All of the staff at the UMVRDC wish you and your family a very happy holidays and all the best in 2022!
Brianna Sanders joined the UMVRDC in November 2021 as a Community Development Specialist. She will be working on the MnDOT Transportation Planning Program and Safe Routes to School. In May 2021, she graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics with minors in Leadership, Political Science, and Sustainability Studies. Previously, she has worked at Region Nine Development Commission as an Economic Development Intern and is excited to continue working in community and economic development. Brianna grew up on a farm just outside St. James, MN and now lives in Ortonville, MN.
Successful Grants for Memorial Park
Funding requests to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) and to the DNR Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) for improvements to Memorial Park in Granite Falls have both been approved.
The request to the DNR CPL grant for $33,863 will be used to remove invasive species on the south and west sides of the wetland. This project will be completed in 2022.
The request to the GMRPTC for $596,000 will be used to restore the Historic Park Entrance Piers, add some improvements around the shelter, and construct a trail around the wetland. This area of Memorial Park will become an important park access corridor and will provide another opportunity to experience Memorial Park’s unique ecosystem.
This request will be formally approved the in Spring of 2022 and start July 2022. This project will take two to three years to complete. This is the fourth phase that has been funded by the GMRPTC legacy funds. With the CPL Grant and several successful GMRPTC funds, the UMVRDC has secured more than $2million in grant funding for Memorial Park since 2016.
The City of Granite Falls and the UMVRDC are partnering with Damon Farber landscape architects, MnDOT, and the DNR on these proposed projects. The UMVRDC assists with the grant writing, environmental review, and the master planning process.
CEDS Planning Finalization
Over the course of this year, UMVRDC staff developed a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) that will be used by the RDC to guide economic development work between 2022 and 2026. The CEDS is a regional economic roadmap that helps map out economic development goals and includes an action plan to address the issues and opportunities highlighted in the plan. The goals were developed by a combination of a CEDS Strategy Committee made up of representatives from all over the region, public engagement, and UMVRDC staff.
In November, the draft CEDS was posted for public review on the UMVRDC website and sent to various stakeholders for review by December 24. The UMVRDC would like to thank reviewed, the CEDS will be edited and proposed for adoption by the UMVRDC in January 2022.
Area businesses helped through the Revolving Loan Fund
The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) provides funding for business startups or expansions in the five-county region of Swift, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, Big Stone, and Chippewa counties. Businesses should work with their financial institution and be looking at financing real estate, equipment, or working capital. The UMVRDC can be a funding partner with a financial institution and can offer a low rate of interest for the term of the loan. The UMVRDC RLF has special gap loan funding available for businesses impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic. In July of 2020, the RLF received an additional $1.72 million for their loan fund as a result of the CARES Act. The RLF has closed 15 loans for a total of $1.52 million since receiving the CARES Act funding in June 2020. The remaining CARES funding has been committed but is waiting for the loan to be closed and for funds to be disbursed.
New CARES Act RLF Loans closed Include:
Dustin German dba Montevideo River Side Auto Body
Handeland Granite Falls LLC
10th AVENUE REBUILDERS, LLC
Meander Art Crawl Success
After the Meander Online Art Auction in 2020, Meander was able to go back to their usual, in-person event in 2021. With 41 artists spread out over the five-county area, Meander once again created a great buzz and was an overall success. Event goers were eager to get back to the in-person art crawl and that showed through in the Meander 2021 results.
A total of $139,872 was reported in art sales from the Meander weekend. Average sales per artist were up $500, for a total of $3,412, a substantial amount compared to the past many years. There was an average of 513 customers at each studio throughout the weekend. Seventy seven percent of people said the quality of the art was excellent, while 80% said the overall experience was also excellent. There were also 81% who noted that they plan to attend again next year.More Meander Stats
Master Plan for the Appleton Area Off-Highway Vehicle Park
A master plan has been developed for the Appleton Area Off-Highway Vehicle Park and was adopted by the Swift County Board on December 21st, 2021. The UMVRDC and the Appleton Area OHV Park Steering Committee developed this plan over the past 18 months. The purpose of this master plan is to justify regional park designation through the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) so that Swift County can access grant funding for park development.
The direction of the plan centered around a park user survey asking users where they came from, how old they were, how long they stay, how they learned about the park, how many people were in their group, why they visit the park, how many times they have visited the park, and what new amenities they would like to see added to the park.
Four recommendations that were the result of analyzing the user survey include: adding convenience amenities to the park, improving connections for the park, expanding the park, and maintaining the park.
Improvements to the park were based on this park user feedback and input from the Steering Committee.
- Convenience amenities for the park are intended to improve the park user experience with upgraded toilets, running water, vehicle wash stations, parking lot improvements, and a new day-use area anchored by a proposed swimming beach.
- Connections to the park, mainly in the form of improved crossing conditions near the west-side entrance off Highway 59, and an OHV route through the City of Appleton, will help users get to the park from their homes and campgrounds.
- Expanding the park has been a consistent demand by park users and to meet this demand four nearby parcels of land have been identified for possible park expansion
The final plan was developed with mapping and cost estimates completed by Hagsrom Engineering. Development Features to be added to the park include:
- Day-Use Beach Park
- Main Trail Parking Lot
- East Side Trailhead
- South Parcel Trailhead
- Lakeview Walking Trail
- Formalize Connection Trail
- Spectator View Areas
- Land Acquisition
The total cost estimate for the park is $1,182,362. This has been split up into two phases. The final plan will be submitted to the GMRTPC in early 2022 for consideration to become a regional park. Click here to view a copy of the master plan summary.
Annual Survey Looks to Identify Top Regional Issues
The UMVRDC is just finalizing 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.
More than 500 surveys are sent out to elected officials and staff from the local units of government in our region asking about their top concerns and projects for their unit of government. UMVRDC staff will be analyzing results and presenting them to the UMVRDC in January. Thank you to all who took the time to fill it out this survey and provide valuable feedback!
To review the summaries from our survey in the last two years, check out our website.
Mark your Calendar!
December 31: UMVRDC Office Closed for New Year’s Day Holiday
January 17: UMVRDC Office Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
January 25: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Location TBD || 6:30 p.m.
February 21: UMVRDC Office Closed for President’s Day
February 22: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Location TBD || 6:30 p.m.
March 22: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Location TBD || 6:30 p.m.
Winter is here!
Check out all the winter fun there is to be had in our region in the video below! Brought to you by the Western Minnesota Prairie Waters program.