Archives for February 2019

CEDA Team Members Use Small Cities Development Program Grant to Inject $933,835.75 into Commercial and Rental Properties in Preston, MN

Article by: Cathy Enerson

CEDA Director of Grants, Michelle Vrieze, has wrapped up the Small Cities Development Program Block Grant (SCBG/SCDP) two year grant period in Preston, MN. Vrieze worked closely with CEDA team member Cathy Enerson who serves the Preston EDA.  Vrieze and Enerson helped the community to inject nearly a million dollars into the existing commercial and rental housing stock in eight blocks of Preston, a city with 1,350 residents. CEDA’s grant team reported that Preston closed out the SCBG/SCDP grant in December 2018; the grant funds were used to rehab fifteen (15) commercial projects using $288,000 in grant money, along with the use of EDA loan funds and private dollars. In addition to the fifteen (15) commercial buildings, thirty-three  (33) rental units were rehabbed using $252,000 in grant money, along with Greater MN Housing funds and private dollars. The total investment of all funds was $933,835.75.  

The Greater MN Housing loan funds played a significant role in improving a fourteen (14) unit apartment building that changed ownership due to the purchaser’s ability to qualify for grant funds for a significant rehabilitation project.  The Preston EDA will continue to administer its EDA companion loans.

Jon B. DeVries , AICP, who serves on the Preston EDA stated“As a citizen and new member of the EDA Board, I can attest to the significant impact the SCBG/SCDP Grant and Greater MN Housing funds have had on the eight downtown commercial blocks surrounding the courthouse square.  New businesses are in place, multiple existing buildings are under renovation, and the downtown is being animated by residents moving into renovated apartments.

De Vries, along with other EDA board members toured the rehabbed eight blocks a few months ago. The success of the grant/loans along with a 2018 housing needs update which was updated by Enerson and a University of Minnesota Morris student has encouraged the EDA to form a Preston Housing Committee.  The committee is using EDA, Preston Community Foundation, and SMIF grant funds to stimulate new housing construction by creating content for a livability website tab to promote Preston. The initiative hopes to attract developers and development to accommodate anticipated employment growth. Anticipated growth will come in part from the proposed Veterans home, the DMC ripple effect and the need to make up from the currently unfilled housing needs.

I  found an extra benefit of using the SCDP block grant program,” Enerson said. “Unlike the revolving loan funds, we could use this tool to improve the community’s non profit buildings. Buildings like Preston’s DAC  (a building that houses the County’s disabled workforce) and Preston’s Serviceman’s Club were eligible.”

New Year, New Owner, New Name–CEDA Helps Blooming Prairie, MN Business Continue to Flourish

Article by: Stephanie Lawson

A Touch of Charm, located on the Main Street of Blooming Prairie, MN, has been a main stay since 1988 when it was opened by Leanne Hanson and two others.  Throughout the years the shop has seen change, but one thing has remained constant, Leanne’s ownership.  After 30 years of operation Leanne decided that it was time to work towards retirement.

In the Spring of 2018 Leanne met Jackie Reiter-Vorlicek, who at the time was an assistant principal looking to relocate from the Twin Cities to the Blooming Prairie Area with her husband.  When introduced, Jackie, who had dreamed of the day that she would operate a shop of her own, immediately took to the idea of one day following in Leanne’s footsteps.

Through hard work, research and community support that one day has come!  Over the past several months Jackie has worked diligently with Leanne, her lenders, and CEDA team member Stephanie Lawson to make her dream become a reality.  Utilizing Lawson’s expertise enabled Jackie to create a business plan and determine what it would take to make her vision successful.

In addition to utilizing Lawson’s business assistance services, the two worked together on a proposal to access additional funding through Blooming Prairie’s Economic Development Authority.  Through their efforts Jackie was able to access the remaining $23,000 that she needed to close the deal.

“It is our job [as an EDA] to do all that we can to ensure that our Main Street businesses are successful.  Having the ability to keep a piece of our towns history in its place, just with a new name, is exciting for us and we can’t wait to watch Jackie grow and flourish!” said Lawson.

Prairie Home held its grand opening, and is ready for a successful 2019!


Stewartville, MN Produces New CEDA-Created, Custom Postcards

The Stewartville, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA) recently reviewed postcard designs that reflect the community’s natural beauty in its impressive regional parks and desirable residential neighborhoods. The postcards, which were designed by CEDA team member Joya Stetson, will allow community members and visitors to share their experience in the City with friends and loved ones.

“Our goal is to spread excitement about and awareness of the community,” said Stetson. “Stewartville is a beautiful City; we want to continue to provide new means of showcasing how great of a place this is to live, work, visit or do business!”

So far, Stetson has created three (3) versions of the postcard—each of which features not only stunning photos, but also the City’s social media handles.  All options will be presented at the City’s booth at the upcoming Rochester Area Builders’ Home Show on February 8-10. In addition, a limited number of the postcards will be available for local businesses who would like to have them on hand to give to customers.

The postcards’ creation was the result of CEDA’s best practice visits that are conducted regularly by staff.  They are completed with the intention of learning from successful communities that are engaging in effective and creative initiatives.  On one such visit to Chippewa Falls, WI, CEDA staff learned about how the dissemination of marketing materials like postcards can offer exposure and encourage local collaboration.

Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King is enthusiastic about the new marketing idea. “Our EDA hopes they will increase awareness, but equally as importantly, further promote the type of internal community love that is so crucial for successful growth and development!” King expressed, “It was encouraging to know that they’re already being requested at City Hall!”


Cold Spring, MN EDA Partners with High School Class and Local Business Owner to Open Pop-Up Shop

Article by: Reva Van Vleet

The Cold Spring, MN EDA partnered with the ROCORI High school’s entrepreneurship class, led by Dave Hinkemeyer, and local business owner, Lance Weber, to host a Pop-Up Shop in the vacant Weber Clothing Store. ROCORI High School’s Vice Principal, Nate Guetter, contacted CEDA team member, Reva Van Vleet, about a space for a Pop-Up Shop after the idea came about during Deb Brown’s visit to Cold Spring in September.  Brown’s visit was funded through a Hometown Turnaround grant that Van Vleet applied for and received on behalf of the City through the Initiative Foundation. The Pop-Up shop launched on December 8, 2018 during the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce’s Santa Days. The shop saw such great success that it stayed open for three Saturdays during December.

While the Pop-Up shop sold ROCORI logo wear and branded items, the entrepreneurship students were also able to sell their own handmade items. Through this partnership, Mr. Hinkemeyer’s students were able to gain hands-on experience of opening and running a business. The pop-up shop also brought light to the empty storefront, highlighting the space and giving patrons another shopping opportunity in downtown Cold Spring. Looking to the future, Van Vleet envisions more opportunities for pop-up shops and other creative uses in Cold Spring’s vacant buildings through a continued partnership with the ROCORI schools and area property owners.