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.

Jackson Business Development Committee (JBDC) to Announce Business Challenge with Prize Package worth $20,000

Article by: Thomas Nelson

On Thursday, January 10th the Jackson Business Development Committee (JBDC) will begin accepting applications for its Jackson Business Challenge. CEDA team member Tom Nelson helped develop the program which aims to attract new businesses to the downtown Jackson by offering a prize package worth $20,000.

The Jackson Business Challenge was created to fill empty buildings in downtown Jackson and attract entrepreneurs to the community. The contest will consist of three rounds with the first round deadline being February 27, 2019. The rounds will consist of the following:

Round 1 – Business Concept

Round 2 – Detailed Business Plan

Round 3 – Oral presentation April

The prize package valued at $20,000 will consist of grants funds, rental assistance, free marketing, accountancy assistance, legal assistance, and more. The program will look at the viability of applicants’ business plans as well as how they will enhance downtown Jackson. Entrepreneurs as well as current business owners in and out of Jackson are encouraged to apply to the program.

“The winner of the competition will gain both monetary and professional assistance setting them up for success in the community” Nelson commented. “I am excited to draw attention to a great community that has a ton of potential.”

Complete details and applications available at: www.cityofjacksonmn.com/econmicdevelopment

Lake City EDA Completes Market Research on Community/Child Care Center

Article By: Kjellgren Alkire

Included in the monthly municipal utility bill, Lake City residents received an update on the market study research conducted by the Lake City EDA during the summer 2018. CEDA’s support for this work has been instrumental. Both Lisa Babington and Kjellgren Alkire worked to execute this demographically-representative project with Minneapolis firm ANA Marketing. Lake City has seriously discussed building a community center for many years, but has not yet taken action. These conversations have included building a YMCA or indoor swimming pool or rec center or child care facility. Like many communities throughout the midwest, Lake City families experience the effects of the child care shortage.

In order to quantify the many conversations regarding the hopes for a Community Center and Child Care facility, the EDA conducted a research project in the summer of 2018. The summary report from this survey and related research data are available at: https://lakecityeda.com/2018-community-child-care-center-survey
A total of 933 surveys were received and each of these surveys represent a single household. Accordingly, this survey conservatively represented approximately 2500 individuals are by these responses. Lake City’s current population is 5109 and the surrounding townships account for approximately another 1200 individuals.
“Due to the great response rate, I believe that this information will be useful in shaping future decisions,” said Megan Smith, Lake City’s Director of Planning & Community Development.
56% respondents support some sort of tax increase to pursue a community and/or child care center. Accordingly, the Lake City EDA continues to partner with the Red Wing YMCA and local groups to better understand the implications of this survey and the realistic possibilities for a potential development towards a community facility.

Spring Valley EDA Helps New Owners Purchase Greenhouse

Article by: Cathy Enerson

In the summer of 2018, Mitch and Carole Shultz started working with CEDA team member and Spring Valley EDA Director Cathy Enerson in hopes of purchasing the Spring Valley Greenhouse. As a small business counselor, Enerson was able to provide a great deal of assistance to the Shultz’s in preparation of their business plan and financial projections for the bank loan application process. “The Shultz’s were very responsive, considerate, and conservative in their approach to the process which helped keep things moving along steadily” said Enerson. Working through this information with Enerson had the Shultz’s “very well prepared” according to their banker Brendon Kacher of the Cresco Bank and Trust

In addition to the business counseling assistance, Enerson was also able to help the couple apply for $36,000 in gap financing from the Spring Valley EDA’s revolving loan program to complete the financing for the purchase.

CEDA provides services in both Spring Valley, MN and Cresco, IA to which Mitch Shultz credits the awareness of the assistance that Enerson could provide them in this process. “I recommend anyone going to the bank to buy a business first contact their local economic development office for available assistance.” Shultz says

The sale closed on November 20th, and the community of Spring Valley is very excited about the future Rustic Rose Greenhouse and Floral.

