CEDA-Led EDA Meet & Greet engages Mantorville, MN businesses

Article by: Abby Wright

On Oct. 1, Abby Wright, the CEDA representative serving the City of Mantorville, MN EDA, held an EDA Meet & Greet and Live Facebook Demonstration to bring awareness to the EDA as a community resource and give attendees a tool for their marketing efforts.

Wright, who started in Mantorville in January with a two-day-per-month contract, sought a way to introduce herself to many community business owners and organization members at once, while ensuring that the event would benefit them.

Wright says, “I had gone to some Chamber and Stagecoach Days Committee meetings and got the e-mails, and I had talked with the City and some people in the community who use social media to promote community events and their businesses. Several folks did not feel that they could learn the nuances of Facebook on their own, or they felt they couldn’t do certain things on it that they’d like to do. I grew up in the 90s with the emergence and evolution of social media, so I thought, ‘I got this.’”

Wright had co-administered a Federal Facebook page at a former job and currently co-administers the City of Mantorville Facebook page she established in March, which has 348 followers to date.

The Meet & Greet event started with Wright sharing general information on the EDA and with each Boardmember and attendee introducing himself or herself, with board members including how long they had been on the EDA, why they had joined, and what was their day job. Wright had prepared a two-part, Jeopardy-style game to follow, which included matching mission statements to attending organizations and answering Mantorville trivia questions.

“I think people really enjoyed that game,” Wright said, “They were laughing, and they were all shouting out answers at once and engaged, and we all had fun.” Five businesses and organizations were represented: Casey’s, Citizens State Bank of Mantorville, the Mantorville Art Guild, the Mantorville Chamber of Commerce, and Conti Designs currently based out of Rochester.

For the winning organization (no spoilers), Wright will author a press release all about the business on behalf of the EDA; the article will be posted on the City of Mantorville Facebook page in November.

A brief intermission while Wright hooked her computer to a projector allowed attendees to get seconds on refreshments purchased by the EDA, including Casey’s pizza, vegetables and dip from Erdman’s in Kasson, and beverages. Wright then live-demonstrated tips and tricks, step by step, for managing business Facebook pages, and answered questions as they came up.

“Facebook is a free way to interact with target audiences,” she adds, “and it is so common anymore for consumers to find businesses and information on that platform, so I think every business should have a Facebook account and know how to use it effectively.”

Many people who attended expressed that they were surprised they had learned so much and that they appreciated the information and how it was presented. In response to the positive feedback she received, Wright and the Mantorville EDA are considering hosting and presenting a sequence of similar events in the future.

CEDA Team Member Works On New Marketing Brochure Tool for the City of Medford, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy

A new brochure will be in Medford, MN’s tool box soon thanks to CEDA team member Donna Mack, Mayor Nelson, and EDA Board Members Bryan Duncan and Mary Cronin. TriM Graphics of Owatonna, MN is also assisting the group as they undergo the efforts to update the community brochure which was originally created in the 1990s. The brochure will answer frequently asked questions about the community and give people more information on how they can become involved in Medford. The brochure is directed to potential new business owners, new homeowners, visitors, volunteers, the general public and others. 

Mack organized the first meeting leading the group to the decision of the size, tips on designing, target audience, and project budget, as well as designing  the outline and text to assist the group in deciding how the brochure would be organized. As a group, the arrangement of topics were put in a logical sequence fitting it to the general layout of the brochure. 

Some of the ways the brochure will be distributed include attachments to proposals, being left behind when visiting clients, inserts in presentation folders, materials for prospective employers, and shared at meetings, fairs, conferences or seminars. Additionally, the brochure will be in hotels, restaurants, malls and other retail entities. The brochure planning group will make a list of particular places to distribute the brochures, and specific individuals and staff will be responsible for getting the brochures to the locations.

