February 2024

Nicole Griensewic Gives Keynote Presentation in Rochester

RNDC Executive Director Nicole Griensewic traveled to Rochester to be the keynote speaker for the SE MN Together event, "What is Our Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy?" The event brought together elected officials, regional stakeholders, representatives from higher education, and members of government and community organizations to provide an overview of the SE MN Together Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).


After giving a brief introduction to RNDC, she explained how the CEDS and the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) priorities help guide the organization’s work with approval from the commissioners. Nicole addressed each EDA priority and gave examples of how the work of RNDC aligns with both the priorities and the CEDS. She added that sometimes the needs of a region can be different than EDA priorities. An example of this was equity.


In 2017, RNDC began work in rural equity which was not a consideration of the EDA at the time. This started by holding forums on race and led to the creation of the Rural Equity Learning Cohort. Out of the cohort grew the Welcoming Communities Project (WCP) and the Southern Minnesota Equity Summit. The WCP led to developing a regional equity and inclusion plan which was funded by the Bush Foundation. In 2024, equity is now the top priority of the EDA.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) President/CEO Tim Penny also spoke about their work in South East Minnesota. SMIF partnered with SE MN Together to help develop its CEDS and was a sponsor of the event. Other speakers included staff for Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, Representative Finstad, and state and federal agencies.


What is a CEDS?

A CEDS contributes to effective economic development in communities and regions through locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning processes. A CEDS document is required by the Federal EDA to maintain Economic Development District (EDD) status and must be updated every five years to qualify for EDA assistance.


You view the RNDC CEDS by clicking the button below.

View the RNDC 2022-2026 CEDS

Register for "Industry Clusters on the Prairie: Economic Drivers in South Central Minnesota"

The Center for Transportation Studies and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs are hosting leaders from industry, economic development, academia, and transportation to discuss the University of Minnesota's new research about the Medical Device Industry’s economic and transportation impact on rural Minnesota.

RNDC's Kristian Braekkan will address cluster formations and how industries are dependent on one another across geographic areas. He will also talk about the research assistance he provided to Dr. Horan’s team on the medical device mapping exercise with their partners at the University of Minnesota and with ESRI.

The event will take place at the South Central Service Cooperative on Friday, February 16th from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. You can register for this free event by clicking the button below.

Register for the Event

Legislative and Communications Committee Recap

The Region Nine Legislative and Communications Committee met on February 6th to speak with Scott McMahon, Executive Director of the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP). Since 2012, GMNP has dedicated its time to advocating for economic growth in Greater Minnesota. They do this by bringing together stakeholders throughout the state to create an environment that is attractive to investors and engaging with lawmakers to ensure policies and funding benefit the communities of Greater Minnesota.


McMahon discussed what to expect from the upcoming legislative session. He said 2024 is a traditional bonding year and the 2.4 billion dollar surplus will be a key issue. He added that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is a hot topic that will need to be addressed. Staffing and funding issues have strained the Emergency Medical Systems across the state.


McMahon laid out GMNP’s legislative priorities for the year. He said that grants for childcare facilities, housing infrastructure, and Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) are top priorities. He also said support for rural EMS and equitable funding across greater Minnesota are high on the list.


Along with these, GMNP is focusing on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and childcare license reform. TIF is a public financing method that is used as a subsidy for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community improvement projects.


The session continued with an overview of funding that was made available from last session. The committee members also listed the most important issues in their communities. The most common responses were housing, childcare, transportation infrastructure, and public utilities.

Workforce Housing Development Program is Accepting Applications

This competitive funding program targets small to medium-sized cities, communities, or areas in Greater Minnesota with rental workforce housing needs. Funding is available to build market-rate residential rental properties in communities that have proven job growth. They are also required to secure funds that match one dollar for every two dollars offered through this program.


The following are Eligible Project Areas:


  • A home rule charter or statutory city with a population exceeding 500 located outside of a Metropolitan County.
  • A community that has a combined population of 1,500 residents located within 15 miles of a home rule charter or statutory city located outside a Metropolitan County.
  • An area served by a Joint County-City Economic Development Authority.


Eligible project areas with fewer than 30,000 people will be given preference.


Applications are due by Tuesday, April 30.

Learn More

Meet RNDC Intern Saga Rydaker

Saga Rydaker was born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden and studied Community Planning at Uppsala University. Uppsala is Sweden's oldest university, first opening its doors in 1477.

