Quarterly Newsletter | July 2022
Hannah is the first Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Fellow to join the R5DC team. With a background that mirrors her current interests, Hannah serves on multiple boards and commissions that focus on arts, social justice, environmental justice, and housing equity. As the JEDI fellow she will be working with our team to assist with existing programs; Equitable Economic Ecosystems, and working with local partners such as the Community Workforce Inclusive Council. Learn more at www.regionfive.org/staff
*Photo Credit: Alex Jones; Powderhorn Garden.
Dennika is serving as the Indigenous & Local Foods fellow, with a focus on community culinary artistry, and providing cooking demonstrations and new dishes to the region. This pilot project is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation.

Dennika Mays (They/Them) is passionate about creating soil, growing food forests, climate resilience education, and a firm advocate for social-ecological health. They have worked in several gardens across rural MN, along with establishing a personal food and ecology seed bank. Dennika is intentional about the creation of pollinator habitats, learning / implementing regenerative ways of being, and is dedicated to architecting a planet Earth that is viable through multiple generations. 
We would like to thank Erica Bjelland for her work at R5DC the past 2 years. We are grateful to Erica for her work in the energy and environment space and for helping communities in our region plan for sustainability & resiliency. Erica is off to amazing adventures in Colorado and we wish her all the best!

From Erica: "It has been a pleasure working with the ambitious and creative team at R5DC. I have grown so much by working with this team and will carry my time here with me in my next chapter of life. Thank you!"
We love seeing locally-driven projects in Region 5! Cass Lake and Jenkins are a few of the communities R5DC has been partnering with on Energy and Environment Plans. This Spring and Summer, the communities have begun the implementation of their projects from the plans. Jenkins had a community gathering and opportunity for well water testing and Cass Lake had a community waste day. And there are more exciting projects to come! Learn more about EEP here: www.regionfive.org/eep Thank you to Morgan Family Foundation, USDA, EDA, and Sourcewell for your partnership. 
Clean Energy MN & BCSE Clean Energy launch this resource for policymakers, journalists & the public to access clean energy data for the state. The Factsheet details clean energy trends in Minnesota and features accurate, up-to-date market information on the state’s energy sector.
See what's happening with Energy & Environment Planning at R5DC!

We are currently experiencing a critical volunteer driver shortage in our region! Watch the video below and learn more at www.r5rtcc.org/volunteer-drivers
July 20: R5DC Board of Directors Meeting | 10am at R5DC Office in Staples
Aug 25: R5DC Commission Meeting | 6pm at Sourcewell
Sept 22: R5DC Commission Meeting | 6pm at Sourcewell
Innovation Fund Grant
The Initiative Foundation makes grants through its Innovation Fund for projects and programs that advance our mission to empower people across Central Minnesota to build a thriving economy, vibrant communities and a lasting culture of generosity. Innovation Fund grants primarily support start-up or capacity-building projects across the 14 counties of Central Minnesota. Applications to the Innovation Fund are accepted on an ongoing basis, with quarterly awards made through a competitive review process. Application deadline is May 6. Learn more.

Minnesota Power Low-Income Solar Program
The Low Income Solar Program provides funding for projects that make it possible for income-qualified customers to have easier access to solar power. Applications for projects that benefit income-qualified customers or facilities that serve income-qualified customers can be submitted by Minnesota Power customers, solar installers or developers, or community groups. Applications submitted by August 8, 2022 will be reviewed by the committee for consideration in the fall funding round. Awards will be announced on September 6, 2022.
The newly released White House Tribal Playbook follows on the heels of a rural playbook issued earlier this year. Both documents aim to provide a roadmap for rural and Native nations communities to access new federal resources made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It continues to be very challenging for rural and tribal communities to draw down federal resources, and the stated goal of both playbooks is to change this dynamic. Both playbooks offer quick lists of programs sorted by tribal or rural eligibility, ideally making it easier for folks to know where to apply for resources.
Produced by USDA and the Economic Development Agency, the resource guide Stronger Together: Federal funding and planning strategies designed to promote sustainable economic development in rural America may be helpful for your strategic planning. It lays out all the programs within USDA and EDA that can help with rural economic development, ideally making it easier for rural organizations to identify and apply for federal funding. The guide organizes federal programs into four different categories: planning and technical assistance, infrastructure and broadband expansion, entrepreneurship and business assistance, and workforce development and livability. 

Aspen Community Strategies Group just released two pieces focused on measuring what matters to rural people and communities. Measure Up: A Call to Action is based on deep conversations with 46 seasoned rural practitioners and highlights six principles for measuring rural development progress. What (and Who) Counts? Defining Rural Development Success features four well-respected rural development practitioners’ perspectives on how to better define rural development success. Both pieces deepen the conversation on equitable measurement.
Cass County
Bob Kangas, County Commissioner
Annie McMurrin, Municipalities
John Benson, Town Boards

Crow Wing County
Rosemary Franzen, County Commissioner
Jon Lubke, Municipalities
Doug Kern, Town Boards
Tiffany Stenglein, City of Brainerd
Morrison County
Greg Blaine, County Commissioner
Rollie Johnson, Municipalities
Chuck Parins, Town Boards
Todd County
Barb Becker, County Commissioner
Alex Weego, Municipalities
Julie Polak, Town Boards

Wadena County
Sheldon Monson, County Commissioner
David A. Anderson, Municipalities
Erich Heppner, Town Boards

Public Interest
Dr. Carrie Brimhall, Higher Education
Steve Hall, Camp Ripley
Tameaka Crocker, Emerging Leader 
Diane Jacobson, SWCD
VACANT, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Amy Sjoblad, R5 School Board Rep
Andrea Haverinen, R5 School Board Rep
VACANT, MN Workforce Development
*Current as of July 1, 2022.
RDC board membership is comprised of elected officials from townships, cities, counties, school boards, and public interest groups per statute 462.388.
Read the latest news from our 501(c)3 lending organization, North Central Economic Development Association.