“I am fortunate to be involved with the Medford brochure project as it is a valuable tool for explaining who our community is. A common response when the community of Medford is mentioned in conversation is, ‘Medford is a city? I always thought it was only an outlet mall on the highway!’ The brochure should answer questions, educate our audience, and promote the community,” explains Mack.

This brochure will encourage people to come into the City by providing exceptional education and quality of life information. If you come to Medford you will likely be greeted warmly, neighbors will be happy to give you the scoop on the new school, or where the best grilling meat can be purchased, who the best mechanic is, or where to buy a moderate priced prom or mother of the bride/groom dress. 

Houston County EDA hosts design thinking workshop for DMC to generate tech solutions for persons with disabilities

Article by: Abby Wright and Allison Wagner

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Houston County Economic Development Authority (EDA) hosted a free workshop at the new La Crescent Area Event Center in La Crescent, MN. The design thinking workshop was third in a series of five-to-seven total that Destination Medical Center (DMC) will present this year throughout Southeast Minnesota.

Design thinking is a group process for creative problem-solving using an empathetic point of view, concept mapping, and experimentation. Thirty-five people attended the workshop on Tuesday evening, coordinated by CEDA Small Cities Development Program Specialist and Houston County EDA Director, Allison Wagner. Participants included Robotics students and educators from La Crescent, Caledonia, and Houston County; area entrepreneurs; and community members.

In the workshop, DMC Designers guided participants through a series of fast-paced, hands-on group exercises to foster and generate ideas for DMC’s Assistive Technology Challenge, a pitch competition to facilitate greater independence for individuals with challenges and disabilities. The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks inventive solutions to alleviate barriers to employment, reduce the need for and/or ease the demands of direct support on care providers, develop social skills that better cultivate meaningful relationships, and improve access to the community through public infrastructure. For more information on the Challenge, visit https://dmc.mn/introducing-the-assistive-tech-challenge/.

Wagner says, “The Houston County EDA hosts a variety of workshops throughout the year, which involves identifying the need and planning ahead, coordinating with the appropriate people, booking the venue, and marketing. This event was especially exciting and worth the preparation because it engaged adults and teenagers to come up with creative solutions for persons with disabilities, several of whom own and staff businesses in Houston County.”

Abby Wright, CEDA Community Grant Specialist and EDA Coordinator in Mantorville, MN, also attended and had, in January, participated in a design thinking workshop at IBM in Rochester with four other CEDA representatives.

Wright says, “Design thinking is sort of a newer, outcomes-focused, collaborative and interactive way of developing ideas, and I think it could be used to work with partners and one another to come up with innovative solutions in our regions, communities, and within our organization. We already have some partners who have recently expressed interest in collaborating with CEDA to brainstorm regional transportation solutions via design thinking. I think there’s a lot of potential to take advantage of this out-of-the-box framework, and I think we do need to always consider people’s daily life challenges in our communities.”

Mural at Hayfield, MN City Pool Nears Completion

This summer, students of Hayfield, MN High School volunteered to paint an astounding aquatic mural at the City’s public pool. 

The mural was sponsored by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) Paint the Town Grant and Ace Hardware. The Hayfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) applied for and was awarded the grant in 2018, but was unable to complete the project due to the continuous rainfall last summer.  CEDA team member Rebecca Charles who serves the Hayfield EDA worked with the High School art department to speak to students and recruit them for the summer project. Liz Fjerstad, Hayfield Elementary School Music Teacher, volunteered to be the project’s organizer and had been overseeing the project’s progression.

“The City is excited to share the results of the hard work of these students and volunteers with the community” says Charles.  “There is already additional discussion to expand the mural in a similar manner over the coming summers.”

Over 30 volunteers worked on the mural during the months of July and August of this summer.

