UMVRDC Welcomes New Staff
Lori Tostenson, Loan Officer
As the loan officer at the UMVRDC, I am very excited to work within the region that I have lived in for over 30 years with my husband, Perry and Springer Spaniel, Charlie. I am a North Dakota native that grew up on a farm in a rural community. I attended North Dakota State University (Bison gal that bleeds green and yellow) and graduated from Moorhead State University with a degree in Finance. I have had 40 years of various financial experience with the last 15 years spent working as a Credit Analyst concentrating in the commercial area. My main area of focus with the UMVRDC will be to manage the Revolving Loan Fund. With our country facing this pandemic, now more than ever, the need is there to support our small businesses. I hope to assist our communities through these trying times through my work at the UMVRDC. Over the years, I have been involved in many civic organizations and continue to help through volunteerism. I love most sports, with football being my favorite. I occasionally enjoy golfing, fishing, doing craft projects and taking ATV trips.
Jack Gottfried, EDA Planner
As of February 2021, I am the new EDA Planner for the UMVRDC! I am originally from Marietta, Ohio (pop. 13,500). I graduated in the Fall of 2019 from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in City and Regional Planning. I have had the chance to work in the public sector in the Office of Community Development at the Ohio Development Services Agency for two years. I have also been a part of some great projects such as rewriting the zoning code for Plain City, Ohio and developing an “Aging in Place” comprehensive plan for Franklin County, Ohio. I am now living in Montevideo, and I am so thrilled to be here in this beautiful region and begin work with our communities! In my free time, I enjoy exercising, reading, camping, cooking, hiking, fishing, going to concerts (pre-COVID), exploring new places, and spending time with family and friends.
UMVRDC Welcomes New Board Members
We are happy to introduce our newest board members to both the UMVRDC board, as well as the Loan Advisory Board. These individuals are just beginning this new role and we look forward to their insight and contribution to the UMVRDC.
New UMVRDC Board Members:
Bill Pauling is from Montevideo and represents Chippewa County. Bill is a retired grocer of 41 year and was recently elected as a County Commissioner for District 4. Bill is busy with the following organizations: Knights of Columbus, Chippewa County Library Board, Prairie Five, Montevideo Chamber & CVB, and the Airport Commission. Bill and his wife Connie have four grown children and nine grandchildren.
Ben Bothun lives in Dawson where he was born and raised. Ben is representing Lac qui Parle County as the newly elected County Commissioner. Ben is employed with United Prairie Insurance in Madison. He is involved with the UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund Board, LqP County Historical Society, Knights of Columbus, and Madison Kiwanis. He and his wife, Chelsie, have two sons and Ben enjoys coaching in all their sports. During his spare time, Ben enjoys fishing, hunting, and playing softball.
Aaron Koosmann is a Supervisor with Hegbert Township Board and is representing Swift County Townships. Aaron is employed by Fleet Tech in Correll and is the 4th generation to live on the family farm. He has a B.S. from South Dakota State University. He is active with the Zion Church and as a 4-H leader. Aaron if married with two children.
Erich Winter is the Mayor of Montevideo and is serving as the representative for Chippewa County Municipalities. Erich is the owner of the movie theatre in Montevideo.
Denise Hanson represents Yellow Medicine County Municipalities as a council member for the City of Canby. Denise is a driver for Prairie Five Rides and also provides private home health aide for individuals. In addition to the City Council, Denise also sits on the Canby MECCA board. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, binge watching shows on Netflix, and spending time with her family and friends. Denise is eager to learn more about the UMVRDC and its role in our region.
New Loan Advisory Board Members:
Candice Jaenisch is a County Commissioner representing Chippewa County District 2. She is a life-long resident of Chippewa County and lives near Maynard. Candice is a Certified Public Accountant and has served the community in this capacity for over 25 years. She is co-founder and chair of the MACCRAY 2180 Foundation, is the treasurer of the Maynard Legion Auxiliary, as well as the Trinity Lutheran Church of Havelock Township. Candice is a member of LWML and serves as the Superintendent of Trinity Lutheran Church Vacation Bible School and Sunday School Programs. Other boards she serves on include the Clara City EDA, Pioneerland Library System, Chippewa County HRA, and Hawk Creek Watershed Project.
