CEDA Continues to Adapt to Provide Virtual Assistance

Article by: Zach Bubany

CEDA is very involved with its communities and business owners, especially during this COVID-19 crisis. Here are just a couple of recent examples to illustrate ways that our team is working hard to serve small communities and businesses virtually:

Emily Legel, a Community and Business Development Specialist at CEDA, is just one of many examples of how CEDA and its members are doing everything possible to assist communities and businesses during this challenging time. Legel serves Northwest Illinois Economic Development. She is helping communities and businesses through a virtual outreach initiative that includes virtual “coffee breaks” and webinars. These resources allow business owners to receive the latest updates and information on various subjects, some of which include but are not limited to: financial assistance programs, local funding tools, and changing guidelines on the COVID-19 crisis. Legel’s work is ensuring that communities and businesses have tools to plan and implement necessary actions to keep business operations running as smoothly as possible during this pandemic.

Mary Kennedy, CEDA’s Director of Training and Professional Development, is also a prime example of CEDA’s commitment to its businesses. Kennedy sent out a survey to as many businesses as she could in Blue Earth, MN to better understand the economic impacts of COVID-19 and how her community could best take effective action. “We just wanted to get a feeling for how they were doing and if they needed assistance” Kennedy said. Some questions on the survey included, but were not limited to: [What are] the top factors that have impacted your operations?, and do you feel that you have access to information you need regarding programs from the federal and state government? From the responses, Kennedy learned that she should focus on helping businesses combat the effects of COVID-19 through grant writing, loan applications, strategic planning, and more.

Many other CEDA members took Kennedy’s survey and used it in their own communities to get a feel of their businesses’ status and needs.

SCSC & CEDA Work Together to Connect Businesses and Schools

Article by: Emily Davis

CEDA and the South Central Service Coop have teamed up to bring a Community Workforce Coordinator to serve the Blue Earth Area and United South Central school districts.

Emily Davis has joined the CEDA team at the end of April to fill the role. Her task will be to establish and grow relationships between the school districts and area businesses to provide students unique learning opportunities and more hands-on experiences. Davis will be working with the CTE (Career and Technical Education) teachers at each school to establish the best practices to utilize relationships for career exploration for the students. “I am excited to be in this new role and help students discover careers that they are passionate about,” Davis said. “I am also excited to see all of the creative ideas that will come out of the partnerships that already are established or that will be established.”

Career exploration has been a top priority for both districts, and by partnering with CEDA, the districts have committed to giving students more opportunities for not only career exploration but also different learning experiences that may not have otherwise been provided.

CEDA Helps Preston, MN Launch New Assistance Program in Collaboration with Community Businesses and Organizations

Article by: Cathy Enerson

In response to the shut down and slow down of local businesses, on April 6, 2020, the Preston Economic Development Authority (EDA) announced their COVID-19 Emergency Economic Development Loan Program.  According to CEDA team member Cathy Enerson, serving as the Preston EDA Director, “the loans will be used to provide assistance directly to small local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic event. The up to $3,000 loan is intended to be interim financial aid to help keep businesses operating and a part of the tax base once the pandemic is over”.  The loan terms provide for 0% interest and repayment over five years. Loan payments are paid by the lender directly to the tax assessor or utility providers.  These payments sunset December of 2020. Applicant loan repayments begin January 2021.   In an effort to enhance the program and to help businesses located within the City of Preston, the Preston Area Community Foundation (PACF) and F & M Community Bank (F & M) together added $10,000 to the $30,000 loan program fund for a total loan fund of $40,000.  Those dollars are to be used by the EDA to forgive 25% of the loan which a business takes out through the loan program.  For example, if a business borrows the maximum $3,000, they will only need to pay back $2,250 of that.

Funding for the loan program was supported by a grant to the Preston Area Community Foundation in the amount of $5,000 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).  Mary Schwarz, the current chair of the PACF board, said, “We saw the need in the community as well as the opportunity to support the community by partnering with SMIF to provide some funds for the EDA loan program.  It’s times like this when a local foundation like PACF can make a meaningful impact.”

When Dan Christianson, CEO of F & M learned about the loan program and the grant through PACF’s, he decided F&M could help as well.  “Supporting the Preston business community and PACF is something we’ve made a priority for many years”, stated Christianson.  “So we decided we would contribute $3,300 to the EDA fund to help with the forgiveness portion of the loan program.  In addition, we will make a donation to PACF in the amount of $1,700 to cover their portion of the program.  This will allow the PACF to maintain their fund balances for future opportunities like this.”

The EDA has received seven applications for the Local Emergency Loan.  Additional loan funds are still available on a first come, first served basis.

