CEDA Assists Millville Valley Meats in Opening for Meat Processing

Article by: Donna Mack

A new entrepreneur, Jason Hoffman is open for business in rural Millville providing quality and affordable meat and poultry processing services for farmers in the area.  Millville Valley Meats, 61301 North Country Road 11, a farm that has been in the Hoffman family for generations, is located a few miles outside of Millville, MN and 35 miles north of Rochester. It is surrounded by other small family farms and hunting properties.

Hoffman, an experienced meat processor, opened his business the day after the state inspection passed on February 21, 2020.  Hoffman commented, “It has been a long process and none of it would have been possible without Donna Mack’s help. Thank you very much to Donna for all she has done!! My door is always open to you.”  Mack is a CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist.

As a child, Hoffman helped his grandparent’s process poultry every day throughout the summer. Hoffman also helped process meat at his family farm where his father designed and founded the meat processing business, Hoffman Processing, in 1990 and operated it for 15 years. Hoffman continued to gain experience working at local meat processors in Goodview and Lake City before opening his own facility.

As a personal investment in purchasing the family farm, Hoffman has always wanted to modernize his father’s meat processing operation and help out the neighboring farmers and hunters. With this desire, Hoffman came to CEDA for assistance.  Mack was able to provide a great deal of assistance for Hoffman and his wife, Missy Hoffman,  in preparation of their financial projections for the lender application process.

Hoffman  has a strong belief in agricultural entities and felt there was a high need for more meat processing facilities in the area. Therefore, Hoffman and Mack visited with some lenders, and Hoffman decided Compeer Financial was most helpful in working with an agriculture business with their lending program. Compeer assisted him in purchasing new, upgraded and modernized equipment which is necessary to meet health inspections for food safety. The Hoffman’s facility is operating safely, effectively and efficiently. Hoffman is processing beef, pork, lamb, chicken and deer.

Mack, Community and Business Development Specialist with CEDA stated, “In my time with Jason assisting him in the planning and the start-up of a new business in agriculture, he has shown me that he is goal-oriented, personable and skilled in his trade. He aims to be a successful businessman, and has a goal to help farmers receive quality finished products with their investments.”

The pandemic impact on our economy is happening now in our communities, at large meat processing companies, and on farms across the country needing somewhere to take their animals. The resilience of our farm and food system is an essential factor in determining our success in responding to this pandemic. Now is the time for critical investments in agricultural food systems by taking proactive measures toward making our food and agriculture more resilient and sustainable. Investing in farm to table will bring a positive effect to the local area by connecting farmers to Millville Valley Meats.

CEDA Community Grants Bulletin (CGB) to evolve into CEDA Community Grants Database (CGD)

article by: Abby Wright

For a year and a half, CEDA’s Community Grants Bulletin (CGB) has been shared each month with CEDA staff and many of their EDA Boards and city officials to help devise a fundraising strategy for their community and economic development needs.

“Now that we have well over a year of research-based, annual grant deadlines for CEDA communities in a collective list, the Grants Department can start making it even easier for the team to match grant opportunities with their community projects,” says Abby Wright, CEDA Community Grant Specialist. Wright plans to do this by adapting the CGB into a live, easy-to-use digital spreadsheet, which will enable each CEDA contract in the Community Support Program to have its own annual list of grant deadlines tailored to its geographic location; Wright will work with colleagues to keep the records as comprehensive, relevant, and updated as possible.

The new CEDA Community Grants Database (CGD), expected to be up and running in early summer, will also include a section where CEDA staff can enter grant questions and research assistance requests so that team members can be aware of other team members’ similar projects for potential collaboration and information-sharing. This section will also organically create records that include a real “tally” of the most common fundraising needs among CEDA communities.


City of Goodview, MN Receives Grant from Minnesota Business Finance Corporation

Article by: Donna Mack

The Goodview, MN Economic Development Authority (EDA) created a Community Leadership Committee as one of the first steps toward a Comprehensive Plan. In collaboration of these two entities, project objectives were identified for the City’s Comprehensive Plan. CEDA team member, Donna Mack, who serves the City, and City Administrator Dan Matejka led the Leadership members with topics for discussion to seek input for the community’s past, present and future.

“The engagement of the Leadership Committee and the Comprehensive Steering Committee laid the groundwork, and worked closely with the City and the EDA in preparation for Bolton & Menk to now take the reins. We are thankful for the committee insight, and their loyalty of time,” said Donna Mack of CEDA.

