Archives for March 2018

Houston County, MN Welcomes Smithsonian Youth Programming

Article by: Courtney Bergey

This year, students from Houston County will have the exciting opportunity to be part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program called Stories: YES Houston (Youth + Engagement + Skillbuilding)StoriesYES Houston is presented as part of the 2018 Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “The Way We Worked,” exploring how work became a central element in American culture, and tracing the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.

The selected youth applicants will develop skills in local and oral history research, interviewing, media production, exhibit design, narrative writing, public speaking, and more. By the end of the project, the participants will have produced a series of multimedia stories that will inspire local conversations on economic sustainability and regional identity.

Houston County CEDA representative Courtney Bergey assisted with the program planning and will be an active partner in the project, which received $10,000 in funding from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Small Town Grant program. Project coordinator is Erin Dorbin, a Houston, MN-based historian and multimedia producer.

For more information on the program, visit or check out this article

CEDA Administration of Small Cities Development Block Grants

Article by: Michelle Vrieze

Over the past 30+ years, CEDA has authored and administered Small Cities Development Block Grants (SCDBG) for numerous communities throughout Southeast Minnesota.   These grants are highly competitive and are funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development at the federal level and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) at the State level.   The grants can make a huge impact on rural communities.


Processing a SCBDG is a time consuming process that starts with a community inquiry to CEDA to discuss a need within the community and if a SCDBG is an appropriate investment into the need.  There is also commonly discussion about CEDA potentially authoring the grant and administering the process for the community.    Community needs could include:  owner occupied housing deficiencies, rental housing needs, commercial rehabilitation needs or public facility improvements.  Each activity has a maximum amount of $600,000 that can be applied for.   CEDA staff will work with the community to “map out” the target areas and distribute surveys to the occupants within this area to demonstrate if there is a federal objective and a need.


Once a need is determined, a Preliminary Proposal is submitted to DEED in November.  These competitive applications are reviewed by DEED.  If accepted by DEED staff and ruled competitive, CEDA and the community are invited to submit a full application due the following February.    In consultation with CEDA, a community can increase the competitiveness of the application and receiving a favorable response to the review.  One such way is to offer leverage funds to increase the overall total available funds.  These leveraged funds could be sourced from EDA revolving loan funds, utility board funding, Greater MN Housing or other sources.


Once a project is awarded, on behalf of the community, CEDA staff administers the grant through all of the intricacies each project brings forth including setting a scope of work, reviewing bids, awarding contracts, pre-construction meetings, assuring that all paperwork is in place, making sure that any project meets any state or federal requirements all the way through to project completion and final payment and securing lien waivers.


In the most recent round of review and awards, CEDA authored three grants totaling $1,525,798.  Over the previous five years, CEDA has authored and been awarded $3,776,554 in SCDBG.


If you have questions in regards to SCDBG, please contact:

Michelle Vrieze, Director of Grants, [email protected]

or Megan DeRouchey, Assistant Director of Grants, [email protected]