Stewartville, MN Assists Cabin Coffee and Announces Spring 2021 Opening

On Tuesday, October 20, the Stewartville Economic Development Authority (EDA) received a presentation from Robin & Kevin Splittstoesser, Leigh Dzubay and Hannah Lechner.  The four (4) Stewartville-native entrepreneurs officially announced that they would be opening a Cabin Coffee franchise at 310 Main Street North in downtown Stewartville. CEDA team member Joya Stetson, who serves the City of Stewartville, had worked with the group on researching/determining demand and aided the entrepreneurs through the application process to secure (1) a $15,000, 0% Interest Startup loan and (2) a Business Incubation Program grant award offering nearly $10,000 in rental assistance and education through the EDA.

“Our goal is to help continue to revitalize Main Street and provide an asset to the community,” said Dzubay.  “A Cabin Coffee location in Stewartville will create a gathering space which will foster connection, comfort, excitement and ultimately growth in the City.”

The project’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from the EDA who had been working with local residents, including Lechner, to understand the demand for a local coffee shop over the past couple of years. Not only had Stetson worked with the EDA to conduct surveys, but also she had met with Stewartville High School students, many of whom identified and presented on the need and market potential for a Cabin Coffee franchise in the community.

“Seeing the excitement from the students and residents in Stewartville truly invigorated our efforts to find the right franchisee,” said Brad Barber, Co-Owner and CEO of the Cabin Coffee Company. “We are thrilled to see this project move forward and are confident that this will be a positive and valuable addition to the Stewartville business community.”

Further articulating the demand for the project, Stetson had accessed CEDA’s proprietary data tool to have Tracy Lauritzen of Krakerjak produce a market demand report that Splittstoesser and her team were able to review, utilize and share.

“Kevin, Leigh, Hannah and I are looking forward to serving the City that we all were born and raised in,” said Robin Splittstoesser. “We are grateful for the support and assistance of the City, EDA, school, community residents and our families.”

Construction on the new Cabin Coffee Stewartville location has already begun.  The store anticipates an opening date in Spring 2021.

CEDA Processes CARES Act Small Business Relief Grant Applications for Jackson County, MN

Article by: Ron Zeigler

On October 20th, Jackson County awarded $948,345 to local businesses in the county through the Jackson County CARES Act Grant program. With support from Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), applications were reviewed and 59 local businesses were eligible to receive funding. The maximum grant award for eligible Jackson County small businesses was $20,000. The grant recipients included businesses from a wide variety of industry types and included restaurants, retail, personal care services, repair services, manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, childcare, entertainment, and nonprofit organizations. Businesses located in Lakefield, Jackson, Heron Lake, and Okabena were among the award recipients. The goal of this small business relief fund grant was to provide local businesses with federal CARES Act funds for emergency financial assistance needed due to the pandemic. These funds are meant to help businesses pay for critical business operating expenses and take measures to keep their employees and customers safe as they reopen.

Maddy Schwartz, CEDA Community and Development Specialist, shared, “It was encouraging to work with business owners and community leaders who are committed to seeing their cities recover and incredibly appreciative of this assistance. Many applicants I worked with were more concerned about other local businesses than their own. I think this speaks to the business community’s hard work and concern for others in their community.” Jackson County worked to prioritize this CARES Act funding for local businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. The County and CEDA hope that this will provide some relief to the business community amid the challenges that we face. We acknowledge the resilience that all Jackson County businesses have had while navigating challenges in the past year!

CEDA Works With Rushford Village, MN to Produce and Release Land Use Study Report

Article by: Rebecca Charles

The City of Rushford Village is proud to announce the completion of the 2020 Land Inventory/Use Report.  This project began as an effort to begin both long and short term strategic planning for the City.  The City conducted a survey of designated rural landowners within the city limits of Rushford Village to amass data from residents.  CEDA Team Member and City of Rushford Village Economic Development Director, Rebecca Charles conducted the survey and studied results. Not all residents within the City were surveyed as properties were identified through specific criteria.  Many properties that were not selected are located within FEMA flood zones or are positioned on bluff land and are not developable.

