April 2020
BCBS of Minnesota Awards $20,000 for COVID-19 Response
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Foundation of Minnesota has awarded $20,000 in response to COVID-19. An additional $2,500 is being donated by SJP Consulting, to make a total of $22,500. The funds will be given to local food shelves in the communities where the Rural Equity Learning Community (RELC) and Welcoming Communities Project (WCP) programs have been held.
Design & Wine
RNDC Business Highlight: Supporting Businesses During COVID-19
Design & Wine started in October 2014 as a small canvas class, traveling to homes and hosting painting parties. Owner and founder, Laura Doyen, worked to expand their offerings and now four and a half years later, their offerings include wood pallet workshops, string art, and specialty workshops. Starting with one employee, Design & Wine now employs five part-time instructors.

With the extended stay-at-home order, Design & Wine has had to work with hosts to reschedule workshops and classes as well as causing her employees to go without the supplemental income they gain from instructing at Design & Wine. Doyen described how COVID-19 has affected her business stating, “My business is all about social gathering and interacting. We host events that have anywhere from 6-32 people per class...that is $35-$65 per person. Our income when from a few hundred dollars an event to zero overnight.”
Welcoming Communities Project Goes Online
The Welcoming Communities Project started holding Zoom meetings on April 23rd to help the participants continue to build community through this challenging time. Topics covered in the April presentation included how to deal with change amidst these trying times, recognizing the power and science of social connection, and understanding mental health and social isolation. The next Zoom meeting will be held on May 14 and hope to return to face-to-face meetings in the future as life returns to normal.
DEED Wants Your Input on New Social Distancing Norms
Although the State of Minnesota is currently operating under an active stay-at-home order, state agencies – including the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) – are in the process of thinking through what our new “social distancing norms” should be once the stay-at-home order is eventually lifted.

For example:
  • Should everyone keep wearing masks?
  • How do we stay 6 feet away from each other in naturally smaller spaces, like an elevator?

The goal is to help Minnesotans stay safe and healthy while enabling more social and economic activity. This is why DEED needs your help to get the design of these new norms right.
El Tio opens amidst pandemic, thankful for community
Imagine working hard to get ready to open your new restaurant.

Then finally, the big day happens. And, two days later, the governor of Minnesota orders all bars and restaurants in the state to close down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and coronavirus fears.

That is exactly what happened to Maria Aguirre and William Sarmiento and their business partner Axel Chavez.

The three opened El Tio Mexican Restaurant in Blue Earth on Saturday, March 14. Then on Monday, March 16, came the governor's executive order that their restaurant and every other one in the state, had to shut down indefinitely the next day.

"So we had customers inside the restaurant for only two days," Sarmiento says. "It was bad. We had lots of food here that we had ordered for our opening. And we had to throw a lot of it away into the garbage."

He explains the state health department only lets restaurants keep food in a cooler for a certain number of days. So a lot of their food supplies ended up in the garbage.

The three have stayed open, however, doing a lot of carry out order business.

"The people of Blue Earth have been very good to us," Aguirre says. "They have been doing a lot of calling and getting orders from us. We are so thankful for that."
How to Create a Better “About” Page for Your Website
Friday, May 8th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

According to Google, “About” pages are the second most viewed page on a website. Surprising, I know. But even more surprising is that many businesses think an effective “About” page is a dry recount of their life along with a photo of their dog and a list of their favorite hobbies. Sorry, but that’s not going to convince a website visitor to buy your product or service.
An “About” page is a marketing tool and should be optimized to help get your visitors from where they are now (without your product) to where you want them to be (a happy customer). An effective “About” page tells your story while convincing the prospect that you are capable of solving their problem. It takes a little skill to look at a story that way, but in this presentation you’ll learn how.

This webinar is FREE to attend by clicking here .
About the Speaker:

Laura Babcock has seen business ownership from both inside and out – the passionate, working-in-the-trenches-wearing-many-hats owner; and the dedicated and honest voice of reason advice-giver. For seven years Laura owned and operated Laura’s Candy Inc., and for the last eight years has worked for organizations that help entrepreneurs and small business owners. Currently, Laura is a business consultant focusing on marketing - specifically content creation - for the South Central Region SBDC in Mankato. She is also a freelance copywriter, creating written marketing content for small- and medium-sized businesses. Laura has had articles published by AllBusiness and Connect Business magazine.
In the Media
Region Nine In a Unique Position To Help in a Unique Time - Read the KTOE article

PORTRAITS: Economic development work forged on a reliance of networks - Read the Waseca County News article
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Minnesota Pipeline Dual Training Grant Program Funding Available

This funding opportunity accompanies the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline competency models and is administered by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. The funding can be used to cover the related instruction component of companies' dual-training programs.

Deadline: May 8, 2020
Small Business Emergency Loans

Following Executive Order 20-15 , DEED has established a loan program to assist small businesses directly and adversely affected and whose industry is named in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08 following the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses are a vital part of Minnesota’s economy and this program will provide a source of working capital to help businesses sustain operations during this challenging time.

Deadline: Loans will be available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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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