Appleton and Madison Look to Improve Broadband Options
The UMVRDC recently authored two grants to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). DEED received a special allocation of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to respond to the growing effects of this historic public health crisis.
In Appleton, the proposal will be to procure a provider through a request for proposal that will build out fiber connections to residents and businesses. Grant funds will be used to support residents by offering increased connectivity for telework, telemedicine, telelearning, and televisits within the city of Appleton. The grant also included a commercial rehabilitation component for at least 12 businesses to update new or repaired Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning systems with good ventilation and safe air circulation. The total project cost for Appleton is $5,774,000 and includes a grant request of $3,699,000. Matching funds will come from the City of Appleton through the Economic Development Authority, Swift County, and several local funding sources including a cash match requirement from the selected broadband provider.
Madison will also use funds to procure a broadband provider through a request for proposal that will build out fiber connections to residents and businesses in town. Grant funds will be used to support residents by offering increased connectivity for telework, telemedicine, telelearning and, televisits within the city of Madison. The total project cost for Madison is $4,560,000 and includes a grant request of $2,560,000. Matching funds will come from the City of Madison, Lac qui Parle County, and a cash match requirement from the selected broadband provider.
Community Employment Toolkit to Help Recruit Employees to the Area
As a result of the employer interviews that were conducted last summer, the UMVRDC has created an “toolkit” which contains lifestyle and relocation information for employers to use during their employee recruiting process.
UMVRDC staff will create toolkits customized for each Prairie Waters member city that will be shared with employers. The employers can simply send the toolkit as a link to a potential new employee, where they then have access to information on resident stories, housing, healthcare, education, child care, employment, telecommuting, things to do, videos, photos, and more. The employer also can customize their toolkit by adding any information pertaining to their business.View Toolkit
Madison Economic Development Authority Partners with the UMVRDC to promote the City
The Madison Economic Development Authority reached out to the UMVRDC to assist in creating marketing materials to use for recruiting new residents to the city of Madison. The UMVRDC brought a long list of potential ideas, and the city narrowed it down to three projects: create six resident stories; create quality of life infographic posts highlighting the city’s housing, healthcare, education, child care, employment, telecommuting, things to do, and community engagement; and create a marketing plan and social media calendar to implement the new materials.
In addition, staff added this information to the community “toolkit”, which contains lifestyle and relocation information for employers to use during their recruiting process.
UMVRDC Hires Summer Interns
The UMVRDC has hired two interns to assist with the following projects throughout the summer.
Swift County Environmental Services
The UMVRDC is working with Swift County on a project aimed at educating the public and businesses about separating recyclables and compostable items. It has been 30 years since Swift County Environmental Services first implemented its program through which garbage was to be sorted into three categories: processible items (recyclables,) compostable items, and non-processible items. Over the years, the program gradually faded with people throwing their non-processible and compostable items into the same container. The UMVRDC will work with Scott Collins, Swift County Environmental Services Director, to create a county-wide educational program for residents and businesses about the importance of sorting garbage to reduce the tonnage that had to be shipped to a landfill. An intern from the University of Minnesota, will go door-to-door, business-to-business, and town to town explaining the benefits of sorting organic materials out of the waste stream. In addition, the UMVRDC will create social media campaigns, run newspaper and radio ads, along with billboard ads highlighting the importance of recycling and the location of the trailers within the county.
This project’s overall goal is to entice people to want to visit and/or move to the region through creative photos and storytelling. For this project, the intern will get creative with the photos and tell a story by capturing content of someone walking on the sidewalk downtown, shopping, or enjoying food on a patio, etc. This project will be utilizing the social media platform, Instagram. The intern will be creating a uniform page with beautiful presets, utilizing “stories” and Instagram live, and getting creative with captions. The intern will also deliver visitor/relocation guides while making connections with local employers.
The UMVRDC will continue its work in building an inventory of properties that are available to be purchased and developed. The first phase occurred last year and identified dozens of properties throughout the region that were entered into an international data base that the State of Minnesota uses for its site selector promotion. The Prairie Waters website also pulls this data into their website to promote business opportunities in the region. The purpose of this is to create a place for people to go to find property that is available to start businesses, etc. The intern will be assisting in contacting communities to gather data on all of the developable properties. The intern will also be updating last year’s listings, taking photos of property, and gathering detailed information about each property to complete a property profile. To see what is available in our region now click here.
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
This internship will update information about discovery sites on the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway website, take photographs along the Byway, write itineraries, and especially look a the Google map and to ensure all locations are marked correctly.