CEDA Helps Secure Grant Funding for Emergency Costs Related COVID-19 in Harmony, MN

Article by: Chris Giesen

The Harmony Ambulance Service was able to secure $22,594 from the Minnesota Department of Health through its COVID-19 Health Care Response Grant program with the help of CEDA vice president Chris Giesen, who is the CEDA team member assigned to Harmony.  This program was 100% grant, without a match requirement, and will provide the Harmony Ambulance Service with the ability to purchase additional personal protection equipment (PPE) and provide hazard pay to volunteer crew members to help compensate for the additional work, training, and risk associated with responding to emergencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Giesen assisted ambulance director Eileen Schansberg with completing the application. With detailed information on department needs from the ambulance director, we were able to put this application together pretty quickly.  Harmony also received their award notice pretty quickly, too. Volunteer emergency response crews are doing more now than ever so being able to help them get additional compensation and making sure they are well equipped with PPE- well, it was a good feeling to be able to help Harmony’s first responders.

Mantorville, MN Receives Festival Support for Stagecoach Days From CEDA-Authored SEMAC Grant

Article by: Abby Wright

Every year, the community of Historic Mantorville, MN celebrates its heritage as a Western, Victorian frontier town and Minnesota’s history as the 32nd state in the United States and the first to volunteer troops for the Union cause in the Civil War. Stagecoach Days, a two-day event, offers interactive games and activities for residents and visitors of all ages, in addition to contests, an array of vendors and refreshments, and free, live performances by Minnesota-grown artists, musicians, actors/re-enactors, and story-tellers.

In April, CEDA Community Grant Specialist, Abby Wright, authored a successful Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) Small Towns/Rural Areas grant to help fund Stagecoach Days 2020, which was to debut a fiddle contest, rides in an authentic stagecoach, and Teddy Roosevelt actors and props.

Stagecoach Days is one of Mantorville’s largest annual events and community efforts. The festival is well-attended at an estimated 1,200 people over the two days, and the new additions will keep Stagecoach Days fun and fresh.

The $1,380 SEMAC award follows a $470 micro-grant award from the Minnesota State Fiddlers Association (MSFA), which Wright authored in February on behalf of the Mantorville Stagecoach Days Committee. The MSFA grant will fund about half of the total cost of the fiddle contest.

Stagecoach Days 2020 has been cancelled, but both SEMAC and the MSFA are retaining the grant awards for the next Stagecoach Days, which will take place the last weekend in June 2021.

CEDA Team in Cresco, IA Assists in Delivering Over 800 masks to Employees in the Community

Article by: Howard County Business and Tourism

While states and counties continue to prepare to reopen or start the reopening process, we understand businesses and customers want to take small steps to ensure everyone’s safety.  That’s why CEDA’s team at Howard County Business & Tourism teamed up with the City of Cresco, IA to do just that!  In an effort to outfit the Cresco businesses, namely retail and restaurants, uniform looking masks were created using two local businesses and a multitude of sewing volunteers with the words “Cresco Cares” printed on top.

“We wanted to be pro-active as we encourage customers and visitors to come to Howard County”, noted CEDA team member, Jason Passmore. “Partnering with the City of Cresco, we’ve handed out over 800 Cresco Cares masks to employees.” Cresco businesses want you to feel safe while shopping, and that’s what the Cresco Cares effort is all about.

A second opportunity presented itself during the mask making process, and that was when Fareway stepped to the plate, and through a simple grant application, donated $3,000 in gift cards to Cresco Chamber businesses.  CEDA staff at HCBT and the Cresco Chamber then had the honor to deliver both masks and $50 gift cards to local businesses, assisting in a small way to the COVID-19 recovery.


CEDA is excited to announce two promotions of team members Courtney Bergey Swanson and Mary Kennedy to new roles within the organization.

CEDA is excited to announce two promotions of team members Courtney Bergey Swanson and Mary
Kennedy to new roles within the organization.

Courtney Bergey Swanson has been promoted to CEDA Vice President of Development and
Collaborative Services and will serve on the CEDA Management Team along with Ron Zeigler,
CEO/President; Cris Gastner, Senior Vice President; Chris Giesen, Vice President Government Relations;
Jason Passmore, Vice President of Iowa Operations; and Joya Stetson, Vice President of Marketing and
Business Development.

“We could not be more excited to have Courtney join our management team,” says CEDA
President/CEO Ron Zeigler. “Courtney has taken everything that we have asked of her to a new level.
She has taken the role of Director of Community Engagement and has led the grants department to a
very high level of success.” Bergey Swanson will continue to lead the grants department, coordinating
efforts for CEDA and communities. Her role will expand into developing strategic partnerships and
representing CEDA in relevant collaborative efforts. Bergey Swanson joined the CEDA team in 2016.
Mary Kennedy will join the CEDA Leadership Team in the capacity of CEDA Director of Training and
Professional Development.

