CEDA Team Member Helps Frazee, MN’s EDA Socialize

Article by: Reva Mische
Since starting their work with CEDA in February, the City of Frazee, MN has been busy with projects to strengthen and promote their Economic Development activities. CEDA team member Reva Mische who serves Frazee has made social media a priority to further the marketing activities of the EDA.
Through social media outlets, communities are able to connect with residents they may not otherwise be able to reach. For Frazee, creating an EDA Facebook page linked to their City website is the first step in growing their social media presence. While the Facebook page is still in its infancy, the City’s EDA has already experienced increased ease in providing updates on resources, programs, and events. The page also serves as a venue for highlighting area businesses, organizations, and community members. By connecting through social media with other area organizations, such as the Frazee Community Club, the EDA can reach a larger audience through content sharing and “likes.”
In addition to the shared content from other are organizations and businesses, content posted on the Frazee EDA’s Facebook page currently includes advertising the Comprehensive Plan update, the Frazee Community Home Improvement program, and available properties. Future content may include community projects, business incentive program offerings, community and business surveys, and other engagement opportunities. While all community and business members may not be subscribers to social media, this venue offers Frazee the ability to expand their Economic Development marketing while keeping costs low and content fresh.

The City of Jackson Receives $49,328 CEDA-Authored BDPI Grant

Article By: Thomas Nelson

The City of Jackson, MN was recently awarded a $49,328 Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant to extend a water main located in an industrial park. Upon being awarded the grant the City Council voted to award the contract for the project which is scheduled to begin in the first week of May 2018. The project will extend a 10” water main approximately 1,200 feet looping the existing water main; weather dependent, the project will take approximately a week to complete.

This is the third BDPI grant that Jackson has received with the first two being in 2005 and 2011. Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) team member Thomas Nelson, who authored the grant application, is excited about the project and the impact it will have. “The BDPI grant program has been a huge benefit to Jackson and has helped to create a truly remarkable industrial park,” Nelson said. “This project will not only help to keep the roughly 2,000 jobs located in the industrial park but also help to create more in the future.” One example of future development in the industrial park is a 30,000-square foot speculative building that is nearing completion and is reliant on the extension to provide the necessary pressure for its fire suppression system.

The CEDA authored grant award will pay for 50% of proposed improvements in the industrial park located along Industrial Parkway in northwest Jackson, MN. The City of Jackson will pay for will pay the 50% match, including engineering, and admin cost. The project was estimated to cost $121,106.40 with $98,656.00 of the cost being eligible for BDPI matching funds. The City Council awarded the contract to Ground Water Management Incorporated of Brewster, MN for $62,870.94. With the bid coming in under the estimated cost the city will not need to use the full amount of the grant.

The water main extension will loop the existing water main in order to provide sufficient water pressure, specifically for fire suppression in support of existing and future, manufacturing, warehousing, and disruption businesses in the industrial park. The project will boost the industrial park’s water supply to support an estimated demand of 1,715 gallons per minute while leaving a nearby system pressure residual of 32 psi which will create an adequate supply for fire protection in the industrial park as it continues to grow.

Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Automotive Dealership to Open along I-90 in St. Charles MN

Article by: Cris Gastner

The City of St. Charles and CEDA Senior Vice President, Cris Gastner worked with Chadwick Real Estate Services to negotiate the sale of 9.11 acres of land on Enterprise Drive in the city St. Charles, Minnesota.  Chadwick is representing Danmar Properties, LLC in its purchase of four (4) platted commercial lots located within the City’s Chattanooga Business Park, along Interstate 90 and Minnesota Highway 74.

Danmar is part of the family that owns Dodge of Burnsville, a large volume south metro dealer located on Interstate 35W and Cliff Road in Burnsville, MN. Danmar acquired the land to build a new, state of the art automotive dealership catering to families in the community and Interstate customers from surrounding states.  The first store, on the site, will feature Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands and include a Ram truck service center.

Chadwick Real Estate was enlisted by the Fiat Chrysler Automotive dealership group to perform development services, including a location search, which yielded the St. Charles site. “The City of St. Charles team did a great job of communicating with us, working with our requirements, and helping us bring the project through the City’s planning process quickly”. – Chad R. Wiech, Principal

Site work will likely begin in early July, 2018, with plans for the dealership to open within the year.

