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



CEDA Communities Represented at 2017 Bio International Convention in San Diego, CA

Article by: Joya Stetson

The Bio International Convention (Bio) attracts 16,000+ biotechnology and pharma leaders from a wide spectrum of life science and application areas including drug discovery, biomanufacturing, genomics, biofuels, nanotechnology and cell therapy.

CEDA was present for the second consecutive year, thanks to generous support from Steele Waseca Cooperative Electric. CEDA Senior Vice President Cris Gastner noted that the conference was an incredibly valuable experience. “Representing and promoting our communities was priority number one,” Gastner explained. “The conversations that we had at the event confirmed that the areas we serve offer serious opportunities for emerging and expanding biotech businesses.”

CEDA staff had productive and informative conversations with several attendees and exhibitors.  They were able to connect with representatives from other state and regional governments; contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs); healthcare advocates; large, established corporations and small startups.

We look forward to representing our communities at Bio again in 2018.

CEDA’s 2017 Regional Development Tour Successfully Promotes Four Communities

Thank you to all of the attendees and sponsors of the 2017 Regional Development Tour (RDT).  Our June 15 event was highly successful thanks to all of you!

The RDT is a collaborative, annual event hosted by CEDA and Journey to Growth (J2G) designed to promote awareness of opportunities in regional communities. Attendees board a luxury Rochester City Lines bus for an afternoon of exploration and information.

This year, a bus full of professionals interested in regional development went through four Minnesota communities: Chatfield, Lewiston, St. Charles, and Eyota.

CEDA is already hearing about conversations and potential projects associated with connections made from the tour.

Attendees were excited about the experience and expressed enthusiasm for next year’s event.

Title Sponsors: Rochester City Lines, Rochester International Airport, Widseth Smith Nolting, People’s Energy Cooperative, Dairyland Power Cooperative, MiEnergy Cooperative, Ayars and Ayars

Supporting Sponsors: Steele Waseca Cooperative Electric, Mississippi Welders Supply

Two CEDA Authored Small Cities Development Program Grants Awarded for 2017!

Article by Michelle Vrieze

On June 29th the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced the 2017 Minnesota Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grants that received funding, pending an expected award from HUD (Housing and Urban Development).

The City of Houston was approved for $942,900, of which $600,000 is for a water treatment plant, with the remainder of funds to be used for housing rehab.

The City of Dodge Center was approved to receive $278,300 in grant funds to rehab 11 single family homes for low-to-moderate income households.

These SCDP grant applications were authored by CEDA staff who will also administer them for the appropriate cities.

Stewartville, MN Receives $9,000 SMIF Grant for New Business Incubation Program

Article by: Joya Stetson

The Stewartville, MN Economic Development (EDA) was recently notified that they have been awarded a $9,000 Incentive Grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).  Joya Stetson, the CEDA team member serving the City of Stewartville, successfully authored the grant for the implementation of a new business incubation program that the City’s EDA is launching this summer.

The new and exciting program will encourage the creation and support of new for-profit businesses that contribute to a sustainable and diverse business climate within the City’s business/commercial districts. The program will provide business owners with CEDA coordinated education and tools to promote long-term success while filling currently vacant commercial properties in Stewartville.  Although the EDA will not have a central incubation space, the provision of rental assistance over 18 months is expected to aid startup success rates.

New businesses leasing eligible, vacant properties may receive rental assistance at a decreasing rate for 18 months in accordance with the following scale: Months 1-6: 50% subsidy or $830/month max; Months 7-12: 33% subsidy or $560/month max; Months 13-18: 17% subsidy or $275/month max.

A series of entrepreneurial educational classes will be mandated for participants and will be open for existing businesses to attend as desired free of charge. The following 90-minute courses will be mandatory for participants in the program: Business Planning and Financial Projections (Prerequisite), Market Research, Pricing and Inventory, Marketing Strategies, Customer Service and Business Etiquette, Online Marketing, Websites and Social Media, Basic Bookkeeping, and Legal Considerations for Small Businesses. All courses will be coordinated by CEDA Senior Vice President and Small Business Development Center Counselor Cris Gastner.

Businesses accepted into the program will also be required to participate in quarterly meetings with open financials and to deliver a public presentation after one year outlining challenges, achievements, and plans for future sustainability.

The generous grant from SMIF will allow the City to fully commence the program and leverage resources to maximize benefits to the businesses and the community as a whole.

“[The City] is pleased to offer this tool as a part of our economic development efforts,” said Mayor Jimmie-John King. “We understand how difficult the first year of business can be, and are hopeful that the assistance being offered here will be advantageous for new businesses locating to our community.”

CEDA Welcomes Kasson, MN and Goodhue, MN

CEDA is happy to announce that the team will now be serving the City of Kasson, MN and the City of Goodhue, MN as a part of the organization’s Community Support Program.

CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist Rebecca Charles began work in Kasson in May.  “Kasson is a great community that prioritizes quality of life for its businesses and residents,” Charles stated. “I feel lucky to be a part of the research, planning and program administration that will lead to even more success for the City!”

The City of Goodhue, MN will begin its contract with CEDA this June.  CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist Donna Mack will be leading the organization’s efforts there.  “We’re really looking forward to working with the City of Goodhue,” said CEDA Senior Vice President Cris Gastner. “The community has so many exciting opportunities on the horizon; I cannot wait to see the progress we will make together!”

We look forward to working with both communities for the duration of 2017 and beyond!

Spring Grove Pilot Program Reflects on a Successful Year

Article by: Courtney Bergey

The City of Spring Grove recently extended its contract with CEDA to continue the Spring Grove Pilot Program, which began in July 2016. This new model vastly increased the City’s investment in economic development, moving from a one-day-per-week contract to four days a week. The program utilizes a team of CEDA staff working both in the community and remotely.

In the past year of the Pilot Program, the City of Spring Grove, MN (pop. 1,300) has seen visible improvements in the community. An 80-slot, state-of-the-art daycare opened last fall, five businesses have moved into the downtown district, and the EDA recently received an award letter for a $417,000 BDPI grant. The grant funds will be used to extend sewer to the undeveloped industrial park where the iconic local business Spring Grove Soda Pop plans to build a new 25,000 sq ft facility. 

“Our investment in CEDA has laid the groundwork for many exciting projects in Spring Grove, and we are excited to continue our partnership,” said Mayor Sarah Schroeder. “Many of these advancements would not have been possible without CEDA’s work in the community.”