CEDA Helps Montevideo, MN Host Childcare Provider Appreciation Gathering

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA representative Alek Schulz, who serves the City of Montevideo, partnered with Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to organize a Childcare Appreciation Gathering for childcare providers in Montevideo, Minnesota. On October 7th, 14 providers, representing the local childcare center, as well as in-home child care settings came together for the event. “My main goal in organizing this event was to get local providers together to thank them for their work, and in my opinion that was a success,” said Schulz about the event. The event allowed providers a place to gather and discuss issues they face and obstacles to overcome that lead to running a thriving child care business. “This event opened up the lines of communication that we need to help current providers, and hopefully will set up a good way for new providers to learn from those already in business,” Schulz explained.

CEDA Celebrates Manufacturers in October!

Article by: Mary Kennedy

The first week in October is traditionally named as Manufacturing Week across the nation. CEDA staff all over the territory we serve were busy supporting local manufacturers in a multitude of creative ways. 

Allison Wagner, who serves the Houston County Economic Development Authority (EDA) helped coordinate Manufacturing Week Tours for students at CTECH in Rochester to visit Truss Specialists Inc. and Crest Precast Concrete in La Crescent. 

Tom Nelson, CEDA representative serving the City of Jackson, delivered cookies and Certificates of Appreciation to manufacturing businesses, along with the Jackson Chamber of Commerce Director. 

Marty Walsh, who serves the Fillmore County EDA assisted tours with Fillmore Central High School and the Rochester Alternative Learning Center, touring Valley Design in Fountain, Minnesota and Harmony Enterprises in Harmony, Minnesota. 

CEDA team member Annie Leibel who serves Faribault County mailed thank you cards to all manufacturers within the community. Leibel also serves the City of Winnebago, where a Manufacturer’s Breakfast was hosted to support and show appreciation to local businesses.

Mary Kennedy, CEDA’s representative serving the City of Blue Earth, partnered with the Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce Director to visit with all of the manufacturers within the city limits and present them with handwritten thank you letters.

Emily Legel, the CEDA team member serving Northwest Illinois Economic Development, worked with her Board to send cards to area manufacturers thanking them for their contribution to the regional economy. 

Joya Stetson, Stewartville’s CEDA representative worked with the City’s EDA, DEED, RAEDI, CEDA and CRB Consulting Group to host a workshop on Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Employees, produced and shared an infographic with the economic impacts of manufacturing in the City, delivered personalized cards and cookies for employees at manufacturing companies in the City with the local chamber of commerce and held Stewartville’s October EDA meeting at a local manufacturer.

CEDA also collaborated with eight other Minnesota state and regional organizations for the second year in a row to help students gain a better understanding of manufacturing as a viable career option. For three days, October 1- October 3rd, 2019, 27 manufacturers opened their facility doors to over 500 high school and college students from 15 schools in southeast Minnesota.

11th Annual Goodhue County EDA Summit

The Goodhue County EDA is proud to sponsor the 11th Annual Goodhue County EDA Summit.

This FREE event will be focused on Leadership and Planning for the 2019 Summit.

Topics Include:

  • Blandin Leadership
  • Identifying & Cultivating Local Leadership
  • Working with Elected Officials
  • Community Foundations
  • Childcare Facility Planning
  • Project Funding

Refreshments and a Light Breakfast will be provided.

Breakfast and Networking begin at 7:30 AM with program to begin at 8:00 AM.

For more information, please see attached flyer.

To register, click here.

CEDA Staff Helps Bring Dollar General to Chatfield, MN

Article by: Chris Giesen

CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen, who serves as the Chatfield Economic Development Coordinator, led efforts to assist Dollar General in building a location in Chatfield, MN.  The Company recently broke ground in August 2019.

“Constructing a store like this may seem pretty straight forward and relatively easy; it’s a cookie-cutter design that can be built quickly,” said Giesen.  “However, the site was extremely challenging and we had to use most of the development tools in our box to make it happen. The EDA wanted to see downtown grow and expand the local offering of services, and this project allowed it to happen.”  Giesen noted that the project required many considerations and efforts such as site consolidation, rezoning, utilities and more.  “The EDA and City got involved because of all of these issues.  If we wanted redevelopment to happen here, we needed to assemble these properties because it was too much of a challenge for the private side to tackle it.” he added.