“We are extremely excited to have Mary join our leadership team,” Zeigler states. “Mary has taken on
the role of training for our team. She is building a structure for onboarding new team members and has
renewed the priority of training and professional development within the organization.” Kennedy joined
the CEDA team in 2018.

Zeigler continues, “CEDA’s greatest resource is our team members. We have 30 self-motivated, high-
energy, professional people with a passion for rural America working with and for you. Together we
can make a difference.”

CEDA Team Member assists with 55-Unit Apartment Project in Stewartville, MN

Article by: Heather Holmes

The City of Stewartville, MN and developer PGGM1, LLC officially kicked off the construction of a new apartment complex, Flats 55, across from Bear Cave Intermediate School in April.

CEDA team member Heather Holmes, who serves the City of Stewartville as Housing and Recreation Director, worked with the City, the developer and consultant Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates, Inc. to craft an agreement that provided up front funding to ensure the project could occur.

“It’s no secret there is a housing shortage,” says Bill Schimmel Jr., Stewartville City Administrator. “Flats 55 will provide much needed housing for new families and ultimately result in additional local economic activity that will benefit our community.”

The 73,000 sq. ft., 4-story building will sit on a parcel located on 17.5 acres of land purchased for the development of housing in Stewartville. Flats 55 will include 55 market rate one and two bedroom units and include both underground and surface lot parking. The developer hopes to complete construction by spring of 2021.

CEDA Team Member Helps Kasson, MN EDA Create COVID-19 Relief Program to be Layered with SBA, DEED Programs

Article by: Nicholas Ouellette

The Kasson Economic Development Authority (EDA) recently established the Short-Term Business Interruption Loan Program (STBIL) in response to the adverse effects COVID-19 has had on the local economy. Over the last month, the Kasson EDA discussed what they could do to assist businesses that have applied to Federal and State relief programs but were waiting to receive approval or funds. Earlier this year, the EDA had established and funded a new Revolving Loan Fund which serves as a source of gap financing for local businesses looking to startup or expand. The Board recognized the Revolving Loan Funds could be used to provide more immediate assistance to local businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. In order to move forward with the proposed program, the EDA surveyed a number of local businesses; those businesses that had been directly impacted by COVID-19 indicated an interest for loans through this type of program.

CEDA team member and Kasson EDA Staff  Nicholas Ouellette generated a separate set of guidelines under the umbrella of the Revolving Loan Fund Program which outlines the terms and eligibility for the STBIL program. The intent of the program is not to be a primary source of relief funds for businesses, but to be layered with existing support programs such as SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Applicants must demonstrate they have applied for funds through the PPP, EIDL, or similar programs. The STBIL program provides 0% interest loans to businesses based on their fixed costs from February 2020, and funds are to be used for rent, leases, mortgages, utility bills, and employee salaries. Loans will be repaid at $100 a month and payments are deferred six months.

The program has been well received by the community, with multiple applications submitted to the EDA. The Loan Review Committee plans to meet at the end of each week to review and process applications. The EDA hopes this program will provide a positive boost to local businesses while they work through State and Federal relief applications.


Blue Earth Receives $400,000 CEDA-Authored Grant from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency

Article by: Mary Kennedy

CEDA representatives Annie Leibel and Mary Kennedy, who serve Faribault County and the City of Blue Earth respectively, worked together to write a grant request to Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA). The duo recently heard the exciting news that their request for $400,000 had been secured to assist in funding a 14-unit scattered-site, multi-family housing development project in the City of Blue Earth. The project, which has been in the planning phases for nearly a year, is scheduled to break ground sometime this spring. “The project has some really unique elements, which was at times is difficult to convey in the grant narrative. MHFA was great to work with and communicated with us to fully understand the complexities and details of our project,” said Kennedy. The developer of the project, APX Construction Group of Mankato, MN will be financing, and owning six of the 14 units, while the Blue Earth Housing and Redevelopment Authority will be financing and owning eight of the 14 units. This project has been a collaboration from the beginning; starting by taking findings from a 2019 housing study to attract a developer, to working with the developer to financially make the project feasible for both parties. New housing has been a top priority for the City Council and Blue Earth residents, and it can be difficult to finance a housing project that doesn’t negatively impact taxpayers. Leibel explained “the Workforce Housing Grant will supplement the capital needed to build out this project without any impact to tax payers, and will provide new, market rate housing for residents.” The project features a mix of rental and owner-occupied units, with a variety of amenities, and a range of price points to help accommodate any budget. The City expects the new housing options to be available for rent or purchase this fall.