Explore Minnesota Tourism Crisis Grants Help Promote the Region
Prairie Waters was awarded a $10,000 Crisis Marketing Grant from Explore Minnesota Tourism. The Tourism Crisis Marketing Grant Program is designed to provide advertising dollars to individual, established non-profit destination marketing organizations and primary promotion agencies so they can remain visible to customers during this difficult period. They also aim to continue stimulating travel for the economic benefit of their destinations. The funds were spent on the following:
- South Dakota Magazine ad
- Pioneer Public Television’s Prairie Sportsman Sponsorship
- Yellowstone Trail ad
- Facebook ads driving viewers to the new shop local webpage on prairiewaters.com
- Local newspaper and radio ads
Child Care Resources available at the UMVRDC
In response to annual survey results from both 2019 and 2020, the UMVRDC has been working to understand the complexities of the child care crisis and how it is being addressed in the region. Staff has developed case studies on child care providers. Based on conversations with other organizations working on the topic, the UMVRDC has developed a three-part plan of action.
- Collect relevant information about childcare and how it impacts communities in the region.
- Connect with experts and providers in the childcare field that have the knowledge on the topic.
- Share the information gathered on the UMVRDC website and social media.
The UMVRDC continued to collect resources and information about child care. Information in the form of available trainings, news articles, webinars, research, and funding sources from industry experts has been shared with existing and potential childcare providers and listed on our website.
Staff also connected Jessica Beyer from First Children’s Finance and Marge Knudson from Prairie Five Community Action and asked them to give a presentation to the UMVRDC board in April. They gave presentations and answered questions on how their respective organizations work with current and potential child care providers in the region.
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Creation is Underway for 2022-2027
One of the largest economic development projects that the UMVRDC is focusing on this year has been writing and developing a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). CEDS is a document that is composed of economic issues that the region faces, the economic goals that the region wants to achieve, and the solutions to reach those goals.
There are many different requirements set forth by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) that the UMVRDC must follow to complete the CEDS properly. As of now, background research and the formation of the CEDS Strategy Committee have been completed. The CEDS Strategy Committee is made up of representatives of different economic interests from all over our region. On May 14th, the CEDS Strategy Committee met for the first time and identified strengths that the region has, the issues that it faces, and what future we want to create. Different public participation strategies, which will be the next phase of composing the CEDS were also reviewed by the committee.
The CEDS will be worked on continuously throughout 2021. The goals and strategies that are found in this document will be to help map out the future of economic development in the region for 2022 – 2027.More CEDS Info
Improvement Plans for the Off Highway Vehicle Park in Appleton
Over the past year, the Appleton Area OHV Park Steering Committee met to capture park user feedback, review site conditions, and consider proposed improvements for the purpose of developing a park master plan. 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 committee consisted of three Swift County staff and elected officials, two Department of Natural Resource (DNR) employees, two local park users, two planning staff from the UMVRDC, and a landscape architect from Hagstrom Engineering.
UMVRDC staff developed a public participation plan to gather park user feedback. 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 were the result of analyzing the user survey:
- Add convenience amenities to the park
- Improve connections for the park
- Expand the park
- Maintain the park
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 committee has developed final recommendations, presented them to the Swift County Board, and continues to work with the County on development of a public engagement plan.
Revolving Loan Fund Helps Four Local Businesses
The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) has special gap loan funding available for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2020, the RLF received an additional $1.7 million for lending as a result of the CARES Act. The RLF can provide funding for business startups or expansions in the five counties of Lac qui Parle, Swift, Yellow Medicine, Chippewa, and Big Stone. 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, followed by a low fixed interest rate for the remainder of the term. The UMVRDC has already processed a total of 11 new loans totaling more than $1,148,172 through the CARES Act RLF Fund, has an additional three approved loans and waiting to be closed, and a few additional applications waiting for review. If you know of a new or expanding business in our region, have them contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about financing through the RLF or visit our website.
Total CARES Act RLF Loans
- Sunshine & Whiskey- Watson
- Lein Lumber- Madison
- Granite Falls Woodworks- Granite Falls
- Devo’s Paint and Body- Dawson
- Madsen Family Chiropractic, PLLC- Montevideo
- Williams Family Companies, LLC-Squeaky Clean Car Wash- Granite Falls
- Evenson Properties, LLC -Ambient Chiropractic – Benson
- Hanson & Dahl Funeral Home Inc d/b/a Anderson TeBeest- Granite Falls
- The Montevideo Design Group, LLC- Montevideo
- JAT HOLDINGS, LLC- Montevideo
- Wager Chiropractic, P.L.L.C.- Dawson
Meander Art Crawl Planning to Return to In-Person Event in 2021
The Meander Art Crawl will take place this year on October 1st, 2nd, & 3rd! The art crawl will be back to the usual, in-person event this year and planning is already underway. Staff and artists are excited to welcome event-goers back to the counties of Chippewa, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Big Stone to explore the work from 41 local artists.
2021 Meander Brochures are hot off the press! Visit the Meander website to request yours today.