Her education led to working with geographic information systems (GIS) for the Swedish Armed Forces. She studied roadwork and traffic in Sweden, as well as compiling demographic data. During this time, her interest in economic development, and learning how cities function, became a focus.

Saga's family has ties to Minnesota going back to the 1980s when her grandparents moved to the Twin Cities for work. Her grandfather, Anders Rydaker, became the second President of District Energy. This started a connection with Minnesota that would lead to Saga interning with RNDC almost 40 years later.

District Energy is the parent company of Ever-Green Energy, which has been an RNDC partner in clean energy initiatives. Ken Smith, former president of Ever-Green Energy, and current president of District Energy, heard that Anders' granddaughter was looking for an internship and suggested RNDC as a perfect opportunity.

Since starting her internship, Saga has been working closely with Economic Development Director Kristian Braekkan utilizing her experience with GIS and demographic data, to assist with research throughout the region.

"I want to explore the real America, not just the big cities. I want to experience the culture and see the differences between living here and living back in Sweden," said Saga.

One difference she's noticed is the transportation. "I'm not used to having to take my car everywhere. I’m used to walking, biking, and taking public transportation. My first days here I was stuck in my home. Where I’m staying, there are no sidewalks. When I went for a walk, I had to cross a busy highway," said Saga.

As Saga adjusts to the differences in transportation, she is looking forward to exploring Minnesota's natural beauty and learning more about Region Nine. Her experience and inquisitive nature will be great assets for South Central Minnesota.

Sign Up for AURI's "Fundamentals of On-farm Anaerobic Digestion" Webinar

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is hosting a free webinar explaining the ins-and-outs of anaerobic digestion. Thursday, February 29, from 12:00-1:15 p.m. you can hear details from local industry experts and farmers to learn about anaerobic digestion from a producer's perspective.

Register for the Webinar

AURI will also be hosting its 2024 New Uses Forum in Mankato on April 9th. This forum will focus on bio-industrial innovations and opportunities. AURI will also be naming its Ag Innovator of the Year. More information will be available soon at auri.org.

MnDOT is Seeking Input on its State Rail Plan

MnDOT invites Minnesota residents, businesses, railroad fans and stakeholders to provide feedback to help set the vision and policy guidance for future public investment in Minnesota’s multimodal transportation system. Minnesotans can provide feedback through Spring 2024 in the following ways:

Take the MnDOT Rail Survey

Solar on Public Buildings Grant Program - Public Engagement Webinar

Thursday, Feb. 22, from 10-11 a.m. there will be a free public engagement webinar detailing the Solar on Public Buildings Grant Program.

The Solar on Public Buildings Grant Program will equip cities, towns, counties, and other local governments and Tribal Nations to lower utilities costs, increase energy independence, expand the clean energy workforce, and take essential action on the climate crisis.

$4.3 million in state funding will be distributed to local governments to build solar arrays (system size up to 40 kilowatts) across Xcel Energy territory in Minnesota. These grants can be paired with federal clean energy tax credits now available to local governments.

Join this webinar to learn about the program, give your input, and prepare for the upcoming grant application. Register by clicking the button below.

Register for the Event

Get Involved! Open Region Nine Commission Seats

The following commission seats are vacant:

  • Nicollet County Cities Under 10,000
  • Faribault County Cities Under 10,000
  • High School Age Commissioner
  • Regional School Board Commissioner
  • City of Fairmont

To find out more about becoming a commissioner, contact Nate at nate@rndc.org

Apply to Join the Commission

$$ Grant Opportunities $$

Protecting Livestock Grant Program

This grant aims to help Minnesota farmers and ranchers protect livestock from disease and other risks by helping eligible producers buy and install supplies or equipment that will help prevent disease outbreaks and protect animals not currently covered by existing depredation programs.

Eligible projects include fencing, electronic animal ID systems, air filtration, exclusion systems, Danish entry systems, truck washes, and other strategies to prevent and mitigate disease and other risks.

Deadline: March 7, 2024

Learn More

Minnesota Community-Based Substance Misuse and Suicide Prevention Coalition Grant

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is soliciting proposals for community-based substance misuse and suicide prevention coalitions in Minnesota, which will serve the needs of Minnesotans at risk of substance misuse and suicide, with a specific focus on youth. The applicant will develop a data driven plan to decrease substance misuse and suicidal experiences for youth, ages 10-24. This will be done by coordinating a multi-sector coalition, that will develop a plan to address shared risk and protective factors for substance misuse and suicidal experiences.

Deadline: March 14, 2024

Learn More

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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