Archives for August 2018

CEDA Hosts Another Successful Regional Development Tour

Article by: Cris Gastner
On Thursday, August 2, CEDA hosted its 3rd annual Regional Development Tour (RDT) in partnership with Journey to Growth (J2G).
Each year, the RDT brings together a cross section of development stakeholders from around the region for an informational tour of a number of CEDA communities. This year’s tour stops included Minnesota communities of Elgin, Kasson and Hayfield with a pass through stop in Eyota. Over 50 participants packed the bus for this year’s tour!
On the tour, CEDA staff members and community representatives provided informational presentations on each of the communities. In addition, a boxed lunch was served by Tracie Schaber Catering in St. Charles along with beverages provided by Journey to Growth. New to the tour this year was a photo contest that gave participants the opportunity to win an exciting gift basket of items produced in CEDA communities for the best photo taken during the event and posted with the hashtag “#RDT2018.”
“We feel the RDT continues to be a great opportunity to provide first-hand information about our communities in a fun environment that promotes networking and relationship building.” Said CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler “When you combine learning and fun into an event like this, it makes it both memorable and effective.”

Coffee and Community: Frazee, MN EDA hosts Business Community Event

Article by: Reva Mische

Through their work with CEDA, the Frazee, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA) has had great success in connecting with their business community through Social Media that they wanted to take it one step further with the launch of Business Community Events. The EDA hosted a Coffee and Community event held on July 10th at The Palace Café in Frazee. This was a casual event, welcoming business members as they shared ideas for supporting and strengthening the business community. Topics for discussion ranged from providing a welcoming environment for new and existing businesses to visualizing ideas for the vacant lot downtown. Attendees included area business members, community organization leaders, City and EDA representatives, and the director of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce. The power of collaborating was evident at this meeting, as attendees brainstormed, shared thoughts and concerns, and generated energy around area business and community initiatives.  One of these initiatives is a quarterly After Hours event, titled Community Unwind After 5. The idea for this event was inspired by discussions about how to continue fostering connections and collaborations among business community members. The kick-off event will be held on August 23rd, from 5-7PM, at the Harvest Fellowship Church and will feature a meet and greet with the new owners of the Frazee-Vergas Forum.


City of Lewiston, MN Hosts Land Owners Forum along with Completion of Housing Study

Article by: Rebecca Charles

The City of Lewiston, MN has been working with Widseth Smith & Nolting of Rochester on a Comprehensive Housing Study for the City.  The final study was delivered to Lewiston on May 31st, 2018.

CEDA team member Rebecca Charles worked with the Economic Development Authority (EDA)to host a Land Owner Forum in Lewiston on June 18th, 2018.  Landowners with property directly abutting current City boundaries were invited to attend the meeting to hear the results of the Comprehensive Housing Study, and discuss how the City and its landowners could work together to solve the housing crisis that the City is currently facing.  

“There was a lot of really interesting conversation that came out of this forum” Said Ms. Charles.  “We received some great leads for exciting new projects that we will be exploring closely.”

Ms. Charles and the City’s EDA applied for and were awarded a $2,500 grant from Compeer Financial that made the study possible.

Harmony Receives ~$1.75 Million to Extend Bike Trail

Article by: Chris Giesen

On May 30th, 2018 Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a $1.5-billion-dollar public improvement bill which included two different provisions to extend the Harmony-Preston Valley trail about 6 miles from Harmony to Niagara Cave and the Iowa border.  This new trail segment, dubbed the Harmony Stateline Trail, received $1.5 million in traditional state “bonding” dollars and $235,000 from the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) in the bill signed by Governor Dayton.

“$1.5 million will go to the DNR for general project expenses and the LCCMR money will come directly to the City of Harmony for land acquisition.” explained CEDA Vice President and Harmony EDA Coordinator Chris Giesen.  Giesen also authored and was awarded a grant from the Harmony Area Community Foundation of $15,000 to help as a match for the LCCMR funding. The City contributed $25,000 as well to fund the purchase of option contracts and some land to secure the trail corridor. The project will total $1.75 million for completion.

Volunteers serving on the City’s trail committee had been working on securing a route for this trail segment since 1989.   In 2014, the committee finally received the last landowner handshake agreement.  The EDA then funded the purchase of option contracts to hold the City’s right to buy the land needed for the route for a period of 4 years.  Giesen and City officials worked with the legislature and Governor to change the law to designate this route as a state trail.

Giesen assisted the City in applying for the LCCMR grant to fund property acquisition.  The LCCMR grant on its own would have allowed the City to at least secure and preserve the trail corridor in the event the main funding package from the state didn’t come through before the option contracts expired.

Giesen and the trail committee are already working with the DNR to move forward with planning and construction, although no firm timelines are in place yet.  When the trail is complete, it will serve as the connection between the Root River/Blufflands trail system in southeast Minnesota with the Northeast Iowa trail system creating a 115-mile network serving multiple cities.  CEDA team members Jason Passmore and Spiff Slifka who serve Howard County Business and Tourism are also working with the Harmony team while leading the effort to connect the Iowa portion of the network to Minnesota. The trail will also connect to Niagara Cave, Fillmore County’s busiest tourist attraction and the #2 cave in the nation as ranked by USA Today.