CEDA Team Assists the Spring Grove Heritage House in Moving Forward

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson

A Spring Grove neighborhood will welcome a new home called the Spring Grove Heritage House next year, thanks to an innovative partnership between the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority (led by CEDA staff Courtney Bergey Swanson and Rebecca Charles), Spring Grove Schools, Habitat for Humanity, and local architectural designer Miranda Moen. As the first Norwegian settlement in Minnesota, Spring Grove’s rich heritage is the cornerstone of this project. “We want to honor the unique identity of the town while applying it to the modern challenge of affordable housing,” said Swanson. “We also hope that this opportunity deepens the sense of belonging for our students, who will leave a remarkable legacy—an actual home for a family in need—with this project.” Students in the high school’s Makerspace program have been working with Moen to design a modern Norwegian-style home; after the home design is complete, the students and community volunteers will work with Habitat for Humanity to build the home, which is set to be completed by fall 2019. Click here to read more about this project.

“We want to honor the unique identity of the town while applying it to the modern challenge of affordable housing,” said Swanson. “We also hope that this opportunity deepens the sense of belonging for our students, who will leave a remarkable legacy-an actual home for a family in need-with this project.” Students in the high school’s Makerspace program have been working with Moen to design a modern Norwegian-style home; after the home design is complete, the students and community volunteers will work with Habitat for Humanity to build the home, which is set to be completed by fall 2019. Click here to read more about this project.

A draft rendering of the Spring Grove Heritage House, which will be built in spring/summer 2019.

CEDA Staff Works With Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. to Finalize Purchase Agreement

Article by: Cris Gastner

Last Tuesday, the St. Charles, MN City Council unanimously approved a purchase agreement to sell a 6.83-acre lot in the Chattanooga Innovation Park along the north side of I-90 to Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. for $683,000.

“I am very excited about this project,” said St. Charles City Administrator Nick Koverman. “It is a $14 million-plus project for our community.”

The company plans to build a truck stop and travel convenience store at the site. The project will likely include at least one national fast food chain restaurant within the travel plaza as well.

CEDA Sr. Vice President Cris Gastner and Koverman have been working with the company for several months on the details of the project and the agreement. “When they first approached us, we definitely did our due diligence,” Gastner said. “We talked to several other communities about travel plaza projects and got favorable comments back.”

Gastner noted that the 45-50 full-time equivalent positions it will take to run the business would likely make it the city’s third-largest employer after the school district and the city itself.

The lot purchased by Love’s is on the south side of the business park closest to Minnesota Highway 74 and Interstate 90. Construction on the project is projected to start in the spring of 2019.

CEDA Team Member Drafts New Beautification Program for Stewartville, MN Main Street

The City of Stewartville, MN’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) recently approved a new program to help Main Street business owners with beautification of their visible property exteriors. This important program was drafted by CEDA team member Joya Stetson with key review and input from City Finance Director Barb Neubauer and EDA Board members.

The new Main Street Exterior Beautification Program was created in response to the EDA’s Community Survey and input session results where citizens identified a significant desire to enhance and improve the outward appearance of Stewartville’s Main Street. The Program will offer a dollar-for-dollar match up to $5,000 for eligible, visible projects such as:

  • Painting of building exterior including necessary scraping, repairing and preparation for completion.
  • Pressure cleaning of building exterior.
  • Siding
  • Installations of planters that will enhance the property.
  • Permanent landscaping and green space.
  • Awnings and canopies (including the installation of new awnings and removal of deteriorating awnings and canopies).
  • Brick tuckpointing.
  • Installation of brick or stone onto building façade.
  • Repair and Installation of cornices, corbels and decorative details.
  • Exterior lighting.

Another notable piece of the Program’s construction is its duration.  In order to catalyze projects to make a more immediate impact, the program will only accept applications from January 1, 2019- July 31, 2019 (or until funds are exhausted). All projects that are approved must be completed by no later than December 31, 2019.

“The EDA is looking forward to launching this new tool in January,” Stetson commented. “We are thankful for the community-wide feedback that has led to the Program’s development and we’re pleased to be able to offer assistance consistent with the objectives of our residents and businesses.”