By Joshua Schuetz
CEDA is working to create an economic development technical assistance grant program for small rural cities in Minnesota. Bills SF2185 and HF2520, currently progressing through the Minnesota Legislature, would provide $627,000 to create and fund a new grant program that will assist these rural cities with the help of CEDA.
If funded, this program would allow CEDA to provide assistance to cities with populations under 3,000 on basic economic development strategies. Many small rural communities lack the budget or staff capacity to take advantage of even the most basic economic development efforts, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. This program will enable CEDA to assist rural cities with specific types of basic development programs tailored to the individual community’s needs, offering up to 150 hours of technical assistance and $15,000 in project funding. The program aims to catalyze entrepreneurship, expand the tax base, create jobs, and raise income in the communities that have the most need.
Chris Giesen, CEDA Vice President, emphasized the importance of legislative relationships in establishing a strong economic development foundation that will yield long-term success for small rural communities.
“We want to thank our bill authors, especially Senators Carla Nelson (Rochester-R) and Jeremy Miller (Winona-R), and Representative Kristi Pursell (Northfield-DFL) as well as other members of the legislature for their support,” Giesen said. “We want to help create a basic platform for rural Minnesota so that they can take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. Metro and greater Minnesota rely on a strong rural Minnesota to keep our economy thriving, and this bill aims to help the small cities that need it most.”
CEDA will be able to assist cities with initiatives such as the creation or rejuvenation of revolving loan funds, commercial exterior improvement grant and loan programs, small business and entrepreneurial incubation, childcare incentives, and business retention and expansion efforts. In addition to receiving technical assistance, cities will be awarded up to $15,000 to ensure that the technical assistance received can be implemented.
Budget constraints in local governments across rural Minnesota have made it challenging for small cities to afford the administration of basic economic development efforts. This program will help close that gap and provide rural Minnesota communities with the ability to create a platform for economic development.
Work could begin on this initiative as early as this summer if funded. The program has the potential to improve the economic development landscape of rural Minnesota communities, creating a brighter future for residents.