“We appreciate all of the support we got for this great project locally and across the region and state.” Giesen explained “It’s really because of the willingness of the land owners to help and the dedication of the volunteers throughout the years that we were in position to apply for funding to complete this exciting project.”

CEDA Communities Utilize Conceptual Renderings to Help with Business Attraction

Conceptual renderings are realistic simulations that can help demonstrate ideas or concepts. These renderings can aid communities in their advertisement and communication of development opportunities.  While the drawings are typically not business specific, the visual representation of the opportunity can be more impactful to some developers when evaluating how their structure might suit a business park or individual lot.  In addition, the renderings often display existing and planned infrastructure and neighboring businesses which are valuable considerations for developers and companies.

Some CEDA communities are utilizing this tool to strategically attract businesses.  The City of Stewartville, MN’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) recently worked with architecture and engineering firm Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) to produce conceptual renderings that would depict a strip mall including a drive through entity in the City’s Schumann Business Park highway adjacent lots. CEDA team member Joya Stetson and City Finance Director Barb Neubauer met with WSN staff to discuss potential options for the business park’s future as it relates to amenities, features and priorities. Ultimately, the final design layout was based upon lot structures, traffic counts and community feedback. The EDA plans to share the drawings with potential businesses and developers to incite interest and showcase advantageous commercial development opportunities in the Park.

Kasson, MN also worked with WSN in the production of conceptual renderings that highlight the Kasson Commercial Park.  CEDA team member Rebecca Charles aided Kasson in formulating the image for the future of the Park. These drawings are a useful tool that the City expects to distribute and promote as a part of their business development efforts.

View the Stewartville Renderings HERE.

View the Kasson Renderings HERE.  

Stewartville, MN Completes Analysis of Community Engagement Research

In the establishment of their CEDA produced 2018 work plan, the Stewartville, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA) prioritized community engagement efforts.

CEDA team member Joya Stetson who serves the City drafted and distributed an electronic community survey which received an impressive 373 responses.  This survey was supplemented with an engagement event with middle school students, a project with the high school senior economics class, and direct outreach to the Center for Active Adults, a local social activity organization for senior citizens.

The EDA also held a community-wide round table input session which was organized by CEDA team member Stephanie Lawson to accumulate even more data on citizen thoughts and aspirations for the future.

Stetson collected and evaluated all survey and focus group responses to generate a comprehensive report which will be utilized by the EDA to ensure that programs and projects are consistent with community priorities.

“This report offers a thorough analysis of resident and business opinions about the community” Stetson noted. “The statistically significant data illustrates marketable assets as well as areas for improvement; ultimately, the results will allow our EDA to continue to make the City of Stewartville an even better place to live, work and do business.”

The final report expresses constructive documentation including but not limited to:

– Quality of life ratings

– Reasons for residing in the community

– Evaluation of individual amenities

– Citizen priorities for development

– Satisfaction with public communication efforts

Stetson will report quarterly on progress related to the aggregated data in order to ensure and communicate progress.

You can view the final report HERE!

Register Here! – Southeast MN Economic Impact Study Draft Report Sessions


Chatfield Center for the Arts
405 Main Street South
Chatfield, MN 55923


Starting at 9 AM
August 15, 2018

RSVP by clicking here!


Chris Giesen
Vice President
Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA)
[email protected]

More Information:
Through a grant appropriation from DEED, in early 2018 SEMLM and CEDA engaged HR&A Advisors, Inc. to conduct a study to understand the economic growth facing cities and counties in Southeast Minnesota. The Southeast Minnesota Economic Study aims to provide communities in the eight-county region with long-range population, employment, and economic forecasts at the county- and region-wide scales. These forecasts will equip municipalities, counties, and the Region with quality data that can inform long-range planning, guiding important municipal and county decision making for things like investment in new infrastructure and public works, municipal services and schools, land use planning, and strategic downtown planning, in addition to regional considerations about transportation investment and housing growth. With a clearer understanding of the future population and economy of Southeast Minnesota, the Region can work to ensure that this growth is equitable and sustainable, serving all residents and workers.

On Wed., Aug. 15th, HR&A will present its draft report findings, providing an opportunity for city and county officials, administrators, economic development specialists, and regional policy groups to ask questions and provide feedback on the Study before the report is finalized and published. The morning session will be dedicated to an overview of the Study findings and implications. In the afternoon, HR&A and its team at REMI Policy Insight will offer a training focused on the economic development implications of this study and an overview of the REMI economic model. This study uses REMI Policy Insight to model baseline growth and to test the impacts of economic development scenarios in the Region. REMI’s dynamic modeling capability enables it to construct comprehensive forecasts of economic and demographic characteristics; it is an industry standard, frequently used as a simulation tool to help regional policymakers understand the long-term consequences of socioeconomic trends and policy decisions.

Economic Study: Preliminary Findings and Policy Recommendations
Chatfield Center for the Arts
Potter Auditorium

REMI Model Training: Economic Development Implications and Software Training
Chatfield Center for the Arts
Potter Auditorium