Happy Holidays from the UMVRDC staff! 2020 has seen many changes for all of us, but one thing remains the same—our gratitude for the opportunity to work with each and every one of you. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!
UMVRDC Welcomes New Grant Management Specialist
Bernice (Berny) Robinson joined the UMVRDC in October of 2020 as the Grant Management Specialist. She is excited to be part of a team working with grant funds that assist and support rural communities. She has experience in writing and managing federal grants. She is passionate about living in this rural area and helping the region thrive.
Previously, Berny was the Executive Director at the Lac qui Parle Health Network where she wrote grants and led projects for the network that focused on integrating mental health into primary health care. She was also the Fiscal Director at the United Community Action Partnership (UCAP) in Marshall, Minnesota for many years and was responsible for all the financial, and some compliance pieces of grants. UCAP writes and administers many Federal, State and local grants and works with some of the same grants that the UMVRDC does—like the Small Cities Development Program.
Berny lives on Big Stone Lake, with her husband, Rick, and black lab, Frankie. She loves spending time in the outdoors hiking, boating, and especially, kayaking. She has two adult children and three grandsons. Welcome, Berny!
Since local businesses need support more than ever this year, staff created a Shop Local webpage on the Prairie Waters website that includes a robust listing of all of the places to eat, shop, and stay in the region. Each tile includes a photo, description, and link to website or social media. Staff also created a Shop Local campaign on Facebook, driving viewers to the new webpage on the Prairie Waters website.View Shop Local Page
UMVRDC 2021 Annual Survey Results are In
The UMVRDC just concluded their annual survey, which works to find out what the biggest issues and needs are for our region. Staff then use the results to help guide the workplan for the next year.
From the 476 surveys sent out to elected officials and staff from the local units of government in our region, we received 121 responses. Preliminary analysis of the survey results show that the following are the top five issues identified as most important in the region, appearing in ranked order:
- Childcare Accessibility & Affordability
- Improving broadband
- Demolition of Dilapidated Housing & Commercial Properties
- Road/Bridge Planning or Funding
- Comprehensive or Strategic Planning
UMVRDC staff are continuing to analyze the results and a full report will be released soon. Thank you to all who took the time to fill it out this survey and provide valuable feedback!
Meander Online Art Auction Success
Just like many other events in 2020, the Meander Art Crawl had to change and adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of the usual art crawl, the Meander Online Art Auction was held during the first weekend in October. Each Meander artist had the option to include up to three pieces of art on the auction, giving shoppers the opportunity to buy local art from the comfort of their own homes. A portion of each sale was donated to local food shelves.
A total of $23,740 was reported in art sales as a result of the Meander Online Art Auction. A total of $881 was raised for local food shelves. The average reported art sales per artist was $765. Fifty five percent of shoppers went to an artist’s website to view more of their work as a result of the auction and 70% reported that they want to come to the Meander Art Crawl in future years.View Meander Stats
UMVRDC Helps Administer CARES Funding in the Region
UMVRDC staff were honored to work with both Chippewa and Yellow Medicine Counties in providing grants to local businesses and nonprofits as a result of their allocation of CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds. Staff worked with the county administrator and other county team members to discuss a process, design an application, and establish the guidelines. County IT departments were instrumental in helping to organize online application portals and county website content and setting up a process for the UMVRDC to manage the data and applications for the county. UMVRDC staff were tasked with answering questions that came into a designated county email about the program and in reviewing the applications and collecting documentation to support expenses for each application. Each county held two rounds of grant application reviews that allowed for some modification of their guidelines midway through their process. Ongoing communication with the county administrator about applications and the running total of the grant requests made the process move pretty smoothly. In the end more than $200,000 was allocated to businesses and organizations in Chippewa County and more than $575,000 was granted in Yellow Medicine County. The UMVRDC is thankful for the opportunity to be behind the scenes helping support local organizations in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Revolving Loan Fund Helps Six Area Businesses
The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) has special gap loan funding available for businesses impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the RLF received an additional $1.7 million for their loan fund as a result of the CARES Act. The RLF can provide funding for business startups or expansions in our five counties. Businesses must be working with their bank and looking at financing real estate, equipment or working capital. The UMVRDC can be a funding partner with the bank and can offer 0% financing for the first two years of the loan and very low interest for the remainder of the term. The RLF has been busy with new applications and has already processed six new loans totaling more than $500,000 and has several more in review. If you know of a new or expanding business in our region, have them contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about financing through the RLF.
New RLF Loans Include:
- Devos’ Paint and Body in Dawson
- Lein Lumber in Madison
- Sunshine and Whiskey in Watson
- Granite Falls Woodworks in Granite Falls
- Ambient Chiropractic in Benson
- Madsen Chiropractic in Montevideo
Maynard Bank Building receives $10,000 MNHS Grant
The City of Maynard received one of the two grants written by the UMVRDC for the Maynard State Bank Building. This historic building houses the Maynard History Museum. Grants were written to the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants Program through the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). The successful grant is for construction documents and design for roof repairs. The City did not receive the grant for construction documents and design for HVAC and masonry improvements. The direction of these projects came from the condition’s assessment completed for the building in the summer of 2020. UMVRDC wrote the grants and continues to assist with implementation of projects for the Maynard Bank Building.
Appleton Area OHV Park Master Planning
The UMVRDC has been working with Swift County in developing a park master plan for the purpose of applying for funding through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC). With the help of Hagstrom Engineering, the steering committee has been looking at potential future developments for the park.
Over the summer of 2020, a survey was distributed locally, as well as statewide through ATV groups, yielding excellent feedback in 270 responses. Responses were overwhelmingly positive, reflecting the value of the park to local users as well as out-of-state visitors. The survey asked a variety of questions including how often they have been to the park, what they do at the park, and what new amenities they would like to see added. The top four new amenities respondents wanted were:
- Public restrooms
- Camping near the park
- Trail connection to the City of Appleton
- Vehicle wash
Expansion of the park has been a consistent desire of park users and is being considered in this planning process that will be completed in the Spring of 2021.
Thank You to outgoing UMVRDC and RLF Board Members
The UMVRDC would like to thank the following board members for their service, dedication, and time spent on the UMVRDC board. The UMVRDC board will have five vacancies to fill in 2021.
Jim Dahlvang, representing Chippewa County has served for 19 years on the board. During that time, he has been a Chairman, Loan Advisory Board member to the RLF, Board of Director, and has been an ATP representative for District 8. His knowledge and insight will be missed. Enjoy retirement, Jim!
Warren Rau, representing Swift County Townships, has served 17 years on the board. During that time Warren has been a representative on the Loan Advisory board representing the RLF and has also been a Board of Director. He has been a valuable asset to the board, and we wish all the best in his retirement.
Roy Marihart, representing Lac qui Parle County has served the last four years. Thanks for your service and we wish you well, Roy!
Gene Bies, representing Yellow Medicine County municipalities has been on the board for the past four years. He also served as a Board of Director. We wish Gene all the best in his retirement!
Jim Curtiss, representing Chippewa County municipalities has been with us for the past year. We wish Jim all the best as he retires!
Thank you for your dedication, commitment and loyalty to the UMVRDC, as well as the region.
Revolving Loan Fund Board
Jeff Lopez, representing Chippewa County has served two years on the board. Erick Klepel, representing Big Stone County has served one year on the board.
Thank you for your service and we wish you the best. Both of these positions will be filled at the county level.
UMVRDC Offices Closed to the Public
UMVRDC offices remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The UMVRDC team is working remotely and are still here to assist you in any way, while continuing to work normal business hours. Visit our contact page and reach out to us with any questions or concerns.Contact Staff