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:

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:
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.”

CEDA Helps Kasson, MN to Offer New Business Facade Improvement Program

Article by: Stephanie Lawson

The work of business retention and attraction is critical to the local economy in Kasson,MN driving growth for the local tax base and expanding the employment opportunities, services, and amenities that residents depend on and desire.  With aspirations to bring new opportunities, businesses and economic vibrancy to the community the Kasson Economic Development Authority (EDA) is working to grow the local economy from within by promoting entrepreneurship and small business development through the establishment of a Business Facade Improvement Program.

The Program, with guidelines authored by CEDA team member Stephanie Lawson, has been established to encourage and support business owners who are interested in restoring their existing properties; ultimately enhancing and improving the visual aesthetics of the community.  When authoring the guidelines Lawson, along with her Board, reviewed similar programs offered by other CEDA communities, taking those concepts and tailoring them to fit the City of Kasson’s businesses and their growing needs.

“With an anticipated $20,000.00 designation for 2019 we [the City and EDA] are pleased to offer this tool as a part of our economic development efforts,” said Councilperson Dan Eggler.  “We are confident that the assistance being offered here will be advantageous for our existing businesses.”

The program is set to launch after the first of the year!

Completed Southeastern Minnesota Economic Study Released

Article by: Chris Giesen

On October 9th, 2018 the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM) and CEDA released a study with an updated economic forecast for southeast Minnesota which included options for several major policy shifts to accommodate population and employment growth over the next 25 years. Among the policy options and recommendations are zoning changes to support greater housing production, expanded transportation networks, a regional tourism strategy, immigrant support resources, and programs to increase access to childcare – all designed to grow the region’s economic development potential.

The study – the first of its kind in the region – forecasts long-range population, employment, and economic activity in the entire Southeastern Minnesota region, on a county-by-county basis. The region, comprised of Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties, encompasses 77 municipalities, with more than 368,000 residents and 190,000 employees.

“If you want to manage growth effectively, you have to have that information,” says Brenda Johnson, Executive Director of SEMLM.

The SEMLM asked CEDA to assist with the project by acting as a fiscal agent, project administration, and technical expertise.  In 2017, the legislature appropriating $275,000 to CEDA.  SEMLM and CEDA then solicited consulting firms in a search that drew international interest that could provide the expertise and tools to make this project happen.  Receiving proposals for 9 firms, CEDA assisted in the proposal review and ultimate selection of the consultant group HR&A Advisors, Inc. of New York.  Working closely with SEMLM and HR&A throughout the course of the project CEDA also completed all of the required state paperwork and reporting that is tied to legislative appropriations such as this.

“CEDA is very proud to have partnered with the Southeast Minnesota League of Municipalities on this important project for this Region.  Not very often does an opportunity come along to complete the in-depth research that the Legislature authorized to be analyzed.  The Legislature saw the vision that this information can provide. This information will be a valuable resource for municipalities and counties, regardless of size, to help guide their future decision-making processes.  We look forward to continuing to make SE Minnesota a great place to live, work, recreate and do business!” said CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler.

“Southeast Minnesota is lucky to have the leadership of SEMLM.  Their members saw a need for this study and will be able to utilize this information in their local and regional planning efforts.   This type of project has never been done before in our region but in order to plan wisely for growth, especially with all of the current economic activity, access to data is critical” added CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen who along with Zeigler made up the CEDA project team.

Among the study’s key findings and related recommendations are:

The population of Southeastern Minnesota is projected to grow by more than 50,000 over the next 25 years. To support this population growth, the region will require an additional 14,000 housing units above the current pace of housing production. A combination of policy changes – including allowing for accessory dwelling units and more density in key downtowns – can be enacted at the municipal-, county-, or state-levels to meet this need. Local officials will determine which solutions make sense for their communities, allowing each community to determine their own course of action.

Regional employment is forecasted to grow by 44,000 by 2040. With 10,000 existing unfilled jobs, the study proposes a series of initiatives to support the region’s existing and growing employment base. By expanding regional transit improvements, there is an opportunity to better match people to jobs throughout Southeastern Minnesota, connecting residential areas to job centers and distributing residential growth throughout the region. The study also proposes that increased access to childcare can improve access to jobs. Entities throughout the region can support the development and operation of childcare centers, and employers can be encouraged to offer services to support families with children. Finally, by supporting the region’s growing immigrant population, which grew from 4.2% in 2009 to 6.4% in 2016, the region can increase labor supply and opportunities for innovation. Southeastern Minnesota can continue to support international migrants with the formalization of existing immigrant services.

Tourism is growing in the region. Supplementing specific employment growth opportunities, the study considers additional initiatives and economic development circumstances facing the region. Given Minnesota’s growing tourism industry, with annual sales at tourism-related businesses growing by 41% between 2005 and 2015, and the strength of the industry in the region, supporting more than 16,000 jobs today, the study proposes that Southeastern Minnesota develop a regional tourism strategy to grow economic opportunities in the industry.

The region’s high health care premiums, relative to elsewhere in the state, may have economic development implications, impacting the region’s ability to competitively attract and retain businesses. The study also reflects on shifting trends in the region’s major industries, including agriculture and manufacturing. By solving for other challenges facing the region described above, however, the study postulates that the region can solve for these challenges.

The full study and data outputs can be found on the SEMLM’s website at

$375,000 CEDA-Authored Minnesota Investment Fund Award Received by Chatfield, MN for EZ Fabricating Expansion

Article by: Chris Giesen

The City of Chatfield, MN was recently notified that their application to the DEED Minnesota Investment Fund was fully awarded in support of an expansion of a local manufacturer, EZ Fabricating.  The award will grant $375,000 to Chatfield to then lend to EZ Fabricating with very favorable terms which will allow the business to add approximately 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space and create 17 new full time jobs at an average wage of $19.06.  CEDA team member Chris Giesen who serves the City of Chatfield was able to successfully author this application which gives the business a 1% fixed interest rate on a 15 year loan, and if the job and wage goals are met, $255,000 of loan will be forgiven by the state.

“This was exciting news; we’re so happy to see EZ Fabricating continue to grow especially because they do a lot of work for other businesses in our CEDA communities” said Giesen. “We had to really hustle on this application because the business had a client that was willing to give them significant new business but only if EZ Fabricating could meet their production goals, which required adding on to their building, right now.  The Company needed to start construction before winter or risk losing this new business.” He added “these applications can be very complex with a lot of moving parts, and can take a considerable amount of time to complete.  However, we were able to work with the business owners to get the required application materials together, hold the necessary public hearings, make all the approvals, and submit a full application in about two and half weeks. DEED was also very helpful in answering questions, coordinating the process, and even sped up their normal review process for us so that we could keep the owner on track to start building.”

In addition to the state program the City of Chatfield also approved a $25,000 loan to EZ Fabricating with a 1% fixed rate for a 10 year term.  This expansion is the second expansion CEDA assisted EZ Fabricating with, in 2013, Giesen assisted the business with a major expansion that resulted in several additional grant awards to assist the business as it built a new facility in Chatfield.  In this previous expansion, the Company met its job and wage goals within two months of finishing their expansion instead of the two years they were allowed.  For its help on the 2013 project, CEDA was nominated by partner F&M Community Bank and received a 2nd place “Strong Community” award from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.