April 2021
The month of April has been a challenging time, not only for Minnesotans, but across the United States. The death of Daunte Wright, as well as so many others, due to systematic racism serve as a stark reminder that we cannot tolerate injustices going unpunished. The conviction of Derek Chauvin was a step in the right direction towards racial justice however there is till so much more work to be done.

Everyone at Region Nine stands in solidarity with our Black community and all those who demand change and justice for all victims of systemic racism. We as an organization are committed to learning from past mistakes and move forward with the right mindset, to not only be more diverse as a whole, but intentionally inclusive and equitable. We take this mindset not only within our organization but with the communities we serve as well, and recognize that we too have been part of our societal and systematic oppression. With that knowledge, Region Nine is taking corrective measures within our organization so that we can continue to learn and grow towards a more equitable society.

George Floyd. Daunte Wright. Continue to say their names and recognize the injustice that has occurred so that we can move toward a future where such loss will not continue to happen. Together we can work to create an equitable and just future for all. Help Region Nine drive change for a better tomorrow by continuing the conversation and supporting one another. Region Nine encourages community members to reach out to staff to explore new projects and initiatives, connect with available resources, and to continue learning and having conversations around justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Corree Johnson Stamschror
Communications Specialist
Marjorie Zoe Negrón Muñoz
Rural Equity Specialist
Region Nine Receives USDA Grant
Region Nine was awarded $290,553 by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to support local foods and historically underserved farmers in the region through a variety of activities. NRCS defines historically underserved farmers as those with limited resources (gross farm sales and household income below a certain threshold), beginning farmers (farmers who have operated a farm for 10 consecutive years or less), socially disadvantaged farmers (people whose groups have been subject to racial or ethnic prejudice), and veteran farmers (obtained veteran status from the US Military in the last 10 years and have not operated a farm for more than 10 consecutive years).
The project’s objectives include identifying and integrating 25 historically underserved farmers into Region Nine’s Growers’ Network, a group of food producers that meets monthly to exchange ideas, network, and help one another identify solutions to problems they face as small farmers. The grant will also be used to educate various funders on the need for financial assistance to historically underserved farmers and connecting those aforementioned farmers to funding opportunities.
In partnership with the Growers’ Network, the Living Earth Center, and the Sustainable Farming Association – Minnesota Chapter, the grant will also provide starter farming plots and training about sustainable farming and soil health to new farmers. The grant will also provide scholarship opportunities for farmers in the Growers’ Network to attend conferences and gain additional training.
The grant will also fund efforts to connect local food producers with grocery store food buyers, Latinx and Somali grocers, school districts, and local food co-ops. Additionally, the grant will further promote local foods and increase awareness about farm retail sites and ecosystem benefits by partnering with restaurants across the region for weekly “Farm-to-Table” days.
The grant also seeks to increase purchases and use of lesser-known produce and culturally specific foods grown in the region through “How-to” video cooking demonstrations (e.g. What to do with a Kohlrabi, What to do with Collard Greens, or How to Use Cilantro).
Region Nine Seeks Input for the CEDS
Region Nine is in the process of developing its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), a document that will serve as a tool to guide regional economic development efforts for the next five years. In order to create a CEDS that truly reflects the needs and priorities of the region, we would like to get as much feedback as possible from residents and business owners. Please take a few minutes to participate in this survey.
Seeking Applications for Prosperity Initiative
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is recruiting businesses for a new cohort of its Prosperity Initiative. Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who own or want to start a business in SMIF’s 20-county region are encouraged to apply.
The Prosperity Initiative provides directed, culturally sensitive programming, while also creating a unified and coordinated resource structure, informing partners of best practices and creating opportunities for minority populations to network and access the business community. All resources are free for participating businesses. Prosperity Initiative graduates are also encouraged to apply to be part of this program again and take their business to a new level.
According to the US Census Bureau, 29% of Minnesota’s population in 2040 will be people of color, an increase from only 4% in 1980. In response to this rapid growth, The Prosperity Initiative was designed to provide education and business resources to BIPOC business owners and educate resource partners on the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter. Since 2016, The Prosperity Initiative program has supported 70 clients with one-on-one business coaching.
The Prosperity Initiative is a partnership between SMIF, Community Economic Development Associates (CEDA), Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, Hourglass Consulting, Region Nine Development Commission and Rochester Diversity Council. This program is made possible by generous funding from Dan and Angie Bastian and Target Foundation.
Apply online to the Prosperity Initiative 2021 cohort at smifoundation.org/prosperity by end of today, April 30th. Contact Pam Bishop, Vice President of Economic Development at SMIF, at pamb@smifoundation.org or 507-214-7013 with questions.
Si necesite ayuda con estos adjuntos en español, contacta a Annie Nichols 651.338.1816 o annie.nichols@cedausa.com.
Defining Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Learning more about how our communities define diversity, equity, and inclusion will allow us to better understand and meet the needs of residents throughout the region. Region Nine wants to hear from you on how you define diversity, equity, and inclusion!
Looking Back on the Welcoming Communities Project Program
As the second year of the Welcoming Communities Project (WCP) comes to an end and participants prepare for graduation, it is important to recognize the milestones achieved by the project and its participants. After the rapid online transition caused by the pandemic, participants showed a sense of resilience and an ability to adapt to these new changes, and the project moved forward despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

