CEDA Team Member Proposes a New, Interactive Map to Catalyze Tourism and Recreational Activity in Fillmore County

Article by: Marty Walsh

A new map being developed by the Fillmore County EDA aims to increase exposure to the county’s many outdoor recreation amenities for tourists and residents alike.

The new map, which is planned to be available on-line in time for Spring outdoors season, will allow users to see whatever combination of recreational activities they are interested in by turning off and on different layers of data. Currently, there is no map that combines the many Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, County, Municipal and Private recreational opportunities in one place.

The Project was suggested by Marty Walsh, who serves the Fillmore County EDA, and is being developed in partnership with the County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coordinator, Danea Murphy, as well as assistance from Graduate Students from the St. Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona) GIS Department.

“This map will fill a void we have in our county. The map will be a great tool for our residents and visitors to enjoy recreation they may not have known existed” said Lanesboro Mayor Autumn Johnson, when discussing the value the map brings to both tourism and quality of life in the county.

As the project is developed, CEDA hopes the model can be used to highlight the recreational amenities in many of the communities that the organization serves.


Article by: Megan DeRouchey

On November 21, 2017, AcenTek, the voice, video and internet provider out of Houston, MN, was awarded a $2 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to extend fiber broadband access to Rushford Village and the rural Rushford area. The CEDA grant writing team was able to play an instrumental role in securing this funding by drafting AcenTek’s Boarder to Boarder Broadband Grant application. CEDA utilized their grant writing services to facilitate a valuable partnership between CEDA staff members and AcenTek.

The total grant dollar amount awarded was $2,011,628.  Last year, CEDA partnered with AcenTek and was awarded $1.78 million to bring fiber-optic cable to the Lanesboro area.  To-date, the $2 million dollar grant has been the largest grant written by CEDA.

The Rushford Village/rural Rushford project was the second largest grant awarded by the state to improve broadband services. This project will allow AcenTek to extend fiber broadband services to the rural Rushford area.  AcenTek’s project is a great example of a public-private partnership–the State of Minnesota is contributing $2,011,628, Fillmore County is providing a 0% interest loan in the amount of $75,000, and AcenTek is picking up the remaining $3 million through private investment, for a total project investment of $5.2 million. This project is expected to be completed by mid-2019.

This project will serve 557 unserved and underserved homes and businesses in the Rushford Village/Rural Rushford exchange in Fillmore County.  With fiber optic cable installation, rural Rushford will see many advancements in medicine, education, and agriculture. These three industries impact nearly every home in rural Rushford and Rushford Village.


Stewartville, MN Provides Assistance for New Childcare Center

Krystal and Patrick Campbell of Sprouts Childcare and Early Education Center, LLC are moving forward with a project that will involve the construction of a 7,500 square foot child care center building in Stewartville, Minnesota’s Schumann Business Park. The center will have capacity for 99 children including 16 infant openings.  The project will also involve the immediate creation of 15 full-time positions in the community.

At the beginning of 2017, CEDA team member Joya Stetson who serves the Stewartville EDA worked closely with community boards/organizations and local businesses to understand the expanding childcare needs of the growing community.  The group initiated a survey that was distributed City-wide in addition to hosting a public forum which allowed residents, childcare providers, and support organizations to come together and discuss current demand as well as potential action items.  Following this forum, discussions began with current in-home provider Krystal Campbell who has since finalized plans for her new center.

The City of Stewartville and its EDA have been supportive of the project, and have found ways to provide assistance.  City Council and the EDA have unanimously approved a $50,000 low-interest loan for Sprouts Childcare and Early Education Center, LLC. People’s Energy Cooperative, the electric utility provider for the City, was also a major factor in this project’s development with the provision of a $125,000 loan.

Stewartville City Council has approved a purchase agreement with the Campbells for the land in the Schumann Business Park.  The closing date is set for on or before February 1, 2018 with an anticipated opening date in Fall of 2018.

“The City is excited about this project,” said Mayor Jimmie-John King. “Although we have many excellent providers offering child care services in our community, there is still significant demand for more capacity.  This new center will supplement the existing, high-quality services and assist our residents and businesses by offering additional, needed childcare slots.”

CEDA helps Chatfield secure $177,000 BDPI grant and 0%, $300,000 financing from MiEnergy

Article by: Chris Giesen

The City of Chatfield with the help of CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen recently secured a $177,000 Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant from Minnesota DEED to help pave Industrial Drive in southwest Chatfield, one of the last gravel road sections in the city, which will support an expansion at one of Tuohy Furniture’s manufacturing facilities.  While not covered by the grant, this project also gave the city the opportunity to improve water and sewer services to 9 commercial lots in order to make them developable.


