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Mar 7 18

Introducing kids to technical careers

by Melissa

This is a great opportunity for our schools to collaboratively connect students with careers in demand across SW MN. To learn more check out

Feb 16 18

New Funding Opportunity for Career and Technical Education Courses

by Melissa

There is a new funding opportunity through the SWWC Service Coop to introduce new career and technical education courses at area high schools. Several schools in the region are already participating and several more are in the planning stages.

“The Rural Career and Technical  Education Advisory Board is excited to announce that Launch Your Future Today (LYFT) Pathways funding is available to high schools (and their partners) to develop shared career and technical education (CTE) courses and programs.


LYFT is a rural CTE pathway initiative with the purpose of rebuilding CTE in southwest and west central Minnesota. The goal of LYFT Pathways is for every secondary student in the region to gain marketable skills through meaningful CTE courses and opportunities which lead to further education and careers that match our region’s labor market needs.


LYFT is funded through a $3 million Rural Career and Technical Education Consortium Grant, which was passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2017. The legislative funding is scheduled to run through June 30, 2019 (with an opportunity to extend the use of funds beyond that date).”


LYFT Highlights

  • At least two or more high schools cooperating with one another
  • Development of new CTE courses or expansion of existing courses
  • Courses match local or regional labor market needs
  • Collaboration with business partners for program content
  • Hands-on learning opportunities
  • Sustainable after first year funding


Courses Include:

Basic Mechanics

Information Technology Concepts

Intro to Manufacturing and Engineering

Intro to Medical Careers

Nursing Assistant


You can also check out additional collaboratives by school district using this map

To contact someone about the program follow this link:

Feb 16 18

MN Department of Labor & Industry Apprenticeship Summit 2018

by Melissa

Is there a business in your community that could benefit by an apprenticeship program?

The MN Department of Labor & Industry is hosting an apprenticeship summit on March 7 in Brooklyn Center. It is FREE and includes a day full of opportunities to learn about what and apprenticeship is and how it might work for a business.

“The Minnesota Apprenticeship Summit includes speakers and panel discussions from a range of industries and organizations. Workshops are designed for employers who have years of experience with apprenticeship, and for employers interested in creating their first program. Registration is required, but there is no cost to attend the Summit, which includes breakfast, lunch and all workshops. Apprenticeship industries for the Summit include construction, health care, and manufacturing as well as other high-growth industries like transportation, IT and agriculture. “

To register or learn more check out the website:

Feb 6 18

Appleton Comprehensive Plan Ready for Review.

by Melissa

The Draft City of Appleton Comprehensive Plan is now available for review at the following places:

The plan was completed by the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission 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 Comp 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.

There are seven planning topics in the plan and each section includes an overview of each topic, and goals and strategies that should be worked on.  The implementation chapter gives an outline on how to use the plan and give an action plan with guidelines on how to prioritize the strategies.

The public review period will last until March 7th, 2018. Comments will be considered before the Appleton City Council adopts the plan. To give comments go to:

For general questions or comments, contact:
Kristi Fernholz, Senior Planner
320.289.1981 x 106

323 West Schlieman Ave. Appleton, MN 56208

Jan 31 18

Resources Available for Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

by Melissa

Application Deadline is February 16, 2018

Topic areas include challenges such as:

  •  Improving bike and pedestrian access in communities
    •    Integrating arts, culture, and design elements to improve the transportation experience
    •    Developing recreational trails for mobility and economic development
    •    Creating public space that supports play and active recreation
    •    Improving access to healthy food and local food eco-systems
    •    Utilizing creative placemaking strategies, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation to enliven main street.

CIRD 2018

Residents view the preliminary MacIntyre Park master plan vision and student projects during a tailgate event for the 2016 Thomasville, Georgia CIRD Workshop. Photo by Angela Moreno-Long, Project for Public Spaces

January 10, 2018

Washington, DC— The  Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD), a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, has issued a request for proposals inviting communities to apply for design assistance. The CIRD program provides rural communities with populations of 50,000 or less the opportunity to address challenges related to economic vitality and quality of life by employing design solutions. CIRD convenes two-day workshops with design professionals, local leaders, community organizations, and residents to create a plan for tackling issues around three topic areas—multimodal transportation, healthy living by design, and main street revitalization.

Topic areas include challenges such as:

  •  Improving bike and pedestrian access in communities
    •    Integrating arts, culture, and design elements to improve the transportation experience
    •    Developing recreational trails for mobility and economic development
    •    Creating public space that supports play and active recreation
    •    Improving access to healthy food and local food eco-systems
    •    Utilizing creative placemaking strategies, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation to enliven main street.

To host these workshops, successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend, and in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance, which are valued at $35,000. Selected communities are required to provide $10,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind services). The workshops include site visits, panel discussions, and presentations led by professionals who have expertise in a range of rural design topics.

Organizations interested in applying for the CIRD 2018 workshop program will find the request for proposals posted on the CIRD website with the accompanying application guidelines.

All applications must be submitted electronically on or before February 16, 2018, at 5 pm EST. The four selected organizations will be announced in April 2018, with the workshops held in the fall of 2018.

Since its inception in 1991, CIRD has convened 83 workshops in all regions of the country with results that range from strengthened local economies, enhanced rural character, the leveraging of cultural assets, and the design of recreational trails. Read more about CIRD’s successful past workshops and explore the resource-rich website gathered from diverse organizations across the country. It is a place for citizens and practitioners alike to access information and inspiration to improve their own communities.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) is a design leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, Inc., and the Orton Family Foundation.
About the National Endowment for the Arts 
Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.

About Project for Public Spaces, Inc.
Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states.  PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about Placemaking. Visit PPS at

About the Orton Family Foundation
Orton Family Foundation is focused on building stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant small cities and towns across America. Founded in Vermont in 1995, the foundation devoted more than a decade to working with small towns to create a community development model that helps build trust and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities. Community Heart & Soul® projects are underway across the country creating positive change that is resident-driven and recognizes the value in the unique character of each place and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there. Visit Orton Family Foundation at