The City’s comprehensive plan initially called for an expansion of Chatfield’s downtown and the rezoning of several blocks of residential property to commercial.  The homes downtown continued to be lived in for over twenty years, but the City stuck to its plan for redevelopment by purchasing the parcels when possible and getting the land ready for commercial development. The City also received a MN DEED Redevelopment Grant for $233,000 to move public utilities and improve a street. Over the course of many years, the City and EDA worked diligently to explore various commercial options for the property including a hotel concept and a Family Dollar.

In early 2018, a developer, DGI Development Corp, looked at the site and felt that it would be suitable for their Dollar General store. Giesen then worked with DGI to negotiate purchase and development agreements. The EDA was able to modify an existing Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district to assist with costs associated with the site and dirt work needed to make the property buildable.

There were some underlying issues with the property and its title that had to be solved by Giesen and his project team.  Giesen, the city attorney, and city engineer worked diligently to correct or avoid all of these issues.  Giesen expressed, “This project presented some difficulties that we had to collaborate on in order to solve, but it came together in the end.  It was a team effort to get this project across the finish line.  The EDA and City Council were great leaders through this process. The new Dollar General will present an excellent amenity for our residents and businesses in Chatfield.  We are grateful that the project was able to come to fruition and that they will be a part of our community soon!”

Construction is now well underway and is scheduled to be complete in December 2019.


CEDA Staff in Eyota, MN Promotes EDA’s Build and Save Program

Article by: Cathy Enerson and Mary Kennedy

CEDA representative Cathy Enerson serves the City of Eyota as the Economic Development Director. In 2009, the Eyota Economic Development Authority (EDA) created a program which waived permit fees for new construction of homes and commercial buildings in the community. The Build and Save Program assisted developers until it’s sunset in 2018. Now, in 2019, Enerson has fielded requests from developers asking for the program to be reinstated. The Eyota EDA allowed the program’s return, and Enerson was recently able to work with Eyota Holdings LLC, to construct a 10,200 sq ft commercial building, with the benefit of waived permit fees, saving them a total of $2,275.

Additionally, Enerson was able to help the business secure Tax Abatement financing for the project. “Most communities want to create and promote financial incentives when times are hard. We have learned that companies will appreciate incentives just as much if not more when times are good.” shares Enerson of the EDA’s successful Build and Save program, “Incent people to work in your community, encourage them to come your way! That is when business owners and investors have funding to make new investments” shared Enerson about the EDA’s successful Build and Save program.

CEDA Teammates Partner to Bring Succession Planning Workshop to Community

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA team members, Annie Leibel and Mary Kennedy, who serve Faribault County, MN and the City of Blue Earth, MN respectively, joined efforts to organize a workshop designed to inform local business owners and stakeholders about the importance of business succession planning.

Blue Earth, one of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) five Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) communities, learned through the REV program’s core team that planning for a successful business transition is lacking throughout the business community.

The Blue Earth REV core team collaborated with the Faribault County Economic Development Authority to plan and host the workshop, which took place on September 10th in Blue Earth. Speaker Jennifer Hawkins, from the University of Minnesota Extension Department of Community Economics presented research and information to over 30 attendees, and answered several questions.

“Board members from the Faribault County Economic Development Authority and the Blue Earth REV team attended every City Council meeting in the county to spread the word about the event,” Leibel said. “We also promoted the event on Facebook, worked with the Blue Earth Area Chamber of Commerce, and advertised in the local newspaper. It was really important to us to make sure that every business knew about the event.”

Kennedy explained that to ensure business owners made attending the event a priority, direct mailings were also sent out, and personal invitations were delivered by staff and board members. “We don’t want to lose even one business in our community. We saw an opportunity to help by making local businesses aware of what succession planning is, and provide them with tools to begin preparing for the future.” said Kennedy.