While Giesen was speaking about this development opportunity on CEDA’s annual Regional Development Tour this past June the project caught the attention of tour participant Pat Boyle of MiEnergy, one of Chatfield’s electric cooperatives.  At the time of the Regional Development Tour, the city had not made a decision on whether to move forward with the improvement project or not.  Giesen explained to the tour group that it would be a very costly project – which is why the roadway had remained gravel for so many years.  At the reception after the tour Boyle mentioned to Giesen that MiEnergy Cooperative might be able to help with zero percent financing through one of their revolving loan programs.  Giesen and Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young met with Boyle a few days later to discuss the loan program and the application process and quickly realized it was a fit.


Giesen applied for the MiEnergy loan and was approved for $300,000 at 0% interest for 10 years, which is estimated to save Chatfield taxpayers $40,000-$50,000 dollars in interest expenses.  “Pat and MiEnergy were great to work with” said Giesen, “this loan will allow the city to not only improve the roadway but also improve water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer and allow us to have 9 additional commercial lots to market and sell.  MiEnergy’s assistance will also help support the surrounding residential neighborhood.  We are looking forward to utilizing their loan program again on future projects.”


Construction started after Labor Day and should be driveable by winter, with the project being finished in early summer 2018.


CEDA Celebrates Manufacturing in SE MN

Manufacturing is being celebrated around the nation during the month of October. Many communities promote tours as an opportunity for individuals to understand the high-tech and innovative work environments that these organizations provide.

Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) partnered with the State of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and Journey To Growth (J2G) to host tours of manufacturing facilities in four communities throughout southeastern Minnesota: Stewartville, Rochester, Blooming Prairie and Caledonia. 

Education professionals, elected officials, and media personnel were encouraged to attend one or more of these tours which consisted of a brief appreciation ceremony including presentation of certificates from the Governor’s office by an official from DEED as well as a guided tour at each company.  Participants were asked to share their experience through photos, videos, streaming, blogging or other means of communication.

Because Minnesota is so well represented by the manufacturing industry sector, this event was a meaningful and important way to expose educators and elected officials to the diverse, impressive, abundant and valuable career opportunities that exist in manufacturing.

CEDA Community Hosts 30,000 Visitors

Article by: Jason Passmore

RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), the largest bike ride in the world, stayed overnight in Cresco, July 27th after stopping in Protivin.  The work by CEDA team members serving Howard County Business & Tourism was instrumental in working with the event that brings riders in from every U.S. state and over 30 countries. With 187 planning days, 21 committees with 110 members, and even more volunteers, Cresco put on a show that delighted riders of all ages.

VIPs; Lance Armstrong (bicyclist), Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR), Matt Kenseth (NASCAR), and Matt Dungey (Motocross/Supercross) not only stayed overnight in Cresco, but visited with riders, fans, and residents. Lance Armstrong even played the drums during the evening’s entertainment!

Riding isn’t the only activity on RAGBRAI. Variety-The Children’s Charity gave away 40 bikes, helmets, and locks to some lucky children in Cresco. The Chicago Urban Bicycling Society held an auction in Cresco raising over $7,000 for Camp Courageous in Iowa. Over 400 riders took the shuttle in Protivin to visit the Norman Borlaug Boyhood Farm. Over 500 riders “showered with a pig” at the Ag Education Center and got to hold baby pigs and learn about this unique bio-secure facility.

The economic impact of one day of RAGBRAI is substantial. On the local level, restaurants, food vendors, non-profits, churches and retailers had a great day in Cresco and Protivin.


CEDA Announces the Expansion of its Grant Writing Department

Article By: Cris Gastner

In the early Eighties, the Southeastern MN Development Corporation (now CEDA) was formed as a grant writing company assisting small rural communities with applying for and administering Small Cities Development Block grants. Over its existence, CEDA has successfully authored over $42 million in grant funding for its communities.

Over the last several years, the grant writing efforts for the organization have been led by CEDA’s Director of Grants, Michelle Vrieze. With Michelle’s work, CEDA has remained extremely successful with the Small Cities Development Block Grant program.  With the large amount of time and work required by this program along with the development of many new programs, CEDA has decided to expand its grant writing department.

In July, CEDA welcomed Megan DeRouchey to the team as the Assistant Director of Grants. Megan joins the team after relocating from South Dakota where she worked for the South Dakota Wheat Growers Association. She has a passion for rural communities and is excited to find new ways to help them thrive.

“We are very excited to get Megan started in this new role, her passion for rural America has her eager to help them in any way she and we can.” says CEDA President Ron Zeigler “We think expanding our grants department will allow us to continue the consistency and success that we have with the Small Cities program and carry it forward into many other new programs as well for our communities.”

