CEDA launches Harvest Entrepreneur Network (HEN) in Greater Minnesota

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson

Entrepreneurs in Greater Minnesota are invited to join the Harvest Entrepreneur Network (HEN), a new CEDA-led program made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Through HEN, CEDA’s professional staff will 1) provide free, individualized coaching to a cohort of rural entrepreneurs, and 2) develop a series of workshops aimed to educate, connect, and support businesses in greater Minnesota. Eligible entrepreneurs are invited to apply through March 6, 2020.

For more information on upcoming workshops or to complete an online application for the Harvest Entrepreneur Network, visit https://www.cedausa.com/agricultural-resources/.

CEDA Authors Cannon Roots Plan

Article by: Nicholas Ouellette

In 2019, CEDA had the opportunity to conduct research and create a report on the Cannon Roots project for the City of Cannon Falls. The Cannon Roots project represents a community-wide mission and brand for local foods producers, businesses, and residents of Cannon Falls to establish the city as a go-to food destination in the region. CEDA team members found the prospect of creating a plan for the food economy intriguing. Agricultural and good businesses are intertwined with our personal and work lives, and not to mention integral to the livelihoods of many Minnesotans.

As part of the research process, CEDA team members Courtney Bergey-Swanson and Nicholas Ouellette conducted site visits in Cannon Falls. The site visit was important as they allow the CEDA team to develop a deeper understanding of the local food economy in Cannon Falls. Swanson and Ouellette also conducted interviews with local food economy leaders. Determining the local perspectives on the Cannon Falls food economy, as well as local attitudes towards growth and brand development, was important so the final report and recommended actions reflect the values and aspirations of the Cannon Falls community.

The aim of the report, submitted in September, is to provide objectives and actionable items for Cannon Falls to consider for the foundation and long-term success of Cannon Roots and the food economy in Cannon Falls. Some key aspects of the plan include recommendations for local engagement, tourism, foods sector infrastructure, business assistance, and beautification/signage projects amongst a total of 30 objectives and 80 actionable items outlined in the report. The CEDA team appreciates the opportunity we had to work on Cannon Roots, and are excited for the opportunities it presents to local foods businesses and the City of Cannon Falls!

West Concord, MN Utilizes CEDA Assistance to Promote the Development of New Housing Lots

West Concord, MN has begun working to develop two parcels of land, 2.5 acres and 8 acres, for new housing. The City currently owns 3 lots in the Mathias Subdivision, where buildable lots have been selling regularly for the past two years.

The new lots will be on two properties adjacent to the existing subdivision. One lot grouping is the site of a former charter school; the other is agricultural land being purchased from a local resident. The City is working with the CEDA team to develop an RFP to invite developers, interested in either or both parcels, with the intent for a developer to manage the entire project as their market research sees fit.

The new housing will aid the City in attracting both a workforce for local businesses as well as to take part in the growth being experienced in regional centers including Owatonna, MN. CEDA is working to build relationships with the business community in the regional centers to highlight the opportunity for workforce housing in communities such as West Concord. 

Activity Brewing at Trail Creek Coffee Roasters

Article by: Nicholas Ouellette

There was plenty to celebrate at Trail Creek Coffee Roasters on Small Business Saturday this year. Trail Creek Coffee Roasters were officially welcomed to the business community with a ribbon cutting ceremony organized by the Kasson Chamber of Commerce. The ribbon cutting also coincided with the coffee roasters new food license and installation of their new sign above the entrance to the roastery.

The roasters new Temporary Food Stand License from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will allow them to prepare and sell espresso drinks at a variety of events and locations throughout the year. You can find Trail Creek Coffee Roasters at the indoor Rochester Farmers Market at Graham Arenas throughout the winter. Looking forward to 2020, the roasters hope to be at events throughout the region such as the Dodge County Business Expo and Thursdays Downtown. Trail Creek Coffee will continue to sell beans and drip coffee from their roastery, you can find more information about products and hours on their website.

The new Trail Creek Coffee Roasters sign was installed in partnership with the Kasson EDA through their Business Façade Improvement Program. The program provides matching grants to businesses looking to improve the exterior aesthetics of their building. CEDA team member Nicholas Ouellette assisted the business through this application process and award.

You can visit Trail Creek Coffee Roasters in Kasson to resupply on coffee beans, sample their drip coffee, and maybe catch some roasting in action! They are located in Kasson’s old library building just off of Main Street. You will easily spot their building, now adorned with their new sign!

Rushford Village, MN Begins Land Use Planning with CEDA Staff

Article by: Rebecca Charles
CEDA team member Rebecca Charles, serving the City of Rushford Village, MN, is working with the City Council to advance the long term tactical planning for the City through a Land Use Study.  Charles will be conducting a survey of rural landowners within the city limits of Rushford Village to collect data from residents. This information ranges on issues from parks and services to housing and land sales.
Through this study Charles intends to create a report showing areas where development is most feasible and what type of development is desired.
The project is scheduled to begin this month!

CEDA Helps Winnebago, MN Gather Community Input

Article by: Annie Leibel

CEDA team member, Annie Leibel, who serves the City of Winnebago, MN, recently worked with Winnebago’s EDA to gather community input to help shape their future goals.

