Happy Holidays from the UMVRDC!
From all of us at the UMVRDC – Happy Holidays! We hope this season is filled with joy for every one of you!
Thank you to our out-going board members!
We would like to say “farewell” and “best wishes” to the following board members:
Jay Backer joined the UMVRDC board in January 2019 representing Big Stone County. We have appreciated his input and stewardship of our organization and are grateful for his contributions, energy, and time. Thank you!
Lucas Olson has represented Swift County Municipalities for the past five and a half years. Lucas’s positivity and involvement with the board will be missed. Lucas’s support of the organization and staff have been much appreciated.
Michele Backer, the Big Stone County Municipality representative, is stepping away from her board member role. Michele has sat on our board for the past three years. In her own words, “It was rewarding and an honor to be on the UMVRDC board.” Her engagement and participation will be missed. Thank you!
Joe Fox has represented Swift County as a member of the Loan Advisory Board since January 2014. We are thankful for Joe’s dedication and commitment to serving his time by helping to improve and expand business growth in our region. Thank you!
Congratulations to Chippewa County and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company
On December 8th, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Develop (DEED) announced the recipients of their latest round of Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grants. The Border-to-Border Program was created with a focus of providing financial resources to assist new and existing providers to invest in building broadband infrastructure into unserved and underserved areas of the state. There were 61 projects in 48 counties receiving almost $100 million in this round of grant funding.
UMVRDC partnered with Chippewa County and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company (FMTC) to prepare an application this summer. The total project cost is $10,507,080 and the grant portion from DEED amounts to $4,728,186. The program allows a maximum award of $5 million and a required minimum local match of 50%. The local $5,778,894 in match for this project will be provided by the County, FMTC and Rosewood and Louriston Townships.
This last mile project will provide fiber to the premise service to 636 unique locations across 10 townships in rural portions of Chippewa County in Western Minnesota. 577 of these locations are unserved and 59 are under-served. The locations served include 15 community institutions like township halls, churches, or other public property; 10 rural businesses; 256 farms and 355 residential locations. It should be emphasized that a high number of locations could be included in multiple classifications (farms, rural residences, and rural businesses). Together, Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, Chippewa County, Louriston and Rosewood Townships and the State of Minnesota will share the cost to provide 300 megabits per second symmetrical or 1G symmetrical service throughout the project area, exceeding Minnesota’s 2026 state speed goal. The project area has little or no current access to consistent and reliable broadband. This lack of access prevents the locations in this grant from participating in a digital economy, tele-health, e-learning, precision agriculture, integrating smart technologies into the homes and buildings, and participating in social, civic and recreational online activities. Broadband access will also help attract and retain residents and businesses in the county that supports the local economy and tax base. Building a fiber-to-the-premise network that provides advanced, high-speed broadband services will position Chippewa County for the future.
Ortonville awarded a Small Cities Development Program Grant
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Develop (DEED) recently announced the 2022 Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) awards totaling $20,820,999 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, rental rehabilitation, commercial rehabilitation, public facility improvement projects, community centers, and streetscape projects.
The City of Ortonville was awarded a grant for $782,000 to rehab 16 owner occupied homes and four commercial buildings. UMVRDC staff wrote the grant and will provide the administration of the grant. The UMVRDC will contract with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership to provide construction management services.
UMVRDC RLF Invests in Business Growth in Region
Milennium Theater in Montevideo recently was approved for a $150,000 loan from the UMVRDCs Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The theater has been making steady improvements like reclining seats and a new candy and popcorn store. This loan will help the theater with new equipment as part of their theater expansion that will add new screens and opportunities in the growing entertainment complex. The RLF was also joined in joint funding by Citizens Alliance Bank, Montevideo EDA, and the Southwest Initiative Foundation.
The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund is designed to provide gap financing for business and industry starting up or expanding in the five-county region of Big Stone, Chippewa, Lac qui Parle, Swift and Yellow Medicine. The primary focus of the program businesses that will create or retain jobs. The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund participated in Thirteen projects over the last fiscal year assisting with gap financing for business start-ups and expansions needing working capital, inventory, fixed assets, and real estate. Last year, a total of $1,380,172 in revolving loan funds were lent out and helped generate an additional $6,727,672 in leveraged financing from public and private sources along with owner investments.
