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UMVRDC Hosts Bus Tour for Board and Staff

by Dawn Hegland on August 9th, 2011

The UMVRDC held our annual meeting on Tuesday, July 26 at the Maynard Event Center in Maynard, MN. This year’s meeting capped off a day of touring the region and visiting some of the cities and businesses that the UMVRDC has impacted with our work.

UMVRDC Staff and Board members started the day at the Maynard Event Center with a presentation by Jacki Anderson on the Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) Small Cities Development Program (SCDP). We were also joined by Bill Kashmark of Prairie Five Community Action Council who works closely with the UMVRDC on SCDP projects.

Board and staff line up for a photo in front of the Prairie Five Rides bus.

We boarded a Prairie Five Rides bus in Maynard and drove through town while Bill pointed out some of the businesses and homes that were rehabilitated through SCDP grant funds. Jacki also talked about the SCDP funds that helped the city of Maynard build the Event Center.

From there we drove to Clarkfield, where we again drove by many SCDP rehabilitation projects. Bill was able to give us great insight into how important the SCDP program is to our cities and recipients; he shared many examples of people who would not have been able to stay in their homes without the help of SCDP. We were also able to see how the UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund has made an impact on Clarkfield businesses. We toured Clarkfield Family Foods, where RLF funds were used for remodeling and purchasing new coolers. We also toured Handeland Chirporactic, a new business in Clarkfield. Dr. Brad Handeland used RLF funds to purchase equipment and remodel office space in the Clarkfield Mini Mall.

Board, staff and visitors socialize over burgers at the Friendship Cafe in Clarkfield.

For lunch, we walked to the Friendship Café, also in the Clarkfield Mini Mall. Trevor Suckow, one of the café owners, greeted us with some background on Friendship Café and shared how Jacki helped him obtain RLF funds to purchase the café. Gene Kockleman, Clarkfield Mayor and Steve Weske, Clarkfield City Administrator, joined us as we enjoyed a lunch of burgers chosen from the vast burger menu at Friendship café.

After lunch, we re-boarded the bus and drove to Swift Manufacturing near Clara City. We toured Swift with Doug Buchanan, who showed us the innovative work Swift is doing with elevators, grain dryers, and other agriculture and manufacturing products. Swift Manufacturing is an RLF borrower; they used funds for working capital to expand their sales territory and enhance marketing efforts for new product lines.

Doug Buchanan showed us one of many products they make at Swift Manufacturing near Clara City.

From Swift, we made our way into Clara City, where we got a tour of the old Clara City School. It is being redeveloped into apartments, a community center, and catering facility by a company called Caring Bridge LLC. As we left Caring Bridge Apartments, we drove past more Small Cities Development Program commercial rehabilitation recipients: Kay’s Processing, Main Street Fitness, and Kegger’s Bar and Grill.

Next, we drove to Granite Falls, where we were greeted at City Hall by Mayor Dave Smiglewski, City Manager Bill Lavin, and former UMVRDC Executive Director Paul Michaelson. There was a short presentation on the work the UMVRDC continues to do with the Granite Falls flood and disaster recovery. We rode the bus all around

Mayor Dave Smiglewski highlighted many of the flood and hazard mitigation projects that have happened in Granite Falls.

the city of Granite Falls to look at the many projects that have been worked on, such as the building of a levy, flood wall, moving homes and businesses out of the flood plain, and their new City Hall building. There have been many accomplishments made in Granite Falls to protect it from future flooding.

The group then heard from the Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization Team. The group used the strategic planning services of the UMVRDC to help narrow down their list of potential projects, and match those projects with potential resources.

Members of the Granite Falls Riverfront Revitalization team showed us the work in progress at the K.K. Berge building.

The group has purchased the K.K. Berge building and is working to raise the main floor to bring it above the flood plain. Greeting us and explaining the project were Dennis VanHoof, Granite Falls Economic Development Authority Director; Nicole Zempel, Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce Executive Director; and Brad Hall, a volunteer. The work on the building is scheduled to be completed by the first weekend in October, just in time for Granite Falls to host the kick-off event for the Meander Art Crawl. Both VanHoof and Zempel expressed appreciation for the work done by the UMVRDC, especially our efforts in regional tourism with programs like Prairie Waters.

After we left downtown Granite Falls, we made a stop at the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society Museum. The Museum is the site of one of the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Interpretive panels designed by UMVRDC staff. The panel is near the world’s oldest rock, and is one of a series of panels placed by the Byway.

This interpretive panel educates readers about the importance of the "World's Oldest Rock" near Granite Falls.

As we left Granite Falls and headed back to Maynard, there was lots of discussion on the bus about all the projects we had seen throughout the day. It was the first time many of our board members had seen first-hand examples of the work the UMVRDC staff does on a daily basis.

The bus brought us back to the Maynard Event Center for the Annual Meeting. We were joined by Mayor Richard Groothuis, who shared details about the renovation and process of using the SCDP funds for the Event Center. After the business portion of the meeting was completed, we enjoyed a meal catered by Budger’s Dinner House of Maynard.

The Maynard Event center is a great place to hold a business meeting.

Board members and staff agreed that the day was packed full of useful information, and that seeing so many examples of our work in the region makes us proud to be a part of the UMVRDC!

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