First, Leibel compiled a series of questions to survey the business community. The questions focused on workforce availability, business climate, and future plans. To increase responses, Leibel personally visited each business to distribute the survey. By personally distributing the surveys, Leibel was able to form a stronger relationship with the businesses and get a 37% response rate. The survey responses indicated several businesses were interested in expanding both their physical location and number of employees. These surveys will help guide Leibel and the EDA over the next year.

Once the business survey was complete, Leibel created a community survey to gather input from residents. The survey was sent via mail, along with the City’s first community newsletter to each residential address in Winnebago. The survey included questions about quality of life, city communication, and potential new offerings. The survey was then promoted on the City’s Social Media, and additional paper copies were available at City Hall. Both the newsletter and the survey were met with positive results. Residents were happy to be able to share their input, and appreciated the newsletter with important City information. Overall, residents rated their quality of life as good to excellent. The City also learned that many residents prefer to receive updates via a newsletter, as opposed to social media. Beginning in 2020, the City is planning to send out a newsletter at least twice per year to share current events, safety reminders, and important notices with residents.

Leibel will use the feedback from the business survey and community survey to guide the Winnebago EDA’s work in the future. The surveys have already led to stronger relationships with business owners, and residents have renewed optimism in the work of the EDA.

Stewartville, MN EDA Commissions Community Marketing Videos!

Article by: Joya Stetson

CEDA team member Joya Stetson, who serves the City of Stewartville, MN, recently worked with the City’s EDA to commission the creation of some inspirational community marketing videos. These videos, which were all produced by the company HH Solutions, were designed to personify living and working in the City.

Three total videos were created: one short video on living in Stewartville, one short video on working in Stewartville and a longer, combined production that incorporated both living and working in the City. The videos were all centered around interviews with local residents and businesses who recounted their gratitude for and experience with the amenities, incentives and overall helpfulness of City boards and personnel.

“The interviews captured by HH Solutions perfectly exemplify what it feels like to be a part of a community; they grab viewers’ attention and make them feel something,” said Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King. “After the unveiling of the videos, our entire EDA Board left feeling extremely proud to be in Stewartville.  It is something we cannot wait to share with the world!”

The Stewartville community videos have already been shared through the City’s social media and website.  HH Solutions also prepared an additional outline of marketing strategies to capitalize on the positive emotions evoked by the videos.

Want to check out the Stewartville community videos?  Click the links below.

Living in Stewartville

Working in Stewartville

Long Form Video

Upsala, MN Conducts Community Healthcare Needs Survey

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Robert Harris III

Robert Harris, the CEDA representative serving as an Economic Development Consultant for the City of Upsala, MN,  recently provided assistance in creating and distributing a Healthcare Needs Survey to Upsala residents. With an impressive response rate of nearly 50%, the results will aid in the attraction of a healthcare provider to the community. Currently, an assisted living facility is slated for construction in the community with an identified developer. To push the project forward, the developer would like a commitment that a healthcare provider will sign a long-term contract with the facility. At this time there is no healthcare provider in Upsala. Residents have to travel a minimum of 15 miles to see a provider, and a minimum of 22 miles to the nearest hospital. Overall, respondents were enthusiastic about the possibility of bringing a healthcare provider to the city. “Upsala has an incredibly engaged and active citizenry, which contributed to the high overall response rate” said Harris. 

Grand Meadow, MN Receives $6,300 CEDA-Authored SMIF Grant For Civic Engagement Events

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Marty Walsh

The City of Grand Meadow, MN has been awarded $6,300 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) for a series of events to build Civic Engagement. The Grant was written by CEDA’s Marty Walsh, based on input from a public listening session that was held as part of participation in the Greater Minnesota Future’s Project (GMFP). (Grand Meadow applied for and was admitted to the GMFP in partnership with Southern Minnesota Together and the University of Minnesota Design Center last year).

The public meeting and other work undertaken by the GMFP Steering Committee found that Civic Engagement was one of the biggest challenges facing the community, and that while the community is tight knit, there are limited opportunities for newcomers to the community to meet people. Additionally, many people were not aware of how to participate in City boards and commissions. 

The SMIF Grant will pay for three events repeated quarterly throughout one year:

– Newcomers Dinners: Residents new to the community in the last five years will be invited to a free dinner to meet other newcomers and long term residents who have volunteered to welcome new people and families.

– Game Nights: All community residents will be invited to participate, with special invitations extended to seniors and youth. City staff, paid through the grant, will help facilitate conversation and build new relationships.

– Community Grant Nights: These nights will allow the City to leverage funds from the One Time Exemption use of Department of Employment and Economic Development Loan Funds that the City will be converting to general use dollars. The City Council is allocating $20,000 for a citizen led committee to further distribute to Citizen projects that improve the community.

All the events will include updates on various City committees and encourage participation in more community events.

CEDA Created Young Professional Network is Successful in Jackson, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA representative Tom Nelson who serves Jackson, MN led efforts to establish a networking group for young professionals in the Jackson area. This was in response to requests from local employers who asked the economic development office to assist the community in retaining young professionals. Last month, the first event was held, with nearly 40 attendees from local businesses. Nelson explains that the benefit of the Jackson Area Young Professionals Network is that the group provides an environment for people in town to connect.