Claremont, MN EDA Works to Prepare for Highway 14 Expansion

Article by: Marty Walsh

The Claremont, MN EDA has been working with CEDA to prepare for potential growth spurred on by the completion of the final four lane section of US Highway 14 between Rochester and Owatonna, and Mankato beyond. The new highway will pass to the south of the City, instead of the current route to the north. CEDA Community and Business Development Specialists Marty Walsh and Rebecca Charles have been working to map out which areas would be prime for annexation and development. The project includes working with Claremont Township to prepare an Orderly Annexation Agreement to quickly react to future development potential outside the City that requires annexation, as well as conducting a Development Survey that gathers information from rural landowners about their willingness to sell and/or develop land for commercial, residential or industrial use. The survey information will be used to inform City decisions about infrastructure improvements and to connect landowners to potential development projects inquiring with the City. 


In addition to identifying where there is high development potential, the surveys will help to highlight areas with low development potential which will help limit over investment in attempting to annex an area or over development of infrastructure that will likely never meet capacity. Once surveys have been returned and the data analyzed, CEDA will generate Residential, Industrial, Commercial, and Industrial development Requests For Proposals that take into account the information in the surveys as well as the new highway and existing railroad service and distribute them for the City, spurring interest in the community and the location between two of the states fastest growing markets.

Micro Distillery Celebrates with Ribbon Cutting in Harmony, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Harmony Spirits micro-distillery celebrated their grand opening with a ribbon cutting event on July 4th! CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen has been working with the owners of the distillery for over four years, offering small business counseling and packaging several assistance programs to help them establish in Harmony. Additionally, the Harmony Economic Development Authority sold the lot to the distillery for $1, made a $25,000 loan for equipment, and gave a $10,000 forgivable loan to get the project off the ground. “This project is exciting for the community not only because of the micro distillery opening, but also because the EDA has worked since 2005 to redevelop the lot where the distillery built. 

The city received a redevelopment grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development DEED) in 2005 to demolish and redevelop blighted properties and build a public parking lot on a downtown block. It was a lot of work to find the right project to fit this important space,” Giesen explained. “This business complements the community very well. It supports local restaurants too, as the distillery does not offer a food menu, and it attracts even more tourists and visitors to the downtown.” Harmony Spirits uses locally sourced grain to make whiskey, rum, and vodka. Soon, their products will also be available in liquor stores and they will also be adding bourbon and gin to their lineup. Stop by Harmony Spirits Thursdays – Saturdays between 12-9 pm, or Sundays from 5-9 pm!

CEDA Staff Leads Itasca County, MN Communities through Brainstorming Sessions

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Over the past several months, Sarah Carling, CEDA team member serving Itasca County and Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has been facilitating brainstorming sessions in communities throughout Itasca County. The brainstorming sessions consist of interactive meetings / workshops held with city staff, community and business leaders, residents, and stakeholders to identify resources, assets, challenges, and ultimate goals for the community’s future.

Carling takes an interactive approach by first facilitating a SWOT analysis, helping the group identify the communities strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. From there, Carling leads the group through several conversations concerning both the economic and commercial aspects of the community, as well as residential and tourism. For example, Carling encourages the community members to consider how all populations are being engaged and best utilized in the community, including senior citizens and youth, and to identify blighted areas. The process Carling uses to gather information throughout the brainstorming session is to have the participants individually write their thoughts on post-it notes for each of the 5 exercises, and eventually post them on a large sheet to discuss as a group. After the brainstorming session is complete, Carling is able to compile a report that will document the shared ideas and potential projects. The report will also include a living breathing Excel document that allows the city to work and track the progress, assists with prioritization, and identifies possible resources available to make these projects more attainable. “Mapping out a wish list is important for every community,” explains Carling. “How each of the communities in Itasca County will use these reports will be different, but they will have the tools and possible resources to get their ball rolling in the best direction possible for their community. I am excited to see what will come for these communities in the future.”

CEDA Authors Successful Grant for Houston County Farming Initiative

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson and Allison Wagner

CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson with the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority and Allison Wagner with Houston County Economic Development Authority have been working with many partners on a farming initiative in the region called Driftless Grown. Houston County was recently awarded an $18,000 SMIF grant for the Driftless Grown initiative. Swanson authored the successful grant for the County. 

This new initiative helps farmers build skills as entrepreneurs and connect with resources to help strengthen their business. The project aims to support existing and budding farmers by connecting them with education, networks, resources, and new markets, as well as attract new entrepreneurs to the region through strategic branding and promotion. 

