Welcome New UMVRDC Board Chair and New Board Members
UMVRDC Board Chair
Congratulations Ben! Ben Bothun, who has represented Lac qui Parle County since January 2021 on the UMVRDC board, was elected Chair at the July 2021 annual meeting. Ben also sits on the UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund committee, as well as the Prairie Waters advisory board. Ben and his family reside in Dawson and he is employed with United Prairie Insurance in Madison.
We look forward to having Ben serve as the UMVRDC’s new board chair!
UMVRDC Board Member
John Cole is a Clerk with Fortier Township and is representing Yellow Medicine County Townships. John has been teaching 7-12 math at the Echo Charter School since 2017. He is the “owner/operator” of the 450-acre family farm located west of Canby.
John has a B.A. from Augustana College; B.S. from South Dakota State University; Masters from South Dakota State University and earned a PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and bleeds Husker Red. John is active with the Canby Masonic Lodge and Zurah Shrine.
UMVRDC Loan Advisory Board Member
Drew Dohman recently joined the Revolving Loan Fund board representing Big Stone County. He is a lending officer focusing on agricultural and commercial projects for CenBank in Ortonville, where he has been since 2019.
Drew grew up in Groton, South Dakota. He attended South Dakota State University where he obtained two bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural and Resource Economics and also Agricultural Business. He recently completed his Master’s degree from South Dakota State University. Drew and his wife Corinne live in Ortonville where she works as a dentist.
Appleton and Madison Receive Funds to Improve Broadband
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced $34,656,956 in grants to 15 Minnesota cities and counties across the state from the Small Cities Coronavirus Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG-CV).
As part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Minnesota received a special allocation to address community needs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Appleton received $3,699,000 for broadband improvement and commercial rehabilitation. The City of Madison received $2,560,000 for broadband improvement.
Appleton will install broadband infrastructure main fiber lines to residents and businesses. Current internet service providers from cable, satellite, and wireless are not able to meet the demand from the residents, business community, or key institutions like the school and healthcare facility. Grant funds will be used to support residents by offering increased connectivity for telework, telemedicine, telelearning, and tele visits 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 install broadband infrastructure main fiber lines to residential and non-residential properties within the city limits. Grant funds will be used to support residents by offering increased connectivity for telework, telemedicine, telelearning and, tele visits 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.
Area Businesses helped through the RLF
The UMVRDC Revolving Loan Fund (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 can provide funding for business startups or expansions in our five counties. Businesses must be working with their financial institution and looking at financing real estate, equipment or working capital. The UMVRDC can be a funding partner with a financial institution 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 had five loans approved with one of those loans closing by fiscal year end 2021. The UMVRDC has processed a total of twelve new loans totaling more than $1,180,172 through the CARES Act RLF Fund. The additional four loans will be closed in fiscal year 2022, which will exhaust the $1.72 million CARES Act funding the UMVRDC received.
An additional Revolving Loan Fund loan was closed in May for $200,000. A loan to Custom Roto-Mold in Benson was completed for a business expansion project in conjunction with the City of Benson EDA, Bremer Bank in Willmar, and the SBA.
Total CARES Act RLF Loans
- Sunshine & Whiskey
- Lein Lumber
- Granite Falls Woodworks
- Madsen Family Chiropractic, PLLC
- Williams Family Companies, LLC-Squeaky Clean Car Wash
- Evenson Properties, LLC -Ambient Chiropractic
- Hanson & Dahl Funeral Home Inc d/b/a Anderson-TeBeest Funeral Home of Granite Falls
- The Montevideo Design Group, LLC
- JAT HOLDINGS, LLC
- Wager Chiropractic, P.L.L.C.
- Fernholz Concrete, LLC
Work Continues on Memorial Park
On behalf of the City of Granite Falls, the UMVRDC has submitted two grant funding requests. One to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) for restoration to the Historic Park Entrance Piers and construction of a trail around the wetland, and the other to the DNR Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) grant. The CPL grant will be used to support ongoing invasive species removal in the park, specifically on the south and west sides of the wetland. If the grants are successful, this area will become an important park access corridor, and will provide another opportunity to experience Memorial Park’s unique ecosystem.
