November 2023

Luisa Trapero Named to Governor's Council on Climate Change

Luisa Trapero, a community leader from St. James, was named to Governor Walz’s Advisory Council on Climate Change. This appointment will provide Luisa with the opportunity to have direct input in as the state works on climate change initiatives.


This appointment was well deserved as she was an integral part in the creation of the St. James Climate Smart Communities program. She was also part of the Region Nine Learning Exchange with North Rhine-Westphalia where she was able to see a rural community’s approach to creating sustainable energy and the economic benefits of these programs.


Along with her appointment to the council, Luisa was also hired to be the University of Minnesota Extension’s SNAP-Ed Health & Wellness Coordinator for Watonwan County. She is also a committee member for the Uniting Cultures/Uniendo Culturas Program, a founding board member for the Minnesota School Board Director of Color, and serves on the Riverbend School Board.


Even with her busy schedule, Luisa took time to sit down with RNDC for an interview.


It seems like you stay pretty busy serving on multiple boards and committees. What led you to public service?


I think it is essential to be involved in your community. What led to public service was my mother and grandmother, both single parents. They were always interested in many different communities in their home country. They always told us if you see someone needing help, you are there to help that person. It also helped when I was invited to the Rural Leadership Training Program by the Blandin Foundation. This training helped me understand that being involved also consists of taking responsibility and being where decisions are being made for the good of the community, always with your lens of equity and diversity.


Being where decisions are being made’ must have resonated with you. Now you’re on the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change. You were also part of the Region Nine Delegation to North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany. What was a key takeaway from the learning exchange?


It was the mentality. The population understands the importance of dealing with climate change. They think about their communities more than themselves or making big companies more significant profits. I like how the towns, cities, counties, and states are together in one mentality of helping Mother Earth. The trip made me able to dream about a society where we think about our habitats and their effects on the earth.


Being selected to serve on the council is an honor. I now have the chance to make a difference in the decision-making.


You have also been a trailblazer for the BIPOC community. Can you tell us about your experience being the first Latino elected in St. James?


I felt very proud, but also very committed to the community, especially the Latino community. I was trying to give a voice to those who did not have one in the decision-making. At the same time, I was learning a complex system. Some days, there were challenges, but there were triumphs.


The challenges I faced were learning how to navigate the system but also thinking about equity in all the decision-making that I was doing. School board decisions like academics and the arts and sports need to be done with an equity lens all the time.


I think we had various triumphs. One was having the agendas and minutes for the board meeting in English and Spanish. I also fell it was a victory to have an equity group for the district and administration of the school. Our Equity and Diversity also moved forward with the students. I think that was a triumph for anyone who wants to see changes in the district with an equity lens.


After many years on the Board, it was time to let someone else take that responsibility. There's a time when you must let someone else take the baton and continue with the lens of equity.


Thank you for your time. RNDC is excited to see what you accomplish next!


RNDC would like to congratulate Luisa on her appointment to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change.

RNDC Directors Present to Martin County Commissioners

RNDC Executive Director Nicole Griensewic and Economic Development Director Kristian Braekkan were in Fairmont this month to present to the Martin County Board of Commissioners meeting. Nicole spoke on the mission of RNDC and updated the commissioners on the work being done. This work includes the RNDC Revolving Loan Fund Program, a Manufacturing Resiliency Plan, and an Agricultural Resiliency Plan, among others.

Kristian focused more directly on the economic data and demographics of Martin County. He stated how important the manufacturing and agriculture industries are to the economic vitality of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. These industries have been the backbone of the county, and the state.


Over the last few years, the number of manufacturing jobs has seen a steady decline. Manufacturing and agricultural jobs bring in the most money for workers and the county, but healthcare has been the fastest-growing industry throughout Region Nine.


You can read a full recap of the presentation by reading the Fairmont Sentinel article.

Read the Fairmont Sentinel Story

Commissioners Honor Blair Nelson

At Wednesday's Commission meeting, RNDC was joined by Blair Nelson's family to honor his dedication to Waseca County and Region Nine. Blair's selflessness and willingness to advocate for the residents of Waseca County will be felt for years to come. RNDC Commissioners presented his family with a plaque to recognize his work and planted five trees in his honor.

RNDC Chair, Mike Laven said, "When discussions around what Region Nine needs to be doing, you could count on Blair to keep us grounded in what we were doing well but supported stretching out towards innovations."

Corree Johnson Embarks on New Career Journey

RNDC Communications Specialist, Corree Johnson is off to her next adventure. Corree has been the Communications Specialist since 2018 and recently completed her master’s degree in public relations.

During her time at RNDC, she used her talents to educate communities and entrepreneurs on marketing and communication strategies. Corree was also vital to increasing awareness of RNDC and promoting Region Nine.

Join us in wishing Corree the best of luck as she starts her next chapter!

Latina Small Business Owners, Take the HACER Survey

Are you a female entrepreneur looking to consolidate your business? HACER is conducting interviews and surveys to learn about the experiences of Latina small business owners. Interview participants will receive $40, and survey respondents will receive a $15 gift card.

Schedule an Interview
Take the Survey

Bravo Zulu House Opening Soon in Martin County

A new all-military sober house will be opening soon in Martin County. The Bravo Zulu House is the result of Martin County veterans partnering with Trinity Sober Homes (TSH) to create one of the first, all-military sober houses in the United States.


According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 75-95% of veterans that are struggling with PTSD, also abuse drugs and alcohol. The Bravo Zulu House will provide veterans with a home-like environment with access to formal counseling, animal therapy, and on-site employment.


Trinity Sober Homes is the nation’s leading sober house provider and the organization specializes in helping men over 40 recover in a safe environment after treatment. TSH residents have 71% success rate in remaining sober one year after treatment. This is approximately 50% higher than other programs.

USDA is Hiring Pathway Student Trainees

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency is hiring Pathway Student Trainees nationwide.


The Pathways Internship Program provides year-round paid work experiences for degree-seeking high-school, undergraduate, and graduate students. Interns may work during the summer, fall, spring, or year-round and are eligible for non-competitive conversion upon program completion. Applicants must be enrolled or accepted for enrollment for at least a half-time basis at a qualifying educational institution in a certificate, degree, or diploma program with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale.


USDA is hiring a variety of student trainees in agronomy, soil science, biology, forestry, natural resource management, range land management, archaeology, economics, engineering, management analysis, cartography, geology, soil conservationist, survey statistician, loan assistant/specialist, program technician, and administration.

Deadline Extended to Comment on the Draft State Highway Investment Plan

The draft 20-Year Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan is available for public comment. During the first two rounds of public engagement for the plan, Minnesota state highway users provided their priorities for spending on the state highway system over the next 20 years and gave their feedback on the draft investment direction. MnDOT used that information to revise the investment direction and develop the draft plan.

The public comment period has been extended through November 27th. MnDOT is inviting public comments on the draft plan. Comment on the plan at or email comments to

$$ Grant Opportunities $$

AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant

The AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant (SustAg) supports innovative on-farm research and demonstrations. SustAg projects explore sustainable agriculture practices and systems that could make farming more profitable, resource-efficient, or personally satisfying.

Deadline: Dec. 7, 2023

Learn More

Storm Water, Wastewater, and Community Resilience Planning Grant

The MPCA is launching a Request for Proposals (RFP) to distribute $750,000 for climate planning projects. This funding provides an opportunity for these communities to assess vulnerabilities and begin planning for the effects of Minnesota’s changing climate.

Deadline: Dec. 11, 2023

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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