March 2024

Sabri Fair Accepted into the Minnesota Young American Leaders Program

RNDC Environment and Sustainability Planner, Sabri Fair has been accepted into the 2024 Minnesota Young American Leaders Program (MYALP)!


Sabri is a 2021 graduate of Macalester College with a degree in Environmental Science. Later that year he started at RNDC as a Lead for Minnesota Fellow before being hired as the Environment and Sustainability Planner. Sabri approaches his projects with sustainability, economic resilience, social equity, and environmental stewardship in mind.


Sabri grew up on a farm in Michigan and continues to work with farmers in Region Nine. This gives him a deeper understanding of issues facing family farms. “Growing up on a farm and having so many neighbors and friends involved in Michigan's local food system has been super helpful to my work in Minnesota. Part of that is understanding the different avenues people sell their products through like Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnerships and Co-ops. I am always happy having a meeting with farmers while pulling weeds and coming back to the office with dirt on my pants," said Sabri.


His background in agriculture and his passion for sustainable practices have led him to be a driving force behind Region Nine's Local Foods Week, which will be celebrating its third year in June. Local Foods Week connects farmers with restaurants to create a special dish featuring locally-grown produce and livestock.


“Through Local Foods Week we can help our farmers create new sales channels with restaurants in the region. We can also educate community members that there are local farmers with great products they can buy from their local farmer's market or straight from the farm. For our locally owned restaurants it also serves as a great way to get people in the door,” said Sabri.

The Young American Leaders Program was created in 2015 by the Harvard School of Business. The Minnesota program grew from a partnership between the Itasca Project and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrative Leadership.


MYALP is a three day program at the University of Minnesota that connects approximately sixty rising leaders from for-profit, government, and non-profit sectors. The program is aimed at young leaders who are committed to working across sectors to help their communities prosper inclusively.


RNDC has had five previous participants in the program: Executive Director Nicole Griensewic, Economic Recovery Planner Alejandra Bejarano, consultant Colin Scharf, and RNDC Commissioners Chris Dalton and Ayan Omar.

Learn More About MYALP

Senator Frentz Meets with the Legislative and Communications Committee

The RNDC Legislative and Communications Committee hosted Senator Nick Frentz. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the top priorities of the region for the 2024 legislative session. The committee has identified the top priorities as water infrastructure, childcare, and Emergency Medical Services.


2024 is a bonding year for the Minnesota Legislature and bonding requests were also a topic of discussion. Committee members stated that they would like to see a focus on water projects. These include the construction of water towers, improved drinking water quality, and plans for a new water treatment facilities.


The committee consists of RNDC Commissioners Andrea Boettger, Elroy Glidden, Lisa Norton, Dave Borchert, Scott Schlueter, Dawn Kratzke, Mike Pfeil, and Executive Director Nicole Griensewic. They were joined by RNDC Chair Mike Laven, Eagle Lake City Administrator Jennifer Bromeland, Rob Wilkening, and RNDC Interns Saga Rydaker and Mireille Ghassan.


Senator Frentz’s family has lived in the area for over 150 years. He is a North Mankato resident and represents District 18 which includes portions of Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Nicollet Counties.

Save the Date! - Grant Opportunity Forum Being Held Friday, April 12th

Join RNDC Friday, April 12th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the 2024 Grant Opportunity Forum! The event will be held at the South Central Service Co-op, 2075 Lookout Dr, North Mankato, MN.

This event will cover grant opportunities available in Region Nine. You will hear from speakers representing the USDA, Minnesota Department of Commerce, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Minnesota Rural Water Association, and RNDC.

The event will highlight:

  • Childcare Initiatives and Grants
  • Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)
  • Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)
  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Solar Funding
  • and other available funding

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their questions answered and leave with funding options for their community. Lunch will be provided by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and a networking session will follow the event.

Please register by clicking the button below to reserve your spot!

Register for the Grant Opportunity Forum

New Ulm Awarded Welcoming America Grant

The City of New Ulm was awarded a Welcoming America grant for $2,500. RNDC alerted the city of this opportunity and assisted with writing the successful grant application. As part of the award, New Ulm will also receive a complimentary one-year membership to the Rural Welcoming Initiative. This initiative provides members with access to technical assistance, coaching, and ongoing learning opportunities to strengthen welcoming efforts in rural communities.


New Ulm is one of only 10 communities and organizations nationwide to receive the grant award. Other recipients include organizations and groups in North Dakota, Washington, Kansas, Vermont, Nevada, Tennessee, and other rural Minnesota communities. As part of the grant award, city leaders will be part of a national cohort and will attend the Rural Welcoming Initiative Conference in Dallas this April.


Welcoming America is a nonprofit whose mission is to help communities prosper by creating inclusive environments that ensure all residents have the opportunity to prosper. It is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year.

Meet RNDC Intern Mireille Ghassan

Mireille Ghassan has been interning with RNDC since September 2023 with a focus on economic development. She is a Minnesota State University, Mankato graduate and received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations with a minor in Political Science. This year she completed her master’s degree in Public Administration and Community Management.


Mireille pursued an internship with RNDC because of its multifaceted approach to community improvement. Mireille said, “Witnessing the organization's dedication to enhancing regional development along with its collaborative efforts with both public and private sectors resonated deeply with my aspirations for impactful work.”


Mireille aspires to continue her work in community development. Mireille said, “I hope to one day be in a leadership position where I can foster community growth and organizational vitality, and in doing so make meaningful contributions to sustainable development and societal advancement.”


In her free time, she is a self-proclaimed quilt enthusiast. “I enjoy all sorts of crafting and DIY projects. I love to sew, and I recently started learning how to sew my own clothes,” said Mireille.


During her time with RNDC, Mireille has been a valuable asset. She has assisted the planners in research and document creation. She has also worked with the Communications Department in generating contact lists and event planning.

The Minnesota Association of Townships Scholarship Program is Accepting Applications

The Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT) is now accepting applications for its scholarship program. The program is designed to heighten awareness about Minnesota’s Grassroots Township government.


All Minnesota high school students currently enrolled in the 11th grade and who plan to attend a college, university, or vocational school are eligible. MAT provides up to five $2000 scholarships.


MAT’s mission is to support and promote the township model of local government through educational programs, advocacy, collaboration, and acquisition of vital resources.


The deadline to apply is Saturday, June 1st. Learn how to apply by clicking the button below.

Learn More and Apply

Register for AURI's 2024 New Uses Forum on Tuesday, April 9th

This year's New Uses Forum will focus on bio-industrial innovations and opportunities. The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and its partners, Compeer Financial and Avisen Legal are bringing together experts to highlight market challenges and opportunities in biomaterials innovation and finance. AURI will also be announcing its Ag Innovator of the Year. There will be opportunities throughout the day to network with your peers.


This event will be held in Mankato on Tuesday, April 9th from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Learn more and register by clicking the button below.

Learn More and Register

$$ Grant Opportunities $$

Cooperative Development Funding Program

The Cooperative Development Grant Program is now accepting applications from new cooperatives looking to finance business development strategies that will aid in the successful production, processing, or marketing of agricultural commodities, products, or services produced in Minnesota.

Deadline: April 24, 2024

Learn More

Workforce Housing Development Program

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.

Deadline: April 30, 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
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