“We have an opportunity to support conventional farmers looking for alternative ways to make a living on their farm, while also supporting new farmers with the education, connection, mentor-ship, and resources needed to grow as entrepreneurs. This work will not only help address immediate issues for these businesses, but it will also lay the foundation for the identity of our region, making Houston County a destination for local foods and a welcoming place to start an agricultural business.” Wagner said. 

The initiative has the support of many partners and businesses who have generously given matching donations. Some of these include: U of M Extension, Workforce Development Inc., Land Stewardship Project, Merchant’s Bank, MiEnergy, and People’s Food Co-op.

CEDA Regional Development Tour Returns to Showcase Cresco, IA, Harmony, MN and Preston, MN

The 4th annual CEDA Regional Development Tour is being held on Thursday, August 15, 2019!
This collaborative event is led by CEDA and J2G (Journey to Growth).  The tour provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations who are interested in development to learn about multiple communities within the region. In one afternoon, participants will hear from economic development professionals, community leaders and decision makers in each of the featured communities: Cresco, IA  |  Harmony, MN  |  Preston, MN
Only a few priority seats remain for real estate agents/brokers, architecture/engineering firms, financial institutions, higher education institutions, construction/development firms, and businesses looking to build/expand in the region. 
Click HERE for more details and registration information!

CEDA Staff Author Successful BDPI Grant for Kenyon, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Chris Giesen

CEDA representatives Chris Giesen and Abby Wright together successfully authored a $672,096 Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant for the City of Kenyon, MN. The grant dollars will be used to develop a new business park by assisting with water, sewer, electric utilities, and street construction costs. Giesen expressed his enthusiasm for the BDPI program stating, “This is a great program for communities looking to build or grow their industrial parks if they are out of space or to assist with infrastructure when a manufacturer expands. The application is very user-friendly for qualifying projects.  It was great to work with the City of Kenyon and we are excited to see their project move forward.”


The BDPI program is made available through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and applications are accepted on a rolling basis, depending on the availability of program funding remaining.  The program requires a 50% match for BDPI-eligible capital costs and is specifically designed for use by cities in Greater Minnesota to stimulate new economic development, create new jobs, and the retention of existing jobs through public infrastructure investments.

Stewartville, MN Is Awarded $150,000 CEDA-Authored Minnesota Investment Fund Grant for Expansion of Local Manufacturer

Article by: Joya Stetson
CEDA team member Joya Stetson recently authored and was awarded a $150,000 Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for the City of Stewartville, MN.  This grant was authored for a proposed expansion project at GEOTEK, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of reinforced fiberglass pultrusion products headquartered in the City.  GEOTEK currently employs over 370 individuals in the community.
This important project will create 18 jobs over two years and retain numerous positions; these positions boast competitive wages and diverse opportunities in manufacturing, management and engineering. Furthermore, the project will substantially increase the tax base in the community through the construction of a ~65,000 square foot addition.
The project comes on the heels of a significant recent expansion investment made by GEOTEK last year.  In 2018, the Company purchased and renovated a 65,894 square foot vacant building in the City and created more than 100 jobs.  GEOTEK was also awarded CEDA-authored MIF and Job Creation Fund (JCF) grants totaling $350,000 through DEED for this previous project.

LeRoy, MN Increases Marketing Efforts with CEDA Assistance

Article by: Joya Stetson

The City of LeRoy, MN has recently been working with CEDA team members to expand their marketing efforts for the community.

CEDA team member Joya Stetson worked with colleague Sherry Hines, who serves the City of LeRoy, to create a comprehensive report on potential marketing projects/ideas that would broadly and creatively communicate the many assets in the City.

Stetson’s report noted an observed focus on recreation, a proactive school district, City-wide fiber, proximity to major cities and a supportive business community; the report concentrated on leveraging those strengths.

Stetson provided a number of detailed ideas that incorporated social media, participation in regional industry groups, communication with media outlets, testimonials, coworking space, recreation, collaboration with local businesses and more.

The report, which was intended to inspire staff and board members, sparked the creation of an EDA Marketing Committee who met with Stetson and Hines to go over each thought and begin a priority plan for implementation.

Only two (2) months after the Marketing Committee meeting, LeRoy has already begun working on five (5) of the suggested projects:

  1. The City/EDA has created and is managing a Facebook account with regular content.
  2. The City/EDA has joined the Rochester Area Builders’ association.
  3. The City/EDA has pushed out more press releases to garner media attention.
  4. The City/EDA has created/updated brochures on the community amenities.
  5. The City/EDA has launched a free bike rental program to encourage regional individuals and families to enjoy recreation in and near the community.