The UMVRDC RLF has funding available now to support business development in the five-county area.
The 19th Meander Still Draws a Crowd and Makes a Significant Economic Impact
In its 19th year, the Meander Art Crawl continues to draw art enthusiasts from near and far to the Upper Minnesota River Valley region to browse the art of 41 local artists.
The UMVRDC continues to serve as the fiscal agent for the Meander. The annual event offers a chance for the public to meet with the region’s top artists in their studios nestled among the small towns and family farms found in the Upper Minnesota River valley. According to a report issued by the UMVRDC, 86% of customers said their overall experience at the Meander was excellent. This has event-goers already looking forward to the next Meander, with 87% of attendees planning to come back in 2023.
Is your community idea friendly?
On November 15, the UMVRDC and the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) partnered to bring national speaker Deb Brown from Save Your Town to the region to talk about the redevelopment of underutilized spaces in communities. Deb’s presentation was intended to be a local conversation starter about what local communities can do to help redevelop underutilized spaces. In the afternoon, Deb met with economic development professionals from SW Minnesota and brainstormed specific examples and at 7 p.m. that evening Deb gave a presentation that also had both a live and virtual participation option and was recorded for use by local community groups and boards later as they talk about what to do in their community.
This event follows up on a regional trend the UMVRDC has been seeing for some time on our annual issue survey. It supports the redevelopment potential of properties in our developable properties inventory and the resulting community visioning that UMVRDC staff, Kevin Ketelsen, is finalizing with Dawson, Madison, Montevideo, Benson, and Ortonville on one property in each of their communities. The event also is in alignment with one of the goals in our recent CEDS to support and grow the number of businesses in our region by emphasizing redevelopment opportunity areas to provide places for entrepreneurs to open businesses.
Deb Brown collaborates with Becky McCray at Save You Town and has her own business, Building Possibility. You can find more details about their idea friendly process and their no-nonsense, “just do it” strategies here. The UMVRDC has been a follower of Deb and Becky for a long time and believe their message is right sized for our small rural towns. Check out this video on the idea friendly town.
The UMVRDC and SWIF worked closely with Pioneer Public TV to produce and record the event and we want local individuals, groups, councils, and boards to consider watching it or portions of it as they talk about what to do with redevelopment in their own community.
All Staff Retreat Success
In early November, more than 80 employees from regional development organizations in Minnesota came together for the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO) All Staff Retreat in Mankato. The two days were filled with presentations from RDCs and state and local partners. Topics included housing, residential recruitment, cybersecurity, economic development, teambuilding, child care, and more. It was an excellent opportunity for staff to network with other RDC staff and learn from one another.
Register your school for Winter Walk to School Day!
Bundling up and playing in the snow is a cherished activity for students. Celebrate winter and all things Minnesota by participating in the annual Winter Walk to School Day! Whether it’s walking to school for classes or exploring your neighborhood with family, we hope you will get out and enjoy this wonderful, wintry season!
After all, this is Minnesota, the land of ice fishing, hockey, cross-country skiing, fat biking, and sledding – why wouldn’t we throw a Walk (and Bike) to School Day party in the middle of the winter? Dig out your hats and gloves, organize your volunteers and get stepping for Winter Walk to School Day, February 1, 2023.
Register for Minnesota’s Winter Walk to School Day and Minnesota Department of Transportation will support your efforts with fun ideas and downloadable materials!
2022 Prairie Waters Recap
It was a great year of accomplishments for the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters Regional Marketing Program!View Recap
Mark Your Calendar!
January 2: UMVRDC Office Closed for New Year’s Day Holiday
January 16: UMVRDC Office Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day Holiday
January 17: Local Resources to Speed Up Your Hiring Process Webinar
Register Here | 11:00 a.m.
January 24: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center | 6:30 p.m.
February 1: Winter Walk to School Day
February 20: UMVRDC Office Closed for President’s Day Holiday
February 28: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center | 6:30 p.m.