City of Blooming Prairie, MN Assists Bunkies Grille and Lanes Make Repairs With a Lasting Impact

Article by: Tom Monson

CEDA team member Tom Monson, who serves the City of Blooming Prairie, has been working alongside his Economic Development Authority board and staff to assist long-time Blooming Prairie business; Bunkies Grille & Lanes make much-needed roof repairs.

The business, which has been owned and operated by the Ressler family in Blooming Prairie since 1947, is a four lane bowling alley, diner and home of the popular “Bunkie Burger,” and historic barn located on Main Street. The business was purchased by Aaron Ressler from his brother Mike in 2014. Ressler moved back to Blooming Prairie from Aruba, bringing with his experience as a PGA professional golfer and high-end golf club manager. Purchasing the neighboring storefronts, Bunkies Grille & Lanes expanded to add an indoor golf simulator providing winter golf leagues and lessons.

One-third of the 70-year old bowling alley rolls into the historic barn, which has a severely deteriorated roof. The dilapidation of the barn roof threatens the functionality of the bowling alley. The project was estimated at $80,000, of which $30,000 was secured through owner equity. Blooming Prairie EDA was able to lend$30,000 of its USDA RD Intermediary Relending Program and $20,000 of its Small Cities Commercial Revolving Loan Fund to fill in necessary gaps in project financing.

“I enjoy projects that can help our Main Street businesses. The Ressler family is a joy to work with and I’m glad to help their bowling alley and golf simulator stay in operation for another 70 years,” said Tom Monson who serves the City of Blooming Prairie. “This project wouldn’t have happened without the city’s assistance, so I’m proud to help protect one of our small businesses.”

The owner of Bunkies Grille & Lanes is excited about the investment in their buildings with repairing the roof of the historic barn. He expressed the hope that the project will help protect the business for years to come and retain all 4 positions, allowing for future expansion and service to Blooming Prairie residents.

Lake City EDA Takes Action to Address Child Care Gap in the Community

Article by: Lisa Babington

The Lake City Economic Development Authority (EDA) has been working on documenting and addressing the child care gap in Lake City and the surrounding counties. After completing research on the need, discussing the findings with many community groups, connecting with county licensors and visiting area child care centers, the EDA has taken the first of a few steps to address the challenge.

Partnering with Families First and the Goodhue and Wabasha County family care licensors, the EDA held information sessions to attract new family providers to open a business. Lake City is also working with First Children’s Finance through a consulting project to create tools and templates that can ultimately help not only Lake City but other communities address child care needs.

First Children’s Finance has committed to provide consulting services to 1) create a financial pro forma designed to determine the feasibility of a child care center in Lake City, 2) develop an RFP for a child care center, and 3) gather information on the process and benefits to licensing a family day care provider in a business location. In addition, First Children’s Finance was able to validate the EDA’s analysis of the child care gap using a different methodology, confirming the significance of the work to be undertaken.

CEDA Team Helps to Secure $150,000 in Gap Financing for Expansion of Important Stewartville Business

CEDA team members Joya Stetson and Courtney Bergey, who serve the City of Stewartville, MN and People’s Energy Cooperative respectively, have been working alongside their boards and staff to help the long-time Stewartville business, Podein’s Power Equipment, accomplish an exciting expansion.

The business, which has been operating in Stewartville since 1984, was looking to connect two of their buildings in an effort to create additional show room and shop space.  Their existing layout did not allow adequate space for equipment displays on the floor for viewing and purchase by consumers.  This limitation restricted potential growth and income for the family-owned business. Further, the owners were hoping to improve the interior and exterior aesthetics of the Main Street buildings with the completion of this project.

The total project cost was estimated at nearly $480,000, of which Podein’s Power Equipment secured $330,000 of traditional financing through First State Bank. Stewartville’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) assisted with a low-interest loan for $50,000, and People’s Energy Cooperative was able to fill the remaining gap financing needs of $100,000.

“It is incredibly fulfilling to see small businesses like Podein’s Power Equipment thriving,” said Joya Stetson who serves the City of Stewartville. “I am proud to play even a small role in the necessary and inspiring collaborations that make projects like this happen!”

The owners of Podein’s Power Equipment are excited about making an investment in their buildings with the connection and addition this project entails, and they expressed the hope that the project will not only increase tax base for the community, but also will retain all 8 FTE positions and allow for future expansion and addition of future jobs.

Mark and Mike Podein pose with Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King and City Admin Bill Schimmel along with People’s Energy Cooperative’s Gwen Stevens