Archives for April 2017

Long-Time CEDA Project, JEM Movie Theatre, Welcomes New Ownership

Article by: Chris Giesen

In February, ownership of Harmony’s JEM Movie Theatre changed hands.  Amber and Dana Coaty, along with their four children are now the proud owners of this Main Street Harmony attraction.  One of the only single-screen family-owned movie theaters in the country, the Coaty’s purchased the business from Michelle Haugerud who operated the theater for 14 years with the help of her family.

The future wasn’t always as exciting for the JEM; in 2011, Hollywood’s switch to digital projection almost closed the only theater in Fillmore County for good.  When the industry announced that it would be only distributing new films in a digital hard drive format in the near future, it left the Haugeruds in a difficult position.  A digital projector would cost upwards of $70,000 to $100,000 and at ticket prices of only a few dollars for adults and one screen, a new digital project wasn’t feasible for the JEM.

CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen, who serves the City of Harmony worked with the Haugeruds to explore several avenues of low-interest loans and grant programs, but nothing would work for this unique situation.  After several dead ends with traditional programs, Giesen called Cris Gastner, CEDA Senior Vice President, who had worked with Harmony for several years prior to Giesen, to brainstorm.  In the meantime, several local efforts to fundraise for the projector began, including dedicating that year’s 4th of July celebration to the theater effort.  Together, Giesen and Gastner started to connect the dots.  “Several buckets of money began to appear locally but none of them on their own would make the project work”  Giesen said.  “We had an offer for a very large donation and no-interest loan from the local community organization the Trust for a Better Harmony, but the group hadn’t been active.  Because the Trust wasn’t active, we needed to find an organization to be a conduit for the money.  We felt CEDA would be a perfect fit.”

“This was a perfect example of how CEDA is willing to get creative, where others can’t, to get projects done” said CEDA Senior Vice President Cris Gastner.

CEDA took on the role of fiscal agent, which was a 10-year commitment, for the grant and loan from the Trust for a Better Harmony.  Ultimately, the JEM found a slightly used digital projector that cost less than one which was brand new and the community donated enough to cover the additional costs and repay the Trust’s loan in full within the first year.  CEDA was happy to process the transfer paperwork to make the sale in 2017 to the Coaty’s a seamless transition.  The CEDA team and Board of Directors wish all the best to the Coaty’s as they start their business adventure!

CEDA Kicks Off Government Relations Program in 2017

Article by: Chris Giesen

As a part of its expanded marketing program, in 2017 CEDA initiated a more formal government relations program headed by CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen.  The goal of this new outreach program is not to “lobby” government officials on specific programs or to try to influence legislation but to educate our government leaders in a nonpartisan manner on economic and community development issues and their impact/potential impact on communities that CEDA serves.

“We want to develop better long-term relationships at all levels of government,” Giesen said.  “We want to raise awareness and increase the visibility of our CEDA communities, provide expert advice in the field of economic development to our government leaders, and be able to utilize the relationships we build to the benefit of our communities when a project, issue, or disaster needs additional government assistance.”  Giesen continued, “we have been meeting with legislators for several years to talk about economic development but we wanted to grow our effort.”

Every year, CEDA will meet with state legislators that represent all of CEDA’s communities in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.  Earlier this month, CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler and Giesen met with 9 of the 10 federal legislators that represent CEDA communities in their Washington, DC offices.  A highlight of this visit was our meeting with Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) where we discussed housing and workforce needs.  She agreed that we need to have flexible tools that will work in our rural communities.  A week later, at the Howard County Business and Tourism annual meeting in Cresco, Iowa, Senator Ernst was the featured speaker and in her speech, she thanked Zeigler and Giesen for visiting her to discuss those important issues and that she appreciates the work that we are doing.

CEDA looks forward to growing these relationships for our communities and will keep you posted on our meetings and conversations!

CEDA Awarded $60,000 from Otto Bremer Trust

Article by: Ron Zeigler

Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) recently authored and was approved for a grant in the amount of $60,000 from the Otto Bremer Trust (OBT)! This grant will assist our organization with the general operating support necessary to provide quality, affordable economic and community development services for rural communities in Southeastern Minnesota.

CEDA’s Mission truly aligns with the Trust’s commitment to building vibrant communities and moving those communities forward in noticeable and powerful ways. 

“The receipt of this grant was exciting news for CEDA!  The confidence the Otto Bremer Trustees have in us is greatly appreciated” states CEDA CEO/President Ron Zeigler.  “CEDA constantly works toward the betterment of the rural areas of Southeastern Minnesota.  These dollars will allow us to continue and expand the great work that our team is providing for the sustainability of the region.”

People’s Energy Cooperative Helps Sponsor Minnesota Design Team Visit to Eyota, MN

Article by: Courtney Bergey

In spring 2016, the Minnesota Design Team visited Eyota to provide innovative ideas for future community and economic development. The visit, which was organized by CEDA team member Cathy Enerson, was sponsored in part by People’s Energy Cooperative with a $1,800 economic development grant in partnership with Dairyland Power.

It has been a year since the Design Team visit, and there is still positive momentum surrounding it; several ideas highlighted during the visit have been brought to fruition, including a Retail Gap Analysis and an outdoor film series. People’s Energy Cooperative continues to support these community initiatives and recently awarded a $1,000 Operation Round Up grant to the City of Eyota for their film series.

In 2016, over $100,000 in grants were made to nonprofit organizations and schools through Operation Round Up, a remarkable program made possible by PEC members “rounding up” to the nearest dollar on their monthly energy bills. In addition to grants, PEC also has grants available for economic development projects and a revolving loan fund to support new or expanding businesses in its service territory.

Nonprofits, municipalities, and businesses in PEC’s service territory are invited to contact CEDA team member Courtney Bergey to learn more.

Stewartville, MN Fire Department Receives $55,000 Otto Bremer Trust Grant for Stand-By Generator

CEDA team member Joya Stetson, who serves the City of Stewartville, MN, worked closely with City Finance Director Barb Neubauer and Fire Chief Vance Swisher in successfully authoring a $55,000 Otto Bremer Trust grant for the purchase a new 100kW 120/208V, 3 phase 600 amp service stand-by generator.

This generator will have the capacity to power the entire fire station in addition to the response services that are especially necessary during inclement weather and power outages. Because of the new generator, the City’s fire station will be able to effectively operate as an emergency center for the entire area served by the Department.  This service area consists of the City of Stewartville, the City of Racine and the townships of High Forest, Racine, Sumner, Rock Dell and Pleasant Grove.  In total, the Department serves nearly 10,000 residents.

“We are so grateful for the grant from the Otto Bremer Trust!” Swisher said, “Without the funding, this important project would not have been able to go forward in 2017.” The project, which is estimated to cost over $60,000, will provide a growing number of residents and businesses reassurance during power outages and crises.

The City’s Fire Department anticipates that the generator will be installed and operational in spring of 2017.