Jeff Klages represents Big Stone County as the new County Commissioner. Jeff is life-long resident of Big Stone County and has worked in the construction field for 44 years. In addition to having his own construction company, Klages Construction, LLC, he has worked for and held various positions for Big Stone Lumber, Hasslen Construction, and Dallas I.
For nearly 20 years, Jeff and his wife Mary have participated in the 4-H lease program with their cattle and horses. They own and operate Klages Herefords. Jeff is active in the South Dakota Hereford Association, Minnesota Hereford Breeders Association, South Dakota Stock Growers Association and R-Calf. Jeff is the co-chair for Minnesota State Fair 4-H Breeding Beef Show and is also a member of the Minnesota Conservation, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.
Dean Solem recently joined the Revolving Loan Fund board. He is a Senior Vice President at Citizens Alliance Bank in Montevideo representing Chippewa County. Dean has been in the banking business since 2008 and has spent the majority of his time working with agriculture customers.
Dean resides on a farm that borders the Lac qui Parle County Park. He farms a few acres of corn and soybeans that keep him busy. Dean and his wife, Sadie, have two boys that are busy with sports and the arts. They also stay active with sheep and lambs that the boys show in 4H. Outside of work he enjoys being in the woods or on the water. His favorite past times are hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping.
UMVRDC Annual Survey Results
The UMVRDC conducted the annual survey in December 2020 to find out what the biggest issues and needs are for the region. From the 476 surveys sent out to elected officials and staff from the local units of government in our region, we received 121 responses.
The top ten most important issues that need attention include the following. Of this list, seven were also in the 10 ten last year, and childcare remained the #1 issue.
- Childcare Accessibility & Affordability
- Improving Broadband
- Marketing/Promoting our Community/Area to Attract New Residents, Visitors, and Workforce.
- Demolition of Dilapidated Housing & Commercial Properties
- Housing Rehabilitation
- Sewer, Sanitary Sewer, Storm Water, Drinking Water Infrastructure Planning or Funding
- Road/Bridge Planning or Funding
- Water Quality
- Redevelopment of Vacant Lots
- Senior Housing
We also asked about issues caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The answers reveled that community connectedness, loss of revenue for businesses, and financial strain on the local unit of government budget were the top issues.
UMVRDC staff are using this information as we put together workplans for the coming year.Full Summary of Results
Madison Economic Development Authority Marketing Project
The Madison Economic Development Authority (EDA) reached out to the UMVRDC for assistance in marketing their community with hopes of encouraging people to move back to the area. This will build on a “Bring it Home” campaign launched a few years back when the City of Madison hired a consultant to create two community marketing videos. The EDA is looking to expand those efforts and has asked the UMVRDC for help with three different projects: creating six resident stories, creating cost of living infographics, and creating a marketing plan.
2021 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference
Much like many events in the past year, the 2021 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference was held virtually. The conference took place at the beginning of March over the course of two half days. Staff joined in to listen to keynote speakers discuss topics that included diversity in America, content and storytelling in a reimagined future, destination optimization, creating engaging social media content, and more.
The conference also included data and resources for marketing Minnesota, especially as we start to reopen and welcome visitors back into our towns and attractions. One of the highlights of the conference was the unveiling of the Industry Success video which showcased how Minnesota towns and organizations came together to support one another during the COVID-19 pandemic. View the video below, which includes a highlight from the Prairie Waters Shop Local campaign launched last fall.MN Tourism Industry Success Video
Ecommerce Classes offered by the UMVRDC
The UMVRDC is hosting a series of virtual classes for businesses who are looking to start-up or boost their online presence. Staff have hosted and will continue to partner with different organizations to promote and instruct classes targeted for local businesses. So far, four classes have been offered.
The UMVRDC collaborated with the University of Minnesota Extension to offer two classes in February. The first class was instructed by Neil Linscheid, who explained the importance of web presence and how to kickstart your business online. The second class was instructed by Ryan Pesch who dove deeper into the online platform, Shopify.
The UMVRDC worked with Springboard for the Arts to offer two classes in March. Ecommerce Basics discussed how to use ecommerce and the different platforms available, as well as what to do when you need to place that order. Website Skills for Artists taught user-friendly website skills and how to run a website yourself. While the Springboard for the Arts classes are designed for artists, they are open to all businesses in our region.
This project is funded through the UMVRDC’s Economic Development Administration CARES Act grant. Stay tuned for additional information on more virtual classes offered in our region.
Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway Receives Grant
The Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway was the recipient of a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society Heritage Partnership Program for $64,000 to share services to develop three itineraries and explore additional opportunities to further develop local Heritage Tourism. The Byway’s fiscal agent is the City of Appleton and additional lead partners include: Lower Sioux Indian Community Tribal Historic Preservation Office (LSIC THPO), Chippewa County Historical Society, Blue Earth County Historical Society, Renville County Historical Society, and the Nicollet County Historical Society
The Byway went through a procurement process to hire the UMVRDC as the coordinator of this grant. Some of the deliverables include:
- Reviewing the existing itineraries relating to the Minnesota River Valley and identifying gaps in topics, content, target audience, and/or location.
- Develop three new itineraries that move people along the Minnesota River and experience its history. It will hire staff at the LSIC to develop and write Dakota content for at least one of the itineraries that will focus on contemporary Dakota culture.
- Identify additional opportunities that could promote these histories, serve the partnership, or strengthen local heritage tourism.
- Design and publication of identified projects.
A deeper goal is to continue to strengthen and develop the relationships between our partners and the Dakota tribes to build the trust and knowledge of each other that is a critical foundation for any future efforts.
UMVRDC to Assist with Appleton Capital Improvements Plan
The UMVRDC will be assisting the City of Appleton with a Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). Some of the benefits of a CIP include facilitating coordination between capital needs and the operating budgets, focusing attention on community objectives and fiscal capacity, keeping the public informed about future needs and projects, and coordinating the activities of neighboring and overlapping units of local government to reduce duplication.
The goals of the Appleton CIP will be to understand the current financial status and how it relates to capital projects, identify needs for city-owned properties and projects, and identify how to pay for these capital projects.
The UMVRDC will be working with City staff over the next few months to gather all information for a document that includes:
- Overview: establish goals, threshold, and framework of the CIP
- Inventory of the existing facilities
- Financial analysis of next 3-5 years
- Projects by department for the next 3-5 years
- Summarized priorities and work plan
UMVRDC Helps Administer County Business Relief Funding
After working with two local counties to administer federal COVID related funding to businesses, the UMVRDC continued to work with both Chippewa and Yellow Medicine Counties in administering their business relief grant program with funding from the State of Minnesota. 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 was able to distribute $250,000 in state funds to businesses. The UMVRDC is thankful for the opportunity to be behind the scenes helping support local businesses in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Revolving Loan Fund Helps Two 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 followed by a low fixed interest rate for the remainder of the term.
The RLF has an additional two approved loans waiting yet to be closed for the first quarter of 2021 and has an additional list of pending loan applications to be reviewed. The UMVRDC has already processed eight new loans totaling more than $708,000 through the CARES Act RLF. If you know of a new or expanding business in our region, have them contact Lori at email@example.com to talk about financing through the RLF.
New RLF Loans Include:
- Squeaky Clean Car Wash – Granite Falls
- Anderson – TeBeest Funeral Home – Granite Falls
UMVRDC Helps to Submit Two Small Cities Development Program Grant Applications
The UMVRDC assisted the communities of Benson and Dawson submit Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant applications to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The grant for the City of Dawson would provide funds to rehabilitate eighteen owner occupied homes and four commercial properties. The request is for $701,500 in SCDP grant funds.
The grant for the City of Benson would provide funds to twenty owner occupied homes and ten commercial properties that need rehabilitation. The request is for $1,035,000 in SCDP grant funds.
The cities should find out in June 2021 if they received the grant funding. Projects could start as early as October 2021.
Responding to the Child Care Crisis
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 our region. We have developed case studies on child care providers and based on conversations with other organizations working on the topic, we have developed a three-part plan of action.
We will use our resources at the UMVRDC to:
- Collect relevant information about child care and how it impacts communities in our region
- Connect with experts and providers in the child care field that have the knowledge on the topic
- Share the information gathered on our website and on social media
Please contact Chad@umvrdc.org for assistance with connecting to child care resources and experts in our region.
Granite Falls Recommended for Trail Funding
The Southwest MN Areawide Transportation Partnership has recommended the City of Granite Falls for Federal Transportation Alternatives Funding to complete a section of trail connecting neighborhoods without bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure on the north side of town to the existing trail system.
UMVRDC staff assisted the community with grant writing and development of a community-wide survey to gauge community interest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.