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Oct 20 14

Farm to School Grant Program

by Melissa

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant Program supports Minnesota school districts and child care centers in the processing of Minnesota agricultural products. Grants are intended to:

  • Create feasibility plan that identifies specific equipment, tools, training or policies needed by school districts and child care centers;
  • Purchase equipment to allow schools and child care centers to purchase, prepare and serve more Minnesota grown and raised food.

Proposals must be received no later than 4:00 PM on Monday, November 3, 2014.

Apply on-line.
For instructions on how to register to apply, review this tutorial (PDF: 867 KB / 8 pages).

Request for Proposal and Application (PDF: 132 KB / 9 pages)
** MAC Users: Please complete the form using Adobe Reader. **

For more information visit Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Oct 17 14

Kerkhoven welcomes a NEW General Store

by Melissa
The outside of Lamecker's General Store, located in Kerkhoven.

The Lamecker’s General Store is located in Kerkhoven, MN right on Highway 12.

Kerkhoven, Minnesota welcomed a new General Store this summer! Owners Scott and Teresa Lamecker opened Lamecker’s General Store doors on June 26th, 2014 with the help and support from family, friends, and the community. The community was 110% behind the Lamecker’s since the town has been without a hardware store since April of 2013, after the Schutt family had closed its doors. To add to the loss Dave’s Family Foods closed its doors last fall, and that’s when Scott realized bringing back a general store is just what their community needed.

A lot of planning and work was done prior to the opening day. Scott coordinated efforts with United Hardware (supplier) to determine inventory variety and amounts. The entire layout of the building was completely reconfigured, along with adding new flooring, lighting, shelving, and freshly painted walls.

Scott and Teresa are also working on building connections with area farmers. They aim to offer the farmers the ability to order some of the general supplies they need for their farm operation through the store’s supplier. Scott and Teresa pride themselves in being able to fill a need in their community and to offer it with small-town quality service.

The store offers a variety of products, some which are the following: hardware, general cleaning supplies, household items, select grocery items, and much more. The grocery line that has been incorporated into the store offers the community the ability to buy the more “essential” or “staple” foods. This service will be greatly appreciated when the blizzard-like conditions occur each year. The milk, meats, fruits, and vegetables that are sold in the store actually come from local producers.

The inside of Lamecker’s General Store which offers a wide variety goods and services.

The financing of this project included owner equity, community group investment, Kerkhoven’s Financial Security Bank, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Swift County RDA, and the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission’s Revolving Loan Fund.

Lamecker General Store was one of the three loans that were closed this fiscal year for new and expanding businesses in the region by the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission’s (UMVRDC) Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The amount loaned out this fiscal year totaled $186,000.  A combination of 22 jobs were created or retained as a result of these business start-up and retention projects. A total of $1,438,000 was leveraged in public and private funds.

If you’d like to learn more about the RLF and its ability to aid in making business start-ups and expansions a reality, contact the UMVRDC today! Call Randy Larson at 320-289-1981 ext. 102 or e-mail or check out the RLF page on the UMVRDC website


Be sure to swing on into the Lamecker General Store next time you’re in the area and check out their newly remodeled store, along with their great line of services!

Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Address: PO Box 166-907 Atlantic Ave Kerkhoven, Minnesota
Phone: 320.264.3711
Facebook: Lamecker’s General Store 


Oct 13 14

Region 6W Talks About Public Sector Role in Local Broadband

by Melissa

Article written by: Ann Treacy

Last week, I got to be a fly on the wall during a fun discussion in Appleton Minnesota, hosted by UMVRDC (which covers five counties) and the Blandin Broadband Team of Bernadine Joselyn and Bill Coleman. I wanted to write about the meeting because I think they are on the cusp of a couple of trends in Minnesota:

  • People are talking about broadband – not just for geeks anymore!
  • The focus has broadened from city, to county, to region
  • The public sector is wondering what they’re role is; the private sector is wondering what the public role it too.

So why are people talking about broadband? Money. I think the Minnesota State Broadband Fund has got people thinking. Now this follows the ARRA funding and Google community competition from a few years ago. So we may not be on the bleeding edge here. But the previous discussions set a fertile ground and I think the push to get state funding got people who aren’t interested in broadband or broadband sake interested.

One of my favorite comments from the meeting came from a county director of IT. There was a move to further discussions and he noted that we needed to bring new people to the table. There was a time when IT wanted IT to discuss broadband – but not they are willing to open the door and others are happy to walk through.

So what are they talking about? Economic development, cost savings and innovation. The top topics discussed defined by attendees included:

  • Economic Development
    • Fear of losing jobs
    • GIS apps – for management and to attract outdoor enthusiasts
    • Need to start with online transactions as young people won’t come into the courthouse to pay a bill
    • Some counties have online credit card applications
    • Local banks want to counties to go online
    • Workforce transition to tech
    • An online presence is important!
    • Getting businesses to have websites, maintain websites and use social media
  • Spurring use by existing businesses
  • Spurring innovative tech use
  • Resource sharing
    • Staff
    • GIS info
    • Servers/Equipment
  • Workforce

They talked about barriers and benefits and what’s currently happening, which includes a couple applications for the State Broadband Fund and a history and interest in working with the Blandin Foundation.


