December 2023

Four-Lane Expansion of Highway 14 Ribbon-Cutting

After years of work, the four-lane expansion of Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm is finished. On Tuesday, November 21st, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) hosted a ribbon-cutting on the eastbound bridge in Courtland. This stretch of highway has been closed since April 2022, but safety concerns have been raised for decades.


A large crowd gathered for the event. They were joined by Governor Tim Walz, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congressman Brad Finstad, State Senator Nick Frentz, State Representative Jeff Brand, MnDOT representatives, and local leaders. All the speakers shared stories detailing how they were directly affected by the stretch of highway. Governor Walz told a story about one of his students getting the news that their father had been killed on the stretch of highway. Walz said, “So many of you have that story. So many neighbors lost, so many tragedies, understanding that transportation is critical.”


Congressman Finstad added, “Today is a celebration and really an honor of the lives of folks who were tragically lost on this highway.”


The new four-lane expansion will also have economic advantages for the region. Driving between communities will expand with the increased convenience and decreased travel times. The completion of this stretch also creates a continuous four-lane highway between New Ulm and Rochester. RNDC has been a proud partner of the Highway 14 partnership for years.


Learn more about this project by visiting the MnDOT website.

Learn More

Nicole Griensewic Elected to NADO's Executive Board

Nicole Griensewic was elected Secretary of the National Association of Development Organizations at the 2023 Annual Training Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.


As Secretary, Nicole will work with the 63-member NADO Board of Directors which oversees the association’s budget and operations and develops policy on issues affecting regional development organizations. NADO was founded in 1967 to provide training, information, and representation for regional development organizations throughout the United States. Today, NADO’s 300-plus member organizations serve local governments and the public within their regions through various programs focused on diversifying local economies, assisting businesses, creating jobs, and providing vital community services.


“We are honored to have Nicole Griensewic serve as Secretary of our national association,” shared NADO Executive Director Joe McKinney. “Nicole brings an abundance of regional community and economic development knowledge to this role and our Board. She is dedicated to helping our nation’s local communities pursue comprehensive regional strategies for remaining economically competitive in today’s rapidly changing global environment.”


“I am excited to join NADO’s Executive Board of Directors as Secretary,” said Griensewic. “The experiences I’ve gained from my 11 years of leading the Region Nine Development Commission, and my work with national and international organizations, will allow me to bring unique perspectives to my role. NADO is a vital resource for regional development organizations (RDO) and I am honored to serve the RDOs across the country.”

RNDC Receives NADO Impact Award

RNDC has been awarded a 2023 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for the Region Nine Learning Exchange with North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany.


RNDC led the 19-person delegation to Düsseldorf, Münster, Saerbeck, and Senden in NRW. The learning exchange provided an opportunity for the two groups to share ideas on creating inclusive communities and climate initiatives as both regions work toward a welcoming, clean energy economy.

RNDC Vice Chair Andrea Boettger and Energy and Sustainability Planner Samuel Sharp accepted the award during NADO’s 2023 Annual Training Conference. The 2023 class of award recipients consists of 107 projects from 71 organizations spanning 28 states. These projects are presented in an interactive story map developed by NADO that includes project summaries, partners, and images. The map is available online at


This is RNDC’s ninth Impact Award. You can learn more about the RNDC Learning Exchange with NRW by clicking the button below.

Learn More
Watch the KEYC Story

Guido Wallraven and Sabine Engel Hold Discussion in St. James and Comfrey

Guido Wallraven, Technical Director for the City of Saerbeck, Germany traveled to St. James and Comfrey to lead discussions on sustainable energy initiatives. He was joined by Sabine Engel, Director of International Partnerships at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.


The morning session took place at the St. James High School. The discussions revolved around getting the community involved and specifically how to engage the younger population. “Education and student engagement is vital. This is a part of their future and engagement is the bridge to action.” Wallraven said.


Sabine added, “We want to show people what is possible. It is already being done. I believe education is key. The better projects include education. The secret to success is that the students need to get more out of it than they put in.”


St. James community stakeholders Pat Branstad and Sue Harris facilitated the event. The pair have been working to bring sustainable practices to the attention of the community as they look the future of the city. Branstad said, “We want to have students involved in the planning. This is something that kids talk about. The future of St. James is the kids.”


The group discussion provided high school staff an opportunity to address their concerns and learn about what has worked for Saerbeck. One St. James High School staff member remarked how overworked the teachers were and that asking them to voluntary their free time wouldn’t work. Guido agreed with the concern. “This is a supplementary program to the normal curriculum. These new directions are much more work. This can’t be done only by volunteers. Working with RNDC to look at potential grants can be a way to get some support,” said Wallraven.

The town of St. James has been a leader in exploring alternative energy options. The city installed solar panels on the school November 20th and the water department purchased an electric vehicle. St. James also plans to be the first city in Watonwan County to have an electric vehicle charging station. “I am impressed with how the different entities are pulling together to make positive changes in the community,” said Engel.


The group then traveled to Comfrey to meet with Mayor Gary Richter and community members. The afternoon session also revolved around community engagement. This is the second time Guido has visited Comfrey as they look at the benefits of updating the city’s infrastructure with sustainability in mind.


Guido stressed the importance of turning conversations into action plans. “It starts by doing something. We don’t want to only talk the talk, we want to walk the walk,” said Wallraven.

Heather Bartelt Heading to Nicollet County

Heather Bartelt is leaving RNDC this month. Heather has been the Executive Assistant since 2019 and has greatly contributed to the success of RNDC. Her hard work and versatility made her a valuable asset that will be hard to replace.


Heather's talents were vital in keeping the office running smoothly, she organized Commission meetings, took care of the logistics for RNDC events, and assisted the staff with a variety of tasks.

“Heather has a way of making everyone who comes to the RNDC office feel welcome. She greets visitors with a smile that will immediately brighten your day,” said RNDC Communications Specialist Nathan George


“The team has been my favorite part of working at RNDC. They are a great group of dedicated and intelligent people who care about the region,” said Heather.


Heather will continue using her skills to help the region as she moves to her new position. Join us in wishing her well as she starts a new chapter. 

Faribault County Residents:

Take the County Residential Survey

Faribault County residents are encouraged to take the County Residential Survey. The objective of this survey is to gather residents’ opinions and suggestions about current and future county needs. Faribault County is partnering with Region Nine Development Commission on the development of a strategic economic development plan, and your input is highly valued.

If you live or work in Faribault County, please take the survey to have your opinions heard. Responses will be used to assess opportunities and challenges facing Faribault County, and it will help guide decisions made about the county’s future. Your responses will remain anonymous and confidential. Individual survey results will be combined and presented as a group.

English Survey
Spanish Survey

$$ Grant Opportunities $$

Minnesota Health Care Loan Forgiveness Programs

The Minnesota Office of Rural Health and Primary Care grants Loan Forgiveness to various health care professionals serving in high-need areas.

Deadline: Jan. 6, 2024

Learn More

Small Cities Development Program

This program helps cities and counties with funding for housing, public infrastructure and commercial rehabilitation projects. Cities with fewer than 50,000 residents and counties with fewer than 200,000 residents are eligible.

Deadline: Ongoing

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
Follow RNDC on social media to stay up-to-date on events, news, and more!