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.

Blue Earth Receives Technical Assistance from National Park Service

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Mary Kennedy, CEDA’s representative serving the City of Blue Earth, worked with the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition this summer to apply for technical assistance from the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program through the National Park Service (NPS). Kennedy was recently made aware that the Blue Earth Active Living Coalition’s project was selected to receive the technical assistance beginning this fall. The community will have the opportunity to work with experienced community planners who will assist with setting priorities to develop concept plans for walking and biking path connections within City limits, identify potential funding strategies, and implement actionable short and long-term plans to pursue financial opportunities.

CEDA-Led EDA Meet & Greet engages Mantorville, MN businesses

Article by: Abby Wright

On Oct. 1, Abby Wright, the CEDA representative serving the City of Mantorville, MN EDA, held an EDA Meet & Greet and Live Facebook Demonstration to bring awareness to the EDA as a community resource and give attendees a tool for their marketing efforts.

Wright, who started in Mantorville in January with a two-day-per-month contract, sought a way to introduce herself to many community business owners and organization members at once, while ensuring that the event would benefit them.

Wright says, “I had gone to some Chamber and Stagecoach Days Committee meetings and got the e-mails, and I had talked with the City and some people in the community who use social media to promote community events and their businesses. Several folks did not feel that they could learn the nuances of Facebook on their own, or they felt they couldn’t do certain things on it that they’d like to do. I grew up in the 90s with the emergence and evolution of social media, so I thought, ‘I got this.’”

Wright had co-administered a Federal Facebook page at a former job and currently co-administers the City of Mantorville Facebook page she established in March, which has 348 followers to date.

The Meet & Greet event started with Wright sharing general information on the EDA and with each Boardmember and attendee introducing himself or herself, with board members including how long they had been on the EDA, why they had joined, and what was their day job. Wright had prepared a two-part, Jeopardy-style game to follow, which included matching mission statements to attending organizations and answering Mantorville trivia questions.

“I think people really enjoyed that game,” Wright said, “They were laughing, and they were all shouting out answers at once and engaged, and we all had fun.” Five businesses and organizations were represented: Casey’s, Citizens State Bank of Mantorville, the Mantorville Art Guild, the Mantorville Chamber of Commerce, and Conti Designs currently based out of Rochester.

For the winning organization (no spoilers), Wright will author a press release all about the business on behalf of the EDA; the article will be posted on the City of Mantorville Facebook page in November.

A brief intermission while Wright hooked her computer to a projector allowed attendees to get seconds on refreshments purchased by the EDA, including Casey’s pizza, vegetables and dip from Erdman’s in Kasson, and beverages. Wright then live-demonstrated tips and tricks, step by step, for managing business Facebook pages, and answered questions as they came up.

“Facebook is a free way to interact with target audiences,” she adds, “and it is so common anymore for consumers to find businesses and information on that platform, so I think every business should have a Facebook account and know how to use it effectively.”

Many people who attended expressed that they were surprised they had learned so much and that they appreciated the information and how it was presented. In response to the positive feedback she received, Wright and the Mantorville EDA are considering hosting and presenting a sequence of similar events in the future.

CEDA Team Member Works On New Marketing Brochure Tool for the City of Medford, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy

A new brochure will be in Medford, MN’s tool box soon thanks to CEDA team member Donna Mack, Mayor Nelson, and EDA Board Members Bryan Duncan and Mary Cronin. TriM Graphics of Owatonna, MN is also assisting the group as they undergo the efforts to update the community brochure which was originally created in the 1990s. The brochure will answer frequently asked questions about the community and give people more information on how they can become involved in Medford. The brochure is directed to potential new business owners, new homeowners, visitors, volunteers, the general public and others. 

Mack organized the first meeting leading the group to the decision of the size, tips on designing, target audience, and project budget, as well as designing  the outline and text to assist the group in deciding how the brochure would be organized. As a group, the arrangement of topics were put in a logical sequence fitting it to the general layout of the brochure. 

Some of the ways the brochure will be distributed include attachments to proposals, being left behind when visiting clients, inserts in presentation folders, materials for prospective employers, and shared at meetings, fairs, conferences or seminars. Additionally, the brochure will be in hotels, restaurants, malls and other retail entities. The brochure planning group will make a list of particular places to distribute the brochures, and specific individuals and staff will be responsible for getting the brochures to the locations.