Blue Earth, MN Making Progress in “REV’ing Up” the Community

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Blue Earth, MN was among the five communities with populations of 5,000 or less selected to participate in the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV). The REV model is based on The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship’s Energized Communities (e2) framework. REV is a unique, long-term commitment that focuses on developing processes and systems for sustainable economic growth. The program focuses on finding and igniting existing entrepreneurs within communities which helps the community grow from within.

Blue Earth’s REV program has been renamed BEA Rev’d Up and consists of a core team that is made up of City staff, local business owners, Chamber of Commerce representatives, EDA board members, a Community Coordinator, and CEDA team member Mary Kennedy who serves the City of Blue Earth. The structure of the program encourages the core group to identify the various businesses in the community to determine which definition of entrepreneur is most relevant to Blue Earth. Kennedy put together and organized an updated business inventory list in order for the group to have a clear idea of what businesses were in operation in Blue Earth. With that list, the group was able to identify five transitional businesses and five growth oriented businesses to target as the program moves forward. The core group is also tasked with planning a community event which will provide a chance to engage the public and inform local entrepreneurs of this exciting new opportunity. While the core group is still in the process of planning that event, the group realized an extra outreach opportunity.

With so many existing community groups and local networks such as Kiwanis and Lions, the group thought that having a representative attend those meetings would provide a great platform to begin informing the community and spreading the word about BEA Rev’d Up! Representatives of the core group are working to organize dates to attend monthly meetings and speak with the various local community groups. Additionally, the core group is working to form a Resource Team and an Outreach Team to assist in the implementation of the program. One of the strategies Kennedy has been tasked with is to attend a Blue Earth Area School Board meeting. This is with the intention to inform the board of the REV program as well as to share her experience meeting with the neighboring City of Fairmont’s Superintendent of Schools, Joe Brown. Kennedy met with Brown to discuss the emphasis his district has put on vocational education. Kennedy was able to tour Fairmont’s Saturday Welding Academy and share her thoughts with the Blue Earth EDA and REV core group. Many Blue Earth Area students head to Fairmont on Saturdays to take advantage of their welding class and facilities, however they are responsible for their own transportation. The EDA and REV program would like to partner to come up with a solution to sponsor the transportation. Both boards see the value in educating local youth for vocational sector jobs with the intention of connecting students with the necessary resources to keep them in the area for work and business start-up opportunities.

CEDA Communities Partner with Educators to Promote Career Readiness to Students

Article by: Marty Walsh

March 9th was the culmination of a month-long project by the Houston County, MN Economic Development Authority in partnership with important entities such as: Perkins Consortium; Caledonia, MN; La Crescent, MN; Lewiston-Altura schools, Rushford-Peterson schools, Fillmore County, MN Economic Development and Workforce Development, Inc. These organizations, including the CEDA team members serving the affected areas, worked together to bring  career readiness information to senior students. Also importantly, the event helped local businesses get exposure among the students for job opportunities as well as giving the businesses a better understanding of what the emerging workforce looks like.

CEDA team member Courtney Bergey Swanson aided Perkins Consortium Director Brian Cashman in coordinating the initial group of schools after coming to understand that there was a disconnect between school and employers that could be remedied with increased communication. Area schools then dedicated themselves to developing curriculum that better connected the two critical components of the community and additional partnerships, including CEDA, brought in Fillmore County Economic Development and Workforce Development, Inc. The working group determined a senior career day to be a worthwhile goal that could be accomplished within the school year, and something that can grow into job shadowing, apprenticeships, and general career awareness for local students. Connecting students early to the wide variety of workforce opportunities in the community increases the probability that they will seek and find fulfilling employment in the region, something that was attractive to the nearly two dozen businesses who participated in the career day by sending volunteers from their Human Resource and Business Development departments to conduct mock interviews and answer questions about their communities. Businesses attended from 5 counties representing fields from logistics to banking to advanced manufacturing.