  • People
  • Competition
  • Differing priorities in counties


  • Regional Network –
  • Anchor tenants spend lots of money
  • Use backbone to spur last mile
  • Regional IT Committee
  • Regional IT (& others) Events
  • Fix redundancies

The counties were in different places as far as broadband access goes – but they were happy to share the relationships they had, especially the relationships that helped to build successful broadband networks – for example in Lac qui Parle County. They recognized the opportunity to build upon each other’s success.

They all were overworked – having more to do and no more staff to do it, which spurred the great interest in resource sharing. Having shared IT support would build human redundancies. (Maybe allow for phone-free vacations!) Creating standards among the counties would help support such an effort. They recognized the opportunity for many hands making light work – or again just supporting redundancies.

They also recognized that especially with middle mile and institutional networks that the value increases the more folks who are on it and the cost goes down the more that folks can ante up for the network. Scott County was lifted up as a great example of a county that had been able to build their network and recoup costs through reduced rental fees. It’s a good example of how public sector can support ubiquitous access – by building or supporting the building of middle mile infrastructure.

They realized in the end that it makes sense to meet regularly to talk about ideas and plans and just to check in to see where there are opportunities for collaboration and cost saving.

It was fun to see my colleagues Bill and Bernadine lead the group through the process. And this is an area where I have worked on broadband adoption projects, so it was also fun to see folks see opportunities to do even more – to create even greater value from the network. (If you want help in your community, you could contact the Blandin Foundation to ask about Community Broadband Resources grants.)

Oct 13 14

The EDA Center is Requesting Proposals for Assistance

by Melissa

The EDA Center at the University of Minnesota, Crookston is one of more than 40 university centers nationwide, supported by the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.  The EDA Center conducts applied research, provides direct technical assistance and delivers educational programs to economic development agencies that support the economy of economically-distressed rural communities throughout Minnesota.    This Request for Assistance (RFA) is designed to solicit requests from community, county and regional economic development agencies seeking direct technical assistance to support their economic development activities. This RFA will be the mechanism by which the EDA Center will identify its annual technical assistance projects.   All project requests will be assessed by EDA Center staff and advisory council for staff costs and time commitments.

Eligible Applicants: Public, tribal-supported and nonprofit economic development agencies supporting rural areas.

Types of Assistance:  The EDA Center does not specifically define the types of assistance that rural economic development agencies may seek. Accordingly, the EDA Center will accept and review all requests for assistance from eligible applicants.  The driving consideration in evaluating RFAs is potential regional impact and availability of university expertise. Typically, the EDA Center has found success finding expertise in assisting economic development in organizations in the following ways:

  • Market Research
  • Technology Studies
  • Workforce Development Studies & Support
  • Economic Impact Analysis
  • Student-supported Projects and Internships
  • Product Development Assistance
  • Strategic Planning Services
  • Statistical Studies
  • Technology Deployment Planning
  • Support of Entrepreneurial Program Development

Project Timelines: Due to constraints of EDA funding, project time lines should be less than 12 months in duration.

Costs of Assistance:   The EDA Center does not have require matching resources it delivers technical assistance to, however we generally limit average project costs to less than $20,000.  In addition, the EDA Center takes a partnership approach with the organizations it serves rather than an outside consultant.  This means that technical assistance projects include clear mutual responsibilities between the EDA Center and the economic development agency.

EDA Center Priorities: The EDA Center will prioritize project requests based on the following criteria:

  1. Location in an economically-distressed area.
  2. Impact on job creation, recruitment or retention.
  3. Impact on the effectiveness of the economic development agency.
  4. Project duration of less than 12 months.
  5. Overall project costs.

How to Apply: The application process to request assistance from the EDA Center is simple and streamlined.  Simply complete the RFA application along with a cover letter.  Applications can be downloaded at to be submitted via email or completed and submitted online at .  

Application Deadlines: There are no set deadlines for submitting technical assistance requests. Each application will be evaluated and responded to in a timely manner.   Have Questions: Contact Joyce Hoelting, EDA Center Director at (w) 612-625-8233 or email at   You may also contact Eddie Walker, EDA Center Research Analyst at 218-281-8251 or email at  


Oct 2 14

Connecting Students and Communities (CSC) Program

by Melissa

Connecting students and communities (CSC) program

Is your organization looking for assistance? The “Connecting Students and Communities” (CSC) program through the Center for Small Towns and the University of Minnesota Southwest Sustainable Development Partnership, provides the service of a University of Minnesota, Morris undergraduate student to help local units of government, K-12 schools, or community-based organizations in the areas of research, project administration, or other support.

Applications are for a 150 hour commitment Spring Semester 2015 (mid January – mid May). Preferences will be given to applicants who will be able to provide a financial match to help offset the cost of hiring a student and travel expenses. However, those without matching funds will be considered as well.

The application is open September 29th through October 20th, 2014. To apply on-line go to  

CST staff can assist your organization in the development of the application. If the proposal is funded, staff will also help in the coordination of activities related to the student’s involvement and help provide technical assistance related to these projects. If you have questions, need assistance, or want a paper copy of the application contact Jessica Beyer at (320) 589-6451 or

You can find the Center for Small Towns online at our website: our facebook: and our twitter:

If you are receiving a CST News Bite for the first time, we want you to know that there is a lot happening at the Center for Small Towns at the University of Minnesota, Morris. As one of our key contacts, a leader in the region, and a friend of the Center, we want to keep you apprised of the new and exciting ventures we are working on and exploring. We will be sending you news bites in order to keep you informed. As always, feel free to contact the Center for Small Towns at 320-589-6451 or at any time for questions, inquiries, suggestions or comments.