The grant application was done in partnership with Southwest Initiative Foundation and will be used in the purchase of playground equipment for at the Cardinal Kids site. If your community is interested in the RDC assisting in some grant writing, please contact Laura at 320-289-1981 ext 102 or to see how the UMVRDC can assist you.



City of Appleton Comprehensive Plan “Our Innovative Path”



The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission has been working on the comprehensive plan for the city of Appleton since thefall of 2016. We have completed 12 meetings with the task force and have gotten input on land use, housing, economic development, infrastructure, transportation and community vitality.


The Draft City of Appleton Comprehensive Plan is now complete and available for review at the following places:
The plan was completed by the UMVRDC who worked with the Appleton Comprehensive Plan Task Force committee that included Lori Andreas, Lindsey Bruer, Leslie Ehrenberg, Roman Fidler, Maureen Heinecke, Gary Hendrickx, Justin Koepp, Doug Moe, Tom Moe, Jody Molden, Chad Syltie, and Gene Wenstrom.


This plan is meant to guide the city for the next 10 years:  2018-2028.  A plan serves as a legal basis for land use regulations and it provides guidelines for the city council and decision makers on how best to use city resources.  It also gives an opportunity for residents to voice their shared vision for the community.


The Appleton Comprehensive Plan includes information on the past, present and what it hopes for the future. The community profile includes demographics, a brief history of the community, a snapshot of where Appleton is today.  The community vision outlines where the community hopes to be in 10-20 years.
For more information on comprehensive planning for your community, contact Kristi Fernholz at 320-289-1981×104 and



Welcome Isaac Jensen! 




Isaac started with the UMVRDC in January and is working as a Planner, where his work will focus on transportation. He can be contacted at 320-289-1981 ext. 107 or at

Welcome Isaac!




New UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund Loan Recipient



The Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) works to help businesses by creating a 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.  Jamers 1 Stop in Clinton, MN was able to utilize RLF dollars to reopen the local convenience store.  The $20,000 loan closed in March and was part of a financing package that will create three jobs along with providing essential services such as gas and food in the Clinton community.


Take advantage of the UMVRDC’s current low interest rates as they appear to be on the rise! The funds can assist in financing fixed assets, real estate, and working capital. Please do not hesitate to contact Laura Ostlie at 320-289-1981 ext 102 or email today to find out how we can help businesses in your community.





New RLF Board Member
We are pleased to introduce the most recent addition to our board – Jeffrey Lopez. Jeffrey joined the Revolving Loan Fund advisory board in February 2018. Jeffrey has been a County Commissioner for Chippewa County since 2000.
As a county commissioner, Jeffrey is involved in many other organizations such as the Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital, Clara City EDA, Soil & Water, Countryside Public Health, Planning Commission, Hawk Creek Watershed Board, Chippewa County Relay for Life and the Clara City Prairie Fest committee.


Jeffrey and his wife Linda reside in the Clara City area where they own Lone Tree Farm, LLC. They are also managing partners in a couple of ag production companies. He is an active member of the Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Clara City where he currently serves as their president. During Jeffrey’s spare time he enjoys target shooting and training his black lab to pheasant hunt.



Opportunity Zones




Congress established the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investment in low-income and urban communities nationwide through a new community development program called Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Funds are a new class of private sector investment vehicles authorized to aggregate and deploy private investment into Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Funds allow U.S. investors holding unrealized gains in stocks and mutual funds to pool their resources in projects located in Opportunity Zones, which will be invested in rebuilding low-income communities. Opportunity Funds pool investments in designated Opportunity Zones.
The Opportunity Zones program is designed to incentivize patient capital investments in low-income communities nationwide. All of the underlying incentives relate to the tax treatment of capital gains, and all are tied to the longevity of an investor’s stake in a qualified Opportunity Fund, providing the most benefit to those who hold their investment for 10 years or more.
Each governor is authorized to designate 25% of the eligible census tracts as Opportunity Zones in their state. In Minnesota, this means the Governor can designate 128 census tracts as Opportunity Zones out of an eligible 509 low-income census tracts. The Governor also has the option of including up to 5% of census tracts that are contiguous with an eligible census tract but are not themselves low-income tracts. In Minnesota, the Governor could designate up to 74 tracts as contiguous out of the state’s 128 designated Opportunity Zones.
The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission supports the nomination of Opportunity Zones throughout the region it serves. This program could provide an important mechanism for investment in in the area. The Upper Minnesota Valley region is a great place to live, visit, grow a business and raise a family. Small town values and work ethic make it a perfect place for growing a business. The region is ideally positioned for long-term investments made possible through the designation of Opportunity Zones.
Contact Kirk Bustrom  by calling 320-289-1981 ext. 111 or emailing or Laura Ostlie by calling 320-289-1981 ext. 102 or emailing with any questions.





Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program




Every fall, FEMA offers a grant program called the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – a national program meant to assist underfunded fire departments with the replacement of old, worn, and damaged equipment. The grant program can pay for turnout gear, SCBA, training, and other equipment like scene lighting, thermal imaging cameras, and gas detection units.


The UMVRDC has begun contacting fire departments across the five-county region to coordinate county-wide regional applications for the program which is expected to open this Fall. Several fire departments in the region have already expressed interest. If successful, these applications could bring in up to $5M across the five UMVRDC counties!
If your local fire department is in need of anything, please have them contact



Small Cities Development Program


The UMVRDC authored a $1.1 million Small Cities Development Program grant application for the City of Clarkfield.  Through this application, the City has requested grant funding to assist in the rehabilitation of 20 owner occupied homes, five commercial properties, along with getting a new water tower to meet some of their ongoing infrastructure needs.  Applications were due in late February and awards will be announced in the early summer months.


Granite Falls 
The UMVRDC authored a $625,000 Small Cities Development Program grant application for the City of Granite Falls.  Through this application, the City has requested grant funding to assist in the rehabilitation of 11 owner occupied homes, 7 single family rental houses,  and 6 commercial properties. Applications were due in late February and awards will be announced in the early summer months.
If your community is interested in the RDC assisting in some grant writing, please contact Laura at 320-289-1981 ext 102 or  to see how the UMVRDC can assist you.




Mark Your Calendars!
March 30: Office closed for Good Friday


April 24, 6:30 pm: RDC Board of Commissioners Meeting 
Appleton City Council Room


May 22, 6:30 pm: RDC Board of Commissioners Meeting
Appleton City Council Room
May 28: Office Closed for Memorial Day


June 26, 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



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