“I am fortunate to be involved with the Medford brochure project as it is a valuable tool for explaining who our community is. A common response when the community of Medford is mentioned in conversation is, ‘Medford is a city? I always thought it was only an outlet mall on the highway!’ The brochure should answer questions, educate our audience, and promote the community,” explains Mack.

This brochure will encourage people to come into the City by providing exceptional education and quality of life information. If you come to Medford you will likely be greeted warmly, neighbors will be happy to give you the scoop on the new school, or where the best grilling meat can be purchased, who the best mechanic is, or where to buy a moderate priced prom or mother of the bride/groom dress. 

Houston County EDA hosts design thinking workshop for DMC to generate tech solutions for persons with disabilities

Article by: Abby Wright and Allison Wagner

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the Houston County Economic Development Authority (EDA) hosted a free workshop at the new La Crescent Area Event Center in La Crescent, MN. The design thinking workshop was third in a series of five-to-seven total that Destination Medical Center (DMC) will present this year throughout Southeast Minnesota.

Design thinking is a group process for creative problem-solving using an empathetic point of view, concept mapping, and experimentation. Thirty-five people attended the workshop on Tuesday evening, coordinated by CEDA Small Cities Development Program Specialist and Houston County EDA Director, Allison Wagner. Participants included Robotics students and educators from La Crescent, Caledonia, and Houston County; area entrepreneurs; and community members.

In the workshop, DMC Designers guided participants through a series of fast-paced, hands-on group exercises to foster and generate ideas for DMC’s Assistive Technology Challenge, a pitch competition to facilitate greater independence for individuals with challenges and disabilities. The Assistive Tech Challenge seeks inventive solutions to alleviate barriers to employment, reduce the need for and/or ease the demands of direct support on care providers, develop social skills that better cultivate meaningful relationships, and improve access to the community through public infrastructure. For more information on the Challenge, visit https://dmc.mn/introducing-the-assistive-tech-challenge/.

Wagner says, “The Houston County EDA hosts a variety of workshops throughout the year, which involves identifying the need and planning ahead, coordinating with the appropriate people, booking the venue, and marketing. This event was especially exciting and worth the preparation because it engaged adults and teenagers to come up with creative solutions for persons with disabilities, several of whom own and staff businesses in Houston County.”

Abby Wright, CEDA Community Grant Specialist and EDA Coordinator in Mantorville, MN, also attended and had, in January, participated in a design thinking workshop at IBM in Rochester with four other CEDA representatives.

Wright says, “Design thinking is sort of a newer, outcomes-focused, collaborative and interactive way of developing ideas, and I think it could be used to work with partners and one another to come up with innovative solutions in our regions, communities, and within our organization. We already have some partners who have recently expressed interest in collaborating with CEDA to brainstorm regional transportation solutions via design thinking. I think there’s a lot of potential to take advantage of this out-of-the-box framework, and I think we do need to always consider people’s daily life challenges in our communities.”

Mural at Hayfield, MN City Pool Nears Completion

This summer, students of Hayfield, MN High School volunteered to paint an astounding aquatic mural at the City’s public pool. 

The mural was sponsored by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) Paint the Town Grant and Ace Hardware. The Hayfield Economic Development Authority (EDA) applied for and was awarded the grant in 2018, but was unable to complete the project due to the continuous rainfall last summer.  CEDA team member Rebecca Charles who serves the Hayfield EDA worked with the High School art department to speak to students and recruit them for the summer project. Liz Fjerstad, Hayfield Elementary School Music Teacher, volunteered to be the project’s organizer and had been overseeing the project’s progression.

“The City is excited to share the results of the hard work of these students and volunteers with the community” says Charles.  “There is already additional discussion to expand the mural in a similar manner over the coming summers.”

Over 30 volunteers worked on the mural during the months of July and August of this summer.

CEDA Helps Montevideo, MN Host Childcare Provider Appreciation Gathering

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA representative Alek Schulz, who serves the City of Montevideo, partnered with Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to organize a Childcare Appreciation Gathering for childcare providers in Montevideo, Minnesota. On October 7th, 14 providers, representing the local childcare center, as well as in-home child care settings came together for the event. “My main goal in organizing this event was to get local providers together to thank them for their work, and in my opinion that was a success,” said Schulz about the event. The event allowed providers a place to gather and discuss issues they face and obstacles to overcome that lead to running a thriving child care business. “This event opened up the lines of communication that we need to help current providers, and hopefully will set up a good way for new providers to learn from those already in business,” Schulz explained.