Memorial Park was designated a regional park in 2016 by the GMRPTC. The city is just completing Phase II of implementing their master plan which includes invasive species removal, signage, trail improvements, a nature-based playground, and renovation of the RV campground. This phase was funded in the spring of 2018 for a total of $732,261 from the GMRPTC. Phase III funds from the GMRPTC was $150,000 to complete additional rehabilitation on the main Park Shelter.
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 funding requests, environmental review, and the master planning process. With these proposed improvements, the City of Granite Falls is responding to strong public support for developing this currently underutilized portion of the park.
UMVRDC Helped Host Regional Broadband Conference
Gaining access to broadband internet services is still one of the most prominent problems that the communities in our region face. The internet is not something that is used primarily as recreation. Communities need the internet to work, to purchase goods and services, to operate businesses, in schools, and even for healthcare (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic). That is why it is crucial to have discussions about where our region stands with broadband today and how we can move forward to get coverage for all.
The UMVRDC worked with partners to host the Southwest Minnesota Broadband Forum. These partners included the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, the Southwest Regional Development Commission, the Southwest Initiative Foundation, and the Blandin Foundation. The forum took place on September 16th. It was an hour and a half forum that took place both virtually and in person at locations in Appleton, Willmar, and Slayton. The forum had 60 participants that came to learn about what areas experience broadband service gaps, finance tools that local governments have to support broadband infrastructure, and what state and federal grant programs are accessible for communities.
The forum was made up of several speakers. Jay Trusty, the executive director of the Southwest Regional Development Commission spoke about a broadband internet speed test throughout Minnesota in 2020-2021 by the Minnesota Rural Broadband Coalition. 59,455 total tests were conducted, and it showed that southwest Minnesota was not matching high enough speeds for quality broadband. Next to speak was Todd Hagen with Ehlers Public Finance Advisors. Todd discussed some of the ways local government units can fund broadband projects. Other speakers such as Bree Maki, who serves as the director of Senior Southern Minnesota Outreach and State Broadband, Telecom, and Child Care for the Office of US Senator Tina Smith, spoke about the funding sources that were available from state and federal programs that can be utilized to improve broadband across the country. There was also a panel made up of regional representatives, including the CEO of Madison Healthcare Services, Erik Bjerke, the superintendent of the Windom Area School District, Wayne Wormstadt, and Ryan Lange of Lange Ag systems. They discussed how they utilize broadband in their industries and why increasing it in the region needs to be a top priority. The final speakers of the forum were Benya Kraus, Co-Founder of Lead for America and the Executive Director of Lead for Minnesota, and Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement of the Blandin Foundation. They led an interactive discussion with the guests of the forum about what barriers they face when trying to increase broadband in their communities.Conference Recording
2021 UMVRDC Annual Meeting Held in Montevideo
The UMVRDC’s annual tour and meeting took place in Montevideo this past July. Staff, board members, and citizens toured, visited, and learned about projects that the UMVRDC has worked on in the Montevideo community. We visited the Stained Glass Tractor and the Rail Car public art projects. We toured and heard from owners at the Montevideo Design Group and Outlaw Graphix, both RLF businesses. The rest of the day took place at the CCM Health Wellness Center. CCM Health employees spoke about their new wellness center, child care center, employee retention, and more. UMVRDC staff presented on projects such as developable properties, CARES Admin, Employer Toolkits, and more. The Montevideo Mayor and City Manager also gave updates on various projects happening in Montevideo. The day concluded with supper catered by Trish’s Katering, an RLF borrower, and the annual UMVRDC business meeting.
Meander Art Crawl Happening this Weekend
Are you ready to Meander? The Meander Art Crawl is taking place this weekend, October 1, 2, & 3! After moving to an online platform last year, due to the pandemic, we are excited to return to the regular, in-person art crawl for 2021. Meander through the beautiful fall colors of the Upper Minnesota River Valley while visiting 35 studios featuring 41 local artists! Find a brochure, artist pages, maps, and more on the Meander website.Meander Website
Save the Date for the Prairie Waters Annual Event
Every year, Western Minnesota Prairie Waters puts on a fun-filled family event open to the public. This event rotates locations throughout member communities. This year, the Prairie Waters Annual Event will take place in Dawson at Veteran’s Park on October 13th from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. There will be free food catered by Hilltop, live music, a bonfire and s’mores, kids activities, and more!