“Many of our business participants felt they gained great insight getting to talk to students one on one,” said Marty Walsh, the CEDA team member serving the Fillmore County EDA, “And many realized even if there wasn’t a student who lived in the same town as their business, they may have relatives seeking career opportunities for whom it’s a better fit. Many also recognize anyone from the region is more likely to move back here after seeking a degree or certificate program if they know there are opportunities, and they are more likely to do it than someone with no roots here. These are the perfect long-term candidates for our employers.”

With the excitement generated in the schools as well as among employers, CEDA staff hope that they will be able to replicate the program with more school districts over the next several years and continue to provide this unique connection between education, workforce and community.

CEDA Communities Getting Proactive About Housing Needs

Today, many communities across Greater Minnesota and Iowa are challenged with fulfilling their housing needs.  In an effort to remain proactive and strategic, many CEDA communities are taking steps to conduct comprehensive housing studies.  The primary objective of these studies is to assist in determining each community’s housing deficits.  They will provide a detailed analysis that will identify current and future housing needs in the community and help decision makers develop a greater understanding of the housing market.

Communities are often provided with recommendations and action plans for housing development (both short and long-term), as well as, tools and policies that will assist in implementation based on an examination of the demographics, economic characteristics and trends, and current housing market conditions.  The studies will deliver valuable information that community leaders, stakeholders, and decision-makers can use to promote development activity and investment as it shows those potential developers and investors the needs and viability of targeted projects within their communities.

Some CEDA communities are currently undergoing this process with the assistance of their CEDA representatives.  Dodge County, MN has commissioned a study which will be completed by Maxfield Research and Consulting. The County is hoping that the study will analyze and ascertain the housing needs county-wide as well as the specific needs of each of the six individual communities within the county.  CEDA team member Stephanie Lawson who serves the Dodge County EDA is excited to begin the process and is looking forward to the results of the study. “This housing study is the first step in securing the necessary residential options for those individuals living, working or considering relocation to Dodge County.” Lawson said, “Once complete, the study’s results will provide County officials with data that can effectively market the community to appropriate developers as well as aid the County in its planning process.” Dodge County’s housing study is being primarily funded by donations from community stakeholders.  CEDA staff also authored and received a $5,000 Feasibility Study grant from Compeer Financial.  The study is expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

Lewiston, MN is also working on a study which is being conducted by Widseth Smith Nolting. CEDA team member Rebecca Charles works with the City’s EDA and has guided the community’s project efforts. Charles wrote and was approved for a $2,500 grant from Compeer Financial to complete the study. “The Lewiston EDA Board is anticipating our results within the next month.” Charles shared, “The City plans to utilize the information on current inventory, market trends and predicted growth to thoughtfully plan for the future by attracting relevant developers and employers.”

Other CEDA counties currently looking into housing study research include Fillmore County, MN and Howard County, IA.

Houston County, MN Welcomes Smithsonian Youth Programming

Article by: Courtney Bergey

This year, students from Houston County will have the exciting opportunity to be part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program called Stories: YES Houston (Youth + Engagement + Skillbuilding)StoriesYES Houston is presented as part of the 2018 Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “The Way We Worked,” exploring how work became a central element in American culture, and tracing the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.

The selected youth applicants will develop skills in local and oral history research, interviewing, media production, exhibit design, narrative writing, public speaking, and more. By the end of the project, the participants will have produced a series of multimedia stories that will inspire local conversations on economic sustainability and regional identity.

Houston County CEDA representative Courtney Bergey assisted with the program planning and will be an active partner in the project, which received $10,000 in funding from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Small Town Grant program. Project coordinator is Erin Dorbin, a Houston, MN-based historian and multimedia producer.

For more information on the program, visit http://www.storiesyeshouston.com/ or check out this article http://www.bluffcountrynews.com/Content/Bluff-Country-Reader/Bluff-Country-News/Article/City-of-Houston-receives-Small-Town-Grant-award/14/23/70130

CEDA Administration of Small Cities Development Block Grants

Article by: Michelle Vrieze

Over the past 30+ years, CEDA has authored and administered Small Cities Development Block Grants (SCDBG) for numerous communities throughout Southeast Minnesota.   These grants are highly competitive and are funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development at the federal level and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) at the State level.   The grants can make a huge impact on rural communities.