The projects above have been completed through the hard work and dedication of EDA boardmembers and City Clerk, Patty White, along with the assistance of CEDA team member Sherry Hines.

“The City of LeRoy has such an incredible energy” said Stetson. “The Committee members and staff have moved these projects and others forward with remarkable vigor; it’s impossible not to be inspired when you’re surrounded by such an innovative and ambitious group!”

The forward-thinking Marketing Committee has plans to complete more items from the report in the coming year.  For example, the Committee is looking into creating a City-scented soy candle from their local shop, A Gift to Gab.


CEDA Authored MN Twins Fields for Kids Grant is Awarded to Goodview, MN Economic Development Authority

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Donna Mack

Two parks in the City of Goodview will benefit with a grant from the Minnesota Twins Fields for Kids program. CEDA Team member Donna Mack authored and was awarded a matching grant from the MN Twins Community Fund. The $9,600 will benefit both the Memorial Park and the Goodview City Park with covers over the dugouts. Last Fall, while reviewing the community parks, Donna Mack noticed the dugouts did not have covers on them. After discussion with City Administrator Dan Matejka, the decision was made for Donna Mack to write a grant application to request funding from the MN Twins for financial support. The grant was awarded, and will cover 50% of the project cost for the four dugouts. The covers will be aluminum framing with colored canvas. Mesh shade material will be on three sides, with lettering on each dugout cover that reads GOODVIEW. When installed, the ball players in Goodview will enjoy the protection from the hot summer sun, wind, rain and foul balls.

“On behalf of the City of Goodview, we thank the MN Twins Fields for Kids program for improving our ball fields. The safety of our children impacts every person in our community. Reducing injury and future health issues make the dugout covers an effective preventative measure for local children, and visiting teams from surrounding cities and counties”, said Mack.

CEDA Staff Successfully Authors Grants for Farmers Market Funding

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Donna Mack

On Wednesday, June 19th the new Farmers Market in Goodhue, Minnesota held its opening day! CEDA representative Donna Mack played an influential part in the planning process, and worked to secure funding for the project. The community’s interest for a Farmers Market became apparent during Mack’s regular business outreach practices, and both Mack and city staff received requests for a market from community residents. After City Council’s approval to move ahead with the project, City staff, Donna Mack, and Selene O’Reilly, a local Master Gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension, began researching funding options and planning for the market itself. This process included discussing potential market operators, vendors, funding, location, etc. Through her research, Mack found potential funding options to pursue, and the team learned about a networking and learning opportunity; the two-day 2019 MN Farmers Market Association Conference in January 2019, which Mack was able to attend. At the conference, she was able to participate in 12 workshops in two days, with the purpose to receive training to establish a Farmers Market in Goodhue and to network with the Farmers Market Association, Minnesota Grown, and other established rural community market operators. For the conference expenses, Mack was awarded a grant from Live Well Goodhue County for $600 reimbursement of the trip. Mack authored a second grant to Live Well Goodhue County for start-up expenses for establishing a Farmers Market in the community, and was awarded $2,500. The third grant Mack authored was to Compeer Financial’s Farmers Market Grant Program, and the project was awarded $975.

In considering other ways to finance the project, The City of Goodhue started a fund with $700 to meet minor expenses before the grants were awarded. Also, the City paid membership to MN Farmers Market Association and Minnesota Grown, and the organization’s farmers market insurance, as well as the Farmers Market Operator’s wage. Additionally, Selene O’Reilly has volunteered 25 hours of her time already this summer towards her certificate with the U of MN, through Master Gardeners.

“Our Opening Day was successful with two vendors sold out, and another vendor only had 1 item left. The Goodhue Farmers Market can only become more successful when produce becomes ready to harvest. Our Farmers Market Operator and her market committee have been strong in marketing, organizational skills and work ethic. And we appreciate the funding from Live Well Goodhue County, Compeer Financial, and the City of Goodhue, With funding from these entities the Goodhue Farmers Market became a reality. I could not be more proud of this team and the community support,” said Mack about the project.

The Farmers Market is every Wednesday from 3pm to 7 pm through the end of September, except for July 3rd. In October, the market will be every Wednesday from 4pm to 7 pm. Located at the former train depot at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Broadway Street in the City of Goodhue.