This past year, WCP participants have engaged in equity and inclusion learning while developing community relationships to sustain inclusive community practices. Monthly cohort meetings included hands-on activities with stakeholders, subject experts, and community members. The Rural Equity Learning Community (RELC) alumni joined WCP participants during one of their monthly cohort sessions in which the RELC alumni shared their history, challenges, and accomplishments. Likewise, WCP participants joined the Rural Equity Summit which highlighted the racial equity, diversity, and inclusion work taking place in rural Minnesota. In addition, WCP participants had the opportunity to join a panel discussion led by the writer, producer, and a cast member of the film American Son. This panel discussion sparked initiatives in one of the communities to strengthen police-community relationships.

WCP participants have made great progress since the program's conception. To illustrate, the community of Springfield has implanted a Welcoming Communities Board, approved by the City of Springfield Council, that will work as a Human Rights and Welcoming Commission. Through the Welcoming Communities Project, participants have acquired the required tools to become drivers of community development and have developed a deep commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their respective communities. This couldn't have been possible without the hard work of the Greater Mankato Diversity Council, the U of MN Extension Center for Community Vitality, and Region Nine Development Commission.
Minnesota's cities and regional development commissions are invited to attend an online training on "Best Practices for Solar PV Permitting." This free webinar will take place Wednesday, May 12th 1:00 to 2:30pm. This SolSmart training will inform attendees about simplified solar permitting processes for residential systems and the applicable codes and standards. Attendees will learn about proper procedures for understanding and reviewing permit applications and supplemental documentation for compliance.
This free webinar is hosted by Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), SolSmart, Great Plains Institute, and Region Nine Development Commission.  
For SolSmart enrolled communities, this event will be eligible for SolSmart Criteria PI-2. Training will be presented by Bill Brooks.
New Restaurant Revitalization Fund Opens Soon
This program provides emergency assistance for eligible restaurants, bars, and other qualifying businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.
In the Media
In face of crisis, advocates tout child care solutions

Region Nine Development Commission awarded $290,000 grant- Read More
Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector now available in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.

Connect with a COVID Community Coordinator that fits your needs with the ability to search by cultural community, language, or county.

$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Small Cities Coronavirus CDBG-CV Program

The Small Cities Development Program Unit is accepting grant applications for eligible activities addressing community needs to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). These activities include broadband development, public services, retrofitting/repurposing buildings and commercial rehabilitation through the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) under M.S. § 116J.401.

Deadline: June 1, 2021
Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program helps rural communities use the unique capabilities of telecommunications to connect to each other and to the world, overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. For example, this program can link teachers and medical service providers in one area to students and patients in another. To learn more about recently funded DLT projects, Rural Development has developed a map of recently funded DLT projects

Deadline: June 4, 2021
Calendar of Events
About Region Nine
Region Nine Development Commission takes great pride in working with and on behalf of counties, cities, townships, and schools throughout South Central Minnesota. Since 1972, being a partner for progress has led to the development of programs and identification of solutions in the areas of economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.rndc.org.
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