Processing a SCBDG is a time consuming process that starts with a community inquiry to CEDA to discuss a need within the community and if a SCDBG is an appropriate investment into the need.  There is also commonly discussion about CEDA potentially authoring the grant and administering the process for the community.    Community needs could include:  owner occupied housing deficiencies, rental housing needs, commercial rehabilitation needs or public facility improvements.  Each activity has a maximum amount of $600,000 that can be applied for.   CEDA staff will work with the community to “map out” the target areas and distribute surveys to the occupants within this area to demonstrate if there is a federal objective and a need.


Once a need is determined, a Preliminary Proposal is submitted to DEED in November.  These competitive applications are reviewed by DEED.  If accepted by DEED staff and ruled competitive, CEDA and the community are invited to submit a full application due the following February.    In consultation with CEDA, a community can increase the competitiveness of the application and receiving a favorable response to the review.  One such way is to offer leverage funds to increase the overall total available funds.  These leveraged funds could be sourced from EDA revolving loan funds, utility board funding, Greater MN Housing or other sources.


Once a project is awarded, on behalf of the community, CEDA staff administers the grant through all of the intricacies each project brings forth including setting a scope of work, reviewing bids, awarding contracts, pre-construction meetings, assuring that all paperwork is in place, making sure that any project meets any state or federal requirements all the way through to project completion and final payment and securing lien waivers.


In the most recent round of review and awards, CEDA authored three grants totaling $1,525,798.  Over the previous five years, CEDA has authored and been awarded $3,776,554 in SCDBG.


If you have questions in regards to SCDBG, please contact:

Michelle Vrieze, Director of Grants, [email protected]

or Megan DeRouchey, Assistant Director of Grants, [email protected]

CEDA Team Member Helping to Bring Dog Park to Lewiston, MN

Article by: Rebecca Charles

CEDA team member Rebecca Charles, who serves the City of Lewiston, MN, has been working closely with a Lewiston-Altura High School student to offer a new amenity to local residents of the community.

Dog parks are an increasingly popular amenity request in communities of various sizes, and can be a differentiating factor for pet owners looking to relocate. As a part of a Girl Scout Gold Award project, Allison Bronk, Lewiston resident and Senior at the Lewiston-Altura High School recently made a proposal to the City of Lewiston to add a dog park to the community.  The student approached the Lewiston Economic Development Authority (EDA) to formally request funds to pay for a mandatory land survey.  The land survey is needed to acknowledge the boundaries of the lots which will be used for the dog park.  All other required funding for the project has been raised by the student.

Rebecca Charles of CEDA worked with the student and the EDA to understand the community’s role and inherent benefit of the project and to select an appropriate proposal for the survey.  The City of Lewiston’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved funding for a land survey to be performed at the site of the old city pool for the creation of the new dog park.  The survey will be completed by Kleinschmidt Surveying of Winona.  Work is expected to be completed in mid-February of 2018.

The City of Lewiston is excited about the expanding local amenities that they are able to offer all of its citizens.  These developments are only possible because of the motivated and creative members of the community.

Dodge County Receives $135,450 CEDA-Authored MnDOT Grant

Article by: Tom Monson

Dodge County, MN was recently awarded a $135,450 Transportation Economic Development grant by MnDOT to make safety improvements to MN State Highway 56 in partnership with Con-Tech Manufacturing, Inc.

The CEDA authored grant award will pay for 70% of proposed improvements to build turn and bypass lanes on the highway just south of Dodge Center. Con-Tech Manufacturing, Inc. will pay the 30% match, including engineering and right of way costs. The company also anticipates the traffic improvements will result in 55 additional FTE jobs created by 2022.

Con-Tech Manufacturing, Inc. CFO, Troy Stafford highlighted, “our biggest reason for the project was for community and employee safety which complements being good stewards in the community in which we operate.”

The partnership between Dodge County, Con-Tech Manufacturing, and MnDOT is an exciting example of CEDA’s regional, collaborative role.