The EDA recently received an award of $1,500 from Minnesota Business Finance Corporation (MBFC). The grant funds will be used to extend Bolton & Menk’s proposal to develop a web page to be hosted on the City’s website. The web page can be used for project information, upcoming events, opportunities to get involved and places to provide comments.

Additionally, the MBFC grant fund will help the City develop a community survey. A successful engagement will inform the public of the City’s goal, which is to have broad buy-in and support, to pave the way for a successful comprehensive plan. Dan Matejka stated, “We are so pleased to work with Bolton & Menk to create a vision for our City and a long-range plan to implement a vision for Goodview. Creating a tailored Comprehensive Plan to meet the needs and character of Goodview has been a priority for the EDA”.

Spring Grove unveils CEDA-authored Housing Study

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson

CEDA team member Cathy Enerson recently completed a comprehensive housing study for the City of Spring Grove, which revealed exciting data about the growth potential for the community as well as tangible recommendations for implementation. The process included three community engagement sessions, an employer survey, and research in partnership with stakeholders.

The final study outlines the needs for different housing types and provides case studies, resources, a potential development map, and practical next steps for community initiatives to spur housing growth. As a result of the study, the Council and EDA voted to create a new Housing Subcommittee to provide leadership on implementing the recommendations. The Spring Grove EDA, led by CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson and Rebecca Charles, commissioned the study in partnership with the City. Rebecca Charles authored a $5,000 Compeer Financial grant to cover a majority of the costs.

CEDA Team Member Works to Organize Job Fair in Preston, MN

Article by: Cathy Enerson

On March 3rd, Southeast Minnesota high school students, their parents and the general public were invited to attend a Job and Career Fair at Fillmore Central School in Preston.   By all accounts, the first Job and Career Fair was a success!

28 businesses/organizations in the retail, tourism, health care, manufacturing and construction industries were on hand to speak with 90 students from Preston, Harmony, Mabel, Canton, and Chatfield schools who passed through the job fair and attended the four career sessions. Jen Strand, Recruitment Marketing Consultant/Event Coordinator at Jobs HQ collaborated in organizing the event with Cathy Enerson, Preston EDA Director and CEDA team member.  The companies had booths where people could find out how to actually apply for a position (or if they’d already applied, they could find out what’s next). There was no cost or registration required for interested job seekers who attended, Jen Strand shared that “attending helps job seekers discover jobs they didn’t know existed – the hidden job market.”

The genesis of the job fair is the new veterans home proposed to be built in Preston.  Enerson shared information on how this job fair came to be.  “It was a combination of things.  It was the fact that the Preston Area Chamber of Commerce was interested in promoting opportunities for part-time, seasonal and volunteer opportunities.  As well as the fact that, should the MDVA (Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs) project happen in the next couple of years we will need to fill 139 jobs, we want to know how to run a successful job and career fair.  We want to prepare Preston.”

The day ended with when a panel of nine local business leaders and entrepreneurs sharing their career journey from high school to where they are today in the careers. The panelists shared a theme of following your passion and volunteering.

“Thanks so much for including Mabel-Canton in the job & career fair.  It was VERY ORGANIZED and the format was great! The kids chattered about what they saw on the entire trip home.  It supports all the conversations that I’m having with kids each day!” said Lana Hollar, K-12 School Counselor at Mabel-Canton Public Schools.


CEDA Helps Hayfield, MN Begin Interactive Planning Strategy for Safe Routes to School Application

Article by: Rebecca Charles

The Safe Routes to School Program helps make it safe and fun for students to bicycle and walk to school.  When kids are more active, they arrive to school focused and ready to learn.  Safe Routes to School has many benefits for Minnesota including improved safety, reduced traffic and improved air quality near schools.  Preparing a ‘Trails Program’ can be done by a city subcommittee and assistance from an engineer, but Hayfield EDA Director and CEDA team member, Rebecca Charles felt something was missing.  The EDA board wanted the entire community to be able to give their input on the project.

Through a process of interactive activities, the goal of the Hayfield EDA is to obtain details from students regarding where trails will be most beneficial in making it easier to walk or bike to school.  Factors that will be identified include tripping hazards in route to school, locations where there is no current safe place for students to walk, heavy traffic and other obstacles when walking and biking to school.  “It’s extremely important to get the input from the youth of the community as well as the parents.  It is the younger students who are doing the walking.  They know the answers to our questions better than anyone else!”, says Charles.

On Thursday, February 20th, Charles met with the Senior and Junior classes at the Hayfield Public High School in the gymnasium to secure their input.  Charles introduced the Safe Routes to School program to the students, along with what the EDA is trying to accomplish through these activities.  Two more workshops will be held in April to gain community input from the community at large.