Data collected through this survey identified not only locations where development could occur, but also what types of amenities residents are interested in bringing to the community. Data collected through this survey will be used to determine the need/want for a range of amenities and potential development for the City.  This could include recreational trails, residential and commercial development opportunities, parks and other amenities.  “The possibilities are endless when we you invite residents to provide their input!” says Charles, “The City will be able to better prioritize projects that are favored by, and beneficial to a majority of residents.” The City has begun the planning process for 2021 and research will begin to identify steps for moving forward.  The report, authored by Charles, will be used to identify what the City needs to do now, to better prepare themselves for the future.

CEDA Assists the City of Eyota, MN in Securing a State of Minnesota DEED Grant Award of $434,727

Article by: Cathy Enerson

On September 18, 2020 Kevin McKinnon, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, extended his congratulations to the City of Eyota and their staff for developing an approach that will effectively address the City’s business and community development needs. McKinnon wrote, “all parties involved in the preparation of the city’s application can be proud of this award.”

The City of Eyota’s application for a Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Program Grant (BDPI) for the Eyota industrial Park – South was approved in the amount of $434,727. Under the authority of Minnesota Statute 116J.431, this award will provide the necessary resources for continued economic growth and enhance employment in the community and surrounding area

Cathy Enerson, CEDA team member serving as Eyota Economic Development staff is working toward opening up 108 acres of Industrial land along Highway 42 in the City of Eyota. The project will require $1.7 million dollars of public infrastructure for both the development of a project on 28 acres which is slated to begin in the Spring of 2021.  80 additional acres will become available to purchase, through a private party, for future industrial expansion. A City of Eyota tax increment financing (TIF) incentive will accompany the grant to aid the developer of the 28 acres. The industrial site is situated along Highway 42 and offers a valuable rail spur.

CEDA Champions the Use of Data to Improve Minnesota Lives and Communities

Article by: Cathy Enerson

CEDA Team Member Cathy Enerson, who serves the Minnesota communities of Eyota, Preston and Lanesboro, has been selected as one of the 2020 Minnesota Compass Champions.

Minnesota Compass, a social indicators project led by Wilder Research, measures progress, and provides data and trends about Minnesota and its communities. Compass developed regional “champions” across the state to help individuals and organizations access and use the data and resources it provides to guide programs, planning, and policies that will benefit residents and communities.

Enerson will be sharing housing, economic, and employment data tools with local communities to support economic development in southern Minnesota. “I am looking forward to presenting MN Compass to local businesses and organizations,” said Enerson. “Data-informed decision making is a key to understanding how to support and grow our communities.”

CEDA Launches Community Grants Database to optimize grant research and planning for CEDA communities

Article by: Abby Wright

The CEDA Grant Department recently released the Community Grants Database (CGD), a live, proprietary database that provides each CEDA representative an annual list of anticipated grant deadlines, as well as the most pertinent grant research at-a-glance in one spot, customized to the county or counties that each CEDA individual serves through his or her Community Support contract. Three additional spreadsheets contain data for grants for which all Minnesota contracts are eligible (MN Statewide), all Iowa contracts are eligible (IA Statewide), and all CEDA communities are eligible (Federal or other).

Two components within each CGD Google Sheet are: 1.) the Calendar of Deadlines, a simple, chronological list of grant deadlines with titled hyperlinks to each grant program webpage; and 2.) the Prospects in Detail tab, a spreadsheet of detailed information organized alphabetically by funder and then alphabetically by grant program, also with corresponding links. The Prospects in Detail tab contains specific research and references, such as each program’s funding priorities, the award amount, and the application history or other notes—including, when possible, a path to webinar/training notes pertaining to a given grant program or other helpful resources in CEDA’s shared Document Library.

“Probably the best way to get the most out of the CGD,” said Abby Wright, CEDA Community Grant Specialist and creator of the CGD, “is to use the Calendar of Deadlines as a guide to see what’s coming up and then to use the Prospects in Detail to gain further insight into a particular grant that catches your eye.” Wright designed the CGD to optimize grant research for CEDA communities by saving CEDA staff the clicks and time it takes to find and navigate through each foundation website, as well as organize and compare results. She plans to collaborate with colleagues to keep the records as complete, relevant, and updated as possible.


CEDA Team Member Creates Podcast to Educate Students About Workforce Opportunities

Article by: Emily Davis

COVID-19 created many challenges in life, including how to effectively educate students and expose them to different career opportunities while they were distance learning. CEDA’s Community Workforce Coordinator, Emily Davis, was tasked with creating a way to allow students to still explore careers while they were at home. That is when she created the Pick Your Path podcast.

