Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley School District Receives SRTS Grant
Congratulations to the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley School District in their award of $38,515 from MnDOT for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) planning assistance! This planning assistance grant is to develop a comprehensive SRTS plan that will include an analysis of existing conditions, public outreach and identification of potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions to help more children walk and bicycle safely to school. The UMVRDC is excited to work with the City of Graceville, the City of Clinton, and the CGB School District as we start the SRTS planning process in late summer 2022.
New Job Search Tool on the Prairie Waters Website
Through CARES dollars, the UMVRDC was able to create a new widget that makes it possible to pull from multiple different online job boards and filter them to one spot on the Prairie Waters website, making it easy for job seekers to find current openings in our region. Users can filter by different companies and/or locations, they can also use the search feature by searching keywords. Also on the new webpage, users can find the new visitor/relocation guide, community lifestyle toolkits, and links to our online newspapers to further their employment searches. In June, staff launched a Google Adwords campaign that will be ran for four months to drive more traffic to this webpage and promote the area as a great place to live and work!Job Search
Meander Brochures Hot off the Press
The 2022 Meander Art Crawl brochures are hot off the press! This year’s cover art was created by Curt Soine. There will be 41 artists participating this year in studios across the five-county area.
The brochures are available on the Meander website. You can also receive brochures by contacting the UMVRDC office. The 2022 Meander is September 30th, October 1st and 2nd.
Brand New Prairie Waters Relocation & Visitors Guide Available
The new Western Minnesota Prairie Waters Visitor & Relocation Guides are being delivered to communities throughout the region and are available online for download or free mailing. The guide is full of things to do, community highlights, education, healthcare, events, resident stories, and more! It is a great resource for locals and visitors, alike. If you are interested in receiving the new guides, contact the UMVRDC. You can also check out the digital guide by clicking the button below.View Guide
Communities Work to Fill Vacant and Dilapidated Spaces
Vacant and dilapidated buildings and sites continue to be a significant issue within our region’s communities. These properties can be a public safety hazard, hinder development in their surrounding areas and contribute little to the tax base, in fact, many are tax delinquent. UMVRDC staff continues to look for ways to address this issue and one of the strategies that has been implemented, with support from the EDA CARES Supplemental Grant, is the Developable Properties initiative. Last year, available data on vacant buildings and sites throughout the region was collected and uploaded to LOIS (Location One Information System), a nationwide interactive database of available sites and buildings utilized by developers and site selectors. This data is also fed into the MN DEED site selector system, as well as our own Prairie Waters Site Selector page.
Upon completion of the data collection phase last fall, communities were asked to voluntarily select one of their properties to work with the UMVRDC and an architectural consultant on a visioning process to think about how the site or building could be best utilized to fit the current and future needs of their communities. Benson, Dawson, Madison, Montevideo, and Ortonville chose to participate in this process. The visioning process consists of an initial meeting with the architect to brainstorm on what the community would like the building to look like and potential ways it would be utilized. At the second meeting, the community is presented a few draft design concepts to consider and provide feedback. After that, the architect will present them with a design portfolio to use however they see fit – perhaps to market locally or beyond, share with local developer(s), or present it to local businesses or entrepreneurs.
To date, four of the five cities have begun working with the architect and the UMVRDC, with the fifth getting underway soon. It is our hope that the final product will result in bringing these buildings and sites back to productive uses while building excitement locally and addressing a persistent rural issue in our communities.
Upper Sioux Community All-Hazard Mitigation Plan Update
As a result of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, FEMA requires that local units of government must first have in place a multi-hazard mitigation plan to be eligible for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds. The UMVRDC was contracted in the spring of 2021 to complete the update for the Upper Sioux Community (USC).
The planning process included multiple meetings with USC staff, public input through a survey and review of draft copy, and research. All data and historical information needed to be updated. New hazards needed to be cataloged. All changes and completed strategies were documented. New strategies were developed based on changes in climate or other new local conditions to mitigate the negative impacts of those hazards. These strategies were prioritized.
After FEMA reviews the plan, the Tribal Council will be able to adopt it in the coming months. This project will be completed in the summer of 2022.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Partnership Grant Completion
The Byway was awarded a Minnesota Historical Society Heritage Partnership Grant in July 2020 for $64,000. The grant was for developing partnerships along the byway through developing itineraries and projects along the byway. The UMVRDC was hired as the project coordinator. The following was completed through this grant, which ends June 2022:
- Outreach to all discovery sites through an intern who delivered materials to discover sites and took photos to use in marketing. Developed new stickers to give away.
- Development of a Visitors Guide.
- Development of three itineraries in collaboration with a consultant from the Lower Sioux Indian Community Tribal Preservation Office:
- Wicipi Guide
- Dakota Language along the byway
- Ice, Water, Rock
- Review of a variety of projects such as redoing brochures, other possible itineraries.
- Website update that includes people being able to create their own itinerary.
Look for the visitors guide to come out in July 2022.
Resources for Area Businesses
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 bank and look into financing needs for real estate, equipment, or working capital with the UMVRDC RLF. The RLF offers an interest rate generally lower than their bank and can also introduce other financing partners with other financial and technical resources. For more information on the RLF terms, click here.
In July of 2020, the RLF received an additional $1.72 million for their loan fund as a result of the CARES Act and just this month we received another $500,000 in RLF funding to support businesses in the region. This new funding brings the RLF’s lending portfolio to more than $4 million. The RLF has 48 active loans throughout the region and has funding available to assist new clients. Donner’s Service in Clara City is the most recent closed RLF loan. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Throughout the last year the UMVRDC has developed a series of educational webinars for businesses. Recordings of these webinars can be found on our RLF webpage. Look for more resources for businesses later this summer!
Funding available for Schools through the EPA Clean School Bus Program
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting applications for the new Clean School Bus Program through August 19th. This program, which was funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides $5 billion over the next five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. EPA is offering $500 million through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates to school districts for zero-emission and low-emission school bus rebates as the first funding opportunity. Additional information about the program can be found here.
Charging Forward: Bringing Electric Vehicles to Rural America
From USDA Rural Development
USDA Rural Development (RD) invites rural partners and stakeholders to join a webinar on Thursday, July 7 from 2-4 p.m. ET to learn about federal funding opportunities and programs to help develop electric infrastructure.
Webinar participants will learn about funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that will be administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help develop electric vehicle infrastructure.
The Act provided $7.5 billion to DOE and DOT to build a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country. The Act also provided $5 billion for a bus replacement program. This includes $2.5 billion for electric buses and $2.5 billion for low-emission combustion engine buses.
Webinar participants will also learn about RD programs that can help develop electric vehicle infrastructure and support related community economic development opportunities.
RD wants to ensure people in rural communities are able to take advantage of these opportunities to expand their electric vehicle infrastructure as part of their broader economic development strategies.
Click here to register for the webinar.
Thank you to our outgoing board members: Mark Bourne – Lac qui Parle County Townships, Chuck Swanson – Upper Sioux Community, and Dawn Regnier – Canby resident.
They’ve all contributed great time, knowledge, insight, and fellowship to the UMVRDC board and will be missed. We thank them for their commitment and impact that they have had on the UMVRDC and the communities we serve.
Mark your Calendar!
June 28: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Appleton Civic Center || 6:30 p.m.
July 4: UMVRDC Office closed for Independence Day Holiday
July 26: UMVRDC Annual Meeting & Tour
Details coming soon!
August 23: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Location TBD || 6:30 p.m.
September 5: UMVRDC Office closed for Labor Day Holiday
September 27: UMVRDC Monthly Meeting
Location TBD || 6:30 p.m.