Archives for March 2019

CEDA Team Members Author New Housing Program in Northeast Iowa

Article by: Spiff Slifka

CEDA team members serving Howard County Business and Tourism in Cresco, IA recently authored a new program to promote access to well-maintained, safe and affordable housing. The Residential Home Removal Program allows cities, counties, and housing non-profit organizations within the Northeast Iowa Housing Trust Fund area to apply for grants up to $5,000 per home to assist with nuisance housing issues. The CEDA team members developed the program based upon feedback from local communities and recent housing studies.

Since 2010, the five-county partnership that makes up the Northeast Iowa Housing Trust Fund has contributed over $3.2M to improving the housing stock in that region and promoting regional cooperation in providing assistance for individual housing needs. With this new program in place, cities will have grant funds as they continue to find ways to remove nuisance homes and utilize these in-fill lots towards building new housing opportunities.

CEDA is Helping to Promote Outdoor Recreation in Fillmore County

Article by: Marty Walsh
CEDA team member Marty Walsh helped the Fillmore County EDA to host their annual Economic Development Summit at Eagle Bluff Leaning Center on March 29th. The event included seven speakers detailing the impacts of Outdoor Recreation on the tourism economy and quality of life in the county. Over 75 attendees from all corners of the county and beyond saw presentations from a wide variety of partners including the County Attorney presenting on the legal challenges of Outdoor Recreation, a local non-profit which built a private trail that brings regional tourists, the National Trout Center, Explore Minnesota, and Go Advntr (a start-up based in the region bringing a new customer engagement model to adventure based businesses).
The Event also was the launch of the new Comprehensive Recreation Map Web App which combines the recreational assets of the county with State, Local and Non-profit recreation assets in a  groundbreaking tool for planning and business development. The Map concept, which was proposed by Walsh, was developed over a year of partnership between the Fillmore County EDA and Saint Mary’s University GeoSpatial Services utilizing data from the Department of Natural Resources, County GIS Program, the National Trout Center, Local Cities and other organizations. It will be used as a promotional tool for local tourism businesses as well as a planning tool for tourism and residents alike seeking to access Fillmore Counties great outdoors. To check out the newly launched Recreation Map, CLICK HERE!

Congratulations to CEDA Director of Grants, Michelle Vrieze, As She Retires After 25 Years!

A Note From Our President/CEO, Ron Zeigler:

Oh behalf of the CEDA Board of Directors and team members, I want to extend a very deep, heartfelt thank you to Michelle Vrieze.  Michelle will be retiring from full-time CEDA work at the end of February.  Michelle will stay on with CEDA into the early Fall for one day per week to finish a project – that speaks volumes to who Michelle is.

Michelle started with CEDA on February 14, 1994.  In our profession, three years in a position seems to be the going average of tenure nowadays.  25 years is a rarity!  Over these years, Michelle has authored numerous grant applications which have resulted in many individual projects in many of the communities in Southeast Minnesota.  As an example, just over the past handful of years, Michelle has authored grant applications that have been approved that have provided for renovation/improvements for 77 commercial projects, 170 housing projects and two waste water treatment plants.  The impact that she has had on Rural America is phenomenal and we thank her for that.

Through these projects, Michelle has created a very impressive reputation across the state as an expert in the field.  The relationship that she has created with the DEED staff is very good.  We will miss this base of knowledge.

For the past six months, Michelle has been working with Allison Wagner to become the Small Cities Development Block Grant expert for CEDA and it is a definite help that Michelle will be with us in a limited capacity for a few more months.

We are so thankful for Michelle Vrieze for a job well done.  She has made a huge difference in so many lives in our Region!  We wish you the best in your well-deserved retirement!

To honor Michelle, we would like you to join us for a reception in her honor on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 1 to 4 p.m. at II Luigi Restaurant at 100 West Jessie Street, Rushford, Minnesota.

CEDA-Authored Articles Help Share Stories of Local Businesses in Stewartville, MN

In 2018, CEDA team member Joya Stetson conducted research on community opinions which she compiled into a comprehensive document that summarized the findings of a survey instrument and various focus groups in the City. While the Economic Development Authority (EDA) has begun several projects identified from the research, one project has become incredibly popular.

Some of the feedback from students at the Stewartville Middle School and Stewartville High School indicated that residents were very interested in knowing more about the local businesses that exist in their community. Not only were they excited to learn about some of the fascinating industries that are present in their home town, but they were also hoping to understand more about the businesses’ histories, owners, etc. Because the EDA already delivers a business appreciation award to a different business each month, Stetson decided that the award could be expanded upon to offer some of this valuable information. 

CEDA Community Grant Specialist Abby Wright, who has a background in journalism, has begun writing short pieces about the selected business appreciation award recipients each month.

“Abby meets with the businesses and ensures that the articles, while brief, offer a profound look at some the extraordinary people that make our community successful,” Stetson noted. “Even after working in the community for over four years, I have been enlightened and inspired by the information in these well-crafted stories!”  

The stories are published on the City’s social media outlets and in its monthly newsletter distribution.  They have received unprecedented engagement with hundreds of likes, comments and shares. 

You can check out Wright’s most recent articles on A+ Nails and Alterations, Steve’s Auto and Truck Repair and Root River Dental now!

CEDA Team Member is Helping to Attract Businesses to Blue Earth, MN with Billboards on I-90

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA representative Mary Kennedy has been working with Fairway Outdoor Advertising to bring a billboard marketing campaign proposal to the Blue Earth, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA). This marketing campaign is geared towards selling the two remaining lots in the City’s Golden Spike Business Park.

The Business Park is currently home to BENCO Electric Cooperative and Kibble Equipment, but Kennedy and the Blue Earth EDA are working hard to bring them a couple of new neighbors. The Golden Spike Business Park is located at the intersection of Interstate 90 and State Highway 169, meaning that it is a highly visible and well-traveled location, thus sparking the interest in billboard advertising to promote lot sales.

Kennedy’s proposal was approved at the Board’s February meeting, and the EDA is anxious to see the billboards standing on Interstate 90 THIS spring.

“Not only will these advertisements promote our business park, but they will bring about exposure to the entire community,” said Kennedy.

Frazee, MN promotes city & local businesses through community brochure

Article by: Reva Van Vleet

In 2018, the Frazee, MN EDA worked diligently to promote and support local businesses through events, business input surveys, and social media campaigns. As a continuation of these efforts, this year CEDA team member Reva Van Vleet proposed a project that would include collaboration with the Frazee-Vergas Forum to put together a brochure highlighting the Frazee community and local businesses. Van Vleet and the EDA leveraged social media, direct business outreach activities, and the partnership with the Frazee-Vergas Forum to reach out to interested businesses.

At $35 per business or organization, the Frazee community brochure is a cost-effective, collaborative way to promote the city and local businesses. Each business has a spot to feature a photo or logo, contact information, and a short description of their business. From a boutique to a grocery store, the brochure includes a wide range of Frazee’s community and business offerings. Included in the brochure is a map with each business plotted on the map to serve as another dynamic way to highlight the community. This 11 x 17 tri-fold brochure will also highlight community amenities and events and will be used as an area tourism map featured at local travel stops and online.