The Pick Your Path podcast consists of short 10 to 12 minute episodes, each episode gives a glimpse into a different career and the education or experience needed for that position. The podcast allows students to learn about multiple different careers in a short amount of time, from any location that they want to access it from.

“I was trying to think of a way that students could still learn about different careers, while at home, and a podcast seemed to fit the bill,” Davis said, “I was excited that the episodes would be able to be utilized by all students during the summer as well as during the school year. I would love for this to be available to students for years to come!” She also said that she thought a podcast would be less intimidating when asking professionals to participate.

Davis publishes a podcast at least once a week, sometimes more.  She has published 6 so far and continues to schedule interviews across all career clusters. You can listen to the podcasts at the following link.

Hayfield EDA receives $10,000 SMIF Grant to facilitate city’s new Healthy Hayfield Supply Reimbursement Grant Program

Article by: Rebecca Charles

The Hayfield Economic Development Authority was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) for the purpose of administrating the Healthy Hayfield Supply Reimbursement Grant Program.  The primary objective of the program is to provide the resources necessary to make doing business in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic safe for all existing Hayfield area businesses. Existing businesses will include both non-profit and for-profit businesses and organizations.  Businesses meeting project guidelines will be reimbursed for approved purchases related to the pandemic. In addition to assisting applicants, funds are also requested to be spent locally.

After hearing first-hand about the struggles many of our local businesses are facing, CEDA team member serving the Hayfield contract, Rebecca Charles started to look for ways to help.  Charles created the Healthy Hayfield Supply Reimbursement Grant Program with the intention to provide funding for area businesses to offset the costs of required PPE, cleaning supplies and equipment.  “This is a different time for all of us, but we have to keep small businesses going even with the extra costs for PPE and other supplies” says Charles.  “This program has the potential to help a number of businesses with those extra costs”.  It is never easy to find funds for local programming, so a search began.  The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has many great programs and partners who are committed helping the smaller communities in Minnesota. Charles wrote a grant application for the organization’s Small Town Grant to fund the program.  In addition, she authored and submitted a second application on behalf of Lanesboro for their Stay Safe Resource Grant Program.  Both projects were awarded, receiving $10,000 each.

Funding for the Healthy Hayfield Reimbursement Grant Program will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, following a review of applications by the EDA board.  It is the hope for both of these programs that a majority of these funds can be spent locally.

Harmony, MN Receives CEDA-Authored Grant for Ambulance Equipment

Article by: Chris Giesen
The City of Harmony was recently awarded a $21,500 Community Facilities grant by USDA Rural Development to purchase a new motorized cot and lift for its new ambulance.
“This is a great program to help in rural communities; we’ve been able to utilize this program many times for various public works and emergency management equipment needs in Harmony” said Chris Giesen, the CEDA team member who authored the grant application for Harmony.
The program can be used for a variety of public uses, both for equipment and construction/renovation of public buildings and has both a grant and loan element available, depending on the project.  Among other criteria, the community’s demographics is a major factor in determining whether or not it is eligible for the grant portion of the program.
“The total project cost was about $39,000 so, that equates to a 55% grant on this particular project.  In the past, we’ve been awarded even higher grant percentages,” Giesen continued.  “The USDA staff is always very helpful with our applications.  I would recommend that every community look at this program to see if they qualify.”

Kasson EDA Assists in Co-Working Space Development

Article by: Nicholas Ouellette

The Kasson EDA, along with CEDA team member Nicholas Ouellette serving the Kasson EDA, is working with the owners of the historic Dodge County Independent Building to explore options to create a co-working space in the Main Street building. The building owners, Ed and Tina Butler, hope a co-working center can provide space where local entrepreneurs can grow their businesses, network and promote economic growth within the City.

The building, currently home to the Dodge County Independent, can readily be divided into smaller offices and has high-speed internet throughout the building implemented to serve the paper’s needs. The Kasson EDA is currently surveying the community to determine demand for and opportunities to utilize co-working space. A survey is available online and has been sent out to businesses registered to residential addresses, where local entrepreneurs might be starting their businesses or looking to move into office space. While managing the survey, Kasson EDA Staff are investigating co-working space models to find a plan that best fits the available space and the community’s needs.

Overall, the Butler’s goal is to provide a location for business innovation in Kasson where entrepreneurs can create a sense of community. To stay up to date with this project, check back on the City of Kasson’s Facebook page.