September 2021
Region Nine Announced as 2021 NADO Impact Awards Recipient
Region Nine was selected as a 2021 NADO Impact Awards recipient for work with Minnesota State University, Mankato and their creation of a Minnesota State Polytechnic Institute.

The Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional economic development and improved quality of life. These projects have made significant impacts on their regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country. The 2021 class of awardees consists of 102 projects from 70 organizations spanning 24 states. Stay tuned in October for the release of a Story Map that will highlight the stories behind each of these projects. Click here to see the complete list of awardees.

Interested in learning more about our work on the Minnesota State Polytechnic Institute? Contact Kristian Breakkan, senior regional planner, at
Region Nine Representatives to attend and present at NADO Conference
The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s regional development organizations. The association and its members promote regional strategies, partnerships, and solutions to strengthen the economic competitiveness and quality of life across America’s local communities. Region Nine representatives Nicole Griensewic, Alejandra Bejarano, Mike Laven, Sue Harris, and Pat Branstad will be attending the 2021 NADO Annual Training Conference from October 16-19 in Portland, OR.

During the conference, Alejandra Bejarano, Sue Harris, and Pat Branstad will be giving the following presentation:

Embracing Change - Strengthening Communities in Rural America

A group of committed, caring, and passionate residents of St. James chose to embrace the changing population demographic in their small town in rural Minnesota as an opportunity instead of a problem. In the process of getting to know one another’s stories and working on projects designed to recognize and celebrate the diverse cultural heritage of the town’s residents, trusting relationships formed that have built bridges between diverse community members, creating a more welcoming community for all. Alejandra Bejarano, Economic Recovery Planner for Region Nine, will discuss findings from a labor study she conducted last fall that seeks to understand the current state of the workforce in the South-Central Minnesota region. Sue Harris, local Community Education Director, and Pat Branstad, facilitator for the multicultural community organization, Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas, will share the community’s successes and challenges through its equity work and the ripple effects inspired by the work of these dedicated community champions.

Interested in learning more? Contact Alejandra Bejarano at
Delegation to Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia Updates
Region Nine’s Executive Director Nicole Griensewic joined the Climate Smart Municipalities (CSM) delegation to Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) from September 11-18, 2021. The delegation consisted of 17 members representing the cities of Duluth, Morris, Rochester, Warren, White Bear Lake, along with state government, counties, business, and the education and nonprofit sectors. As part of the delegation agenda, Griensewic gave a presentation on sustainable economic development across counties.

Below are links to CSM’s 2021 Delegation dispatches highlighting events of the day as well as cities involved in the exchange.
Annual Broadband Conference: Regional Gathering
The South Central and Southeast Regional Broadband Conference took place on September 16 as part of the annual Blandin Foundation broadband conference, Building on Broadband: Inspiring Progress. The conference was hosted by Region Nine Development Commission, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, SE MN Together, and Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities with support from Blandin Foundation and the MN Office of Broadband Development. Presenters included Diane Wells from the Governor’s Office of Broadband Development, who presented on broadband maps and data collected by DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, the Southeast Minnesota League of Municipalities, and the Minnesota Broadband Coalition. Brenda Johnson from the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities followed with a synthesis of broadband survey results that her organization has collected from regional cities, counties, and townships. Additionally, Red Wing Ignite and the Le Sueur County Broadband Initiative shared about two of their regional initiatives to advance broadband-fueled economic and community development in the region. The conference ended with participants sharing their broadband hopes, concerns, and priorities for their communities and region.

There will be eight regional meetings in the next several weeks to discuss the state of rural broadband in Minnesota. Feedback gathered during this regional conference will be compiled with the outcomes of the other regional broadband meetings and will be shared at the Blandin Foundation’s statewide conference on October 12-14. You can register for the statewide conference here.
A Guide for Navigating Funding Available for Business Growth
In addition to the funds appropriated from the 2021 Minnesota Legislative Session, there are also a large number of programs stemming from the American Rescue Plan to help support and grow our businesses and economy. This is great news, but can also become overwhelming. As a result, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has created a guide to help partners and businesses with navigating available funding opportunities in one easy location.
United Nations Summer Academy: Redesigning a Sustainable Future
Region Nine Staff Members, Corree Johnson and Alejandra Bejarano, attended the 10th United Nations Summer Academy from August 23-27, 2021. There were 119 participants from 62 countries (6 of which were also from the United States) in attendance. Both Corree and Alejandra were able to attend via scholarships sponsored by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The five-day interactive online program explored sustainable development in a post COVID-19 context, from a multi-sectoral perspective, focusing on three themes: health and well-being, economic transformation, and climate action. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Paris Agreement were explored through panel discussions, small group breakout activities, and peer-exchange. Transformative conceptual approaches of systems thinking, futures thinking, and design thinking were explored and practiced in work groups as tools to address complex and volatile problems. Additionally, the program featured trending sustainable development topics such as green finance and frontier technologies. Experts highlighted the latest developments in these areas and their potential contribution to sustainable development efforts.

Corree Johnson also presented during a Share Talk: Partnerships in Sustainability side event alongside two other participants, Chinwe Ifechigha with Total Energies Marketing Nigeria Plc and Karol Alejandra Arambula Carrillo with My Work Mexico in order to share ongoing initiatives, how partnerships are key, and best practices.
Thank you to Dr. Sabine Engel of the University of Minnesota, who is the lead organizer of the Climate-Smart Municipalities project, which pulls together 12 cities and our region in the state of Minnesota and Germany’s state of North Rhine-Westphalia, for connecting us with this amazing opportunity!
In the Media
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation announces new Prosperity Initiative cohort; seeks additional members - Read More

New Chair brings fresh lens to CTS Executive Committee - Read More
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
Multipurpose, Assessment, RLF, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs

Grants offered by the Brownfields Program may be used to address sites contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum) and petroleum. Please visit the Types of Grant Funding for an overview of the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants.

The FY 2022 Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Guidelines are now available (go to Open Solicitations).

Deadline: December 1, 2021
Hometown Grants Program

In partnership with Main Street America and Smart Growth America, T-Mobile is committing $25 million toward small town grants over the next five years through its Hometown Grants program. The program will award up to 100 towns per year with project funding grants of up to $50,000 each. The program will focus on revitalizing community spaces in towns with 50,000 people or less. Main Street programs are encouraged to apply.

Deadline: Quarterly Basis
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
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