CEDA-Authored Grant Assists Stewartville, MN in Purchasing Radar Feedback Signs

The City of Stewartville, MN will be able to improve road safety this year thanks to a $6,792.10 grant from State Farm.

CEDA team members Joya Stetson and Abby Wright successfully authored the aforementioned grant application to State Farm’s Good Neighbor Citizenship® Company Grants program. Stetson and Wright outlined how the City planned to purchase and install three radar speed signs in areas where Olmsted County police officers have recorded a high number of speeders within City limits. These signs have been proven to encourage drivers to abide by speed limits through increasing awareness.   In fact, studies have reported that radar signs cause 8/10 drivers to slow their speeds by an average of 10-20% and to comply with most of the posted speed limit signs on their route thereafter; even a small reduction in speed can substantially reduce accidents or even fatalities.

“Road safety and risk mitigation are extremely important to State Farm, which is why we felt that the Program would be a good fit for this project,” said Stetson. “State Farm’s team was easy to work and communicate with throughout the process. We are so appreciative of the opportunity to further increase and promote safety in our community.”

State Farm regularly considers contributing to eligible organizations for projects focused on safety, community development and education.  Their grant application cycle is currently closed but will likely open again on September 1, 2020.  Continue to visit their website for more information!

Houston County, MN Career Fair Fosters Workforce Opportunities

Article by: Allison Wagner

The Houston County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Workforce Development Inc. (WDI) partnered to host a free career fair for businesses and job seekers on February 12 at the La Crescent Area Event Center. CEDA’s Small Cities Development Program Specialist and Houston County EDA Director Allison Wagner worked with WDI to plan and market the event, which featured nearly 30 Houston County businesses. 

“We believed that hosting a County-wide career fair would be an excellent way to showcase many of our local businesses and attract job seekers to the area,” said Wagner. 

Student and adult job seekers from the County and surrounding areas, including Winona and LaCrosse Counties, met one-on-one with businesses to explore opportunities in finance, education, accounting, healthcare, manufacturing, customer service, construction, childcare, and more. 

Career seekers expressed that they were excited to see such an array of career opportunities represented. Businesses owners and affiliates said they enjoyed speaking to potential employees while also getting to meet and visit with other employers. Some exchanged career marketing strategies at the fair.

CEDA Team Helps Business Start Up in Spring Grove, MN

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson and Rebecca Charles

The Spring Grove Economic Development Authority, led by CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson and Rebecca Charles, recently provided business coaching and $15,000 in gap financing to help local entrepreneur Jenn Gulbranson start a new business on Main Street. Jenn had been operating her salon business just outside of town, but had always wanted to start a boutique as well. When the opportunity came for her to move her business to a space downtown, she and her husband jumped at the opportunity to make it their own, uncovering historic brick walls and investing in modern finishes to accommodate an expanded salon and new boutique. The project leveraged $120,000 in local investment.

They recently held the grand opening of West Main Boutique and Stratford Salon, partnering with local businesses RockFilter Distillery and Capra Nera Creamery to sample locally-made bourbon and artisan goat cheese at the event.

CEDA-Authored Grant Awards Nearly $582,000 to Rehab 23 Homes in Hayfield, MN

Article by: Allison Wagner and Ron Zeigler

The City of Hayfield has been awarded a $581,900 Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) Grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). The grant was authored by CEDA’s Small Cities Development Program Specialist, Allison Wagner.

“The process of applying for DEED’s SCDP program can take nearly a year”, Wagner says. “It involves working with the City to identify a target area, surveying the area to determine the level of need, and submitting a preliminary application. Then, cities must be invited to submit a full application. Once a city is awarded, CEDA conducts an environmental review before grant money can be used.” 

Last month, CEDA began disbursing grant funds for the City of Hayfield. Abby Wright, CEDA Community Grants Specialist, and Wagner are working to disburse the funds to 23 households over the next two years. Disbursement includes meeting with homeowners to determine eligibility, walking though homes in order to determine needs, writing work write-ups for contractors, getting State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) approval, coordinating and attending pre-construction meetings, doing inspections, and reporting to DEED. 

CEDA has been applying for and disbursing SCDP grants for over 30 years. SCDP funds, which are 100% forgivable for homeowners who stay in their home for seven years from the project start date, are used by low-to-median income home owners to fix health and concerns inside the home, as well as major aesthetics on the exterior of their homes. Funds are commonly used to repair worn and leaking roofs, torn away siding, missing or dysfunctional gutters and railings, peeling paint, and to address lead hazards.