July 2019
A Strategic Economic Development Plan
For Lake Crystal's Future
The Lake Crystal Strategic Economic Development Plan will be the result of a seven month initiative between RNDC and the City of Lake Crystal, with an expected completion date of October 2019, and will create a comprehensive picture of Lake Crystal’s local economy, position, and reputation within the region. The plan will incorporate public engagement and feedback that will allow RNDC to verify findings, test assumptions, and uncover additional challenges or opportunities that the city may face.
Lake Crystal will soon be receiving a draft of its implementation plan for sustainable economic growth. Preliminary findings are based on wide-ranging stakeholder input, which was facilitated by Region Nine. Input came from more than 50 interviews with business owners and city officials, a public survey with 211 respondents, and a public open house attended by about 30 residents. Findings suggest that investments in affordable, multifamily housing and public infrastructure, particularly along State Highway 60 and an industrial park, stand to offer the highest returns on investment. Five specific action steps were identified for the city to consider pursuing:

1.      Develop a marketing campaign
2.      Develop/redevelop underutilized sites, including downtown
3.      Provide relocation incentives for businesses
4.      Develop industrial park near Highway 60
5.      Establish a manufacturing-related business cluster
“Region Nine is excited to be working with the City of Lake Crystal on their strategic economic development plan. Their initiative to do this in an effort to strengthen the city in a future-oriented way and should be applauded. It is very much an investment for future generations as the city wants to make sure that Lake Crystal remains a great place to live, work, and go to school.

The city’s residents have already exceeded our expectations in terms of input, which speaks for itself when it comes to what kind of place Lake Crystal is. We are eager to see the impact this plan has on Lake Crystal and how the community will continue to thrive,” shared Executive Director of Region Nine Development Commission, Nicole Griensewic Mickelson.
Kyle Hoffman Joins Region Nine
Kyle Hoffman joins Region Nine as a community development planner. He works in community, economic, and workforce development as well as regional and local transportation. As a fifth-generation southern Minnesotan and lifelong resident of the Mankato area, Kyle is passionate about serving his community. Prior to joining Region Nine, he served on the congressional staff of former Congressman (now Governor) Tim Walz, providing outreach, community engagement, and constituent services; managed a competitive state senate campaign; and acted as a senior aide to a nationally-recognized congressional race. He holds a B.S. in Political Science from Minnesota State University-Mankato.
St. Peter American Legion Sells Whiskey River Building Based on Region Nine Recommendation
Legion selling Whiskey River building; new owners plan sports bar

The William R. Witty American Legion Post 37 announced Friday a sales agreement with Dan and Ryan Neisen on the Whiskey River property, off Hwy. 99, just east of the Broadway Bridge.

The new owners plan to re-open the space as a sports bar, according Dan Neisen, who is the father of Ryan.

"We’re going to do the sports bar atmosphere with the whole kitchen," he said. "It’ll be burgers and that kind of stuff. We’re going to put a bunch of TVs in there. We’ll sell pull tabs for the Legion."

The Neisens plan to close on the purchase Aug. 13. After that, they will aim to get necessary licenses to server food and alcohol, and by September, they hope to open.

"I think it’s a great community there, so hopefully everything goes well," Dan Neisen said.
After receiving the Whiskey River, which closed in early 2017, as a gift from Nicollet County Bank and Sam Gault, the American Legion took the initiative to reach out and contract with Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC). RNDC then conducted a feasibility study that provided the American Legion with recommendations for the gifted property, as well as the current building, that best fit with the values and mission of the American Legion.
Revolving Loan Fund Client Celebrates 10 Years
Vanderberg Clean is a family owned and operated cleaning service based in Mankato, MN. Josh Vanderberg gained the knowledge of the business from working with his grandparents, Larry and Sharon Bomsta, who owned a local cleaning company. Vanderberg continued the family business and started the company in 2009 with aid from Region Nine, through the Revolving Loan Fund program, and other financial supporters.

“Region 9 had faith and hope in me and what Vanderberg Clean could become. At the time I had few other options for the funding that I needed to launch this organization. I worked hard turning that loan into a vehicle, equipment and supplies to allow me to start Vanderberg Clean. Since then, hard work, persistence and determination have fueled us in this business. I’m proud to say that without Region 9; we would not be where we are today. 10 years later, Vanderberg Clean is fulfilling a great need in the community helping and affecting thousands of people,” shared Vanderberg.
Since opening in 2009, with business geared towards janitorial services, the company has seen multiple successes. In 2010, the company expanded and added residential and commercial carpet cleaning. In 2014, Vanderberg and Becca, his wife, received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year for MN award by the Small Business Administration. In 2016, Vanderberg Clean expanded once more when they finished construction and moved into their current location off of South Victory Drive. Now, the company continues to thrive celebrating with their seventh "Voted Best of Mankato" award.

“As we celebrate 10 years in business, we’d like to reflect on a few things. First, the supportive community in the Greater Mankato area is awesome. We are grateful to be a part of such a great community. We are happy to be part of the solution for so many people and glad people trust us to get the job done right! We’ve grown in our team, janitorial accounts and carpet customers throughout the years and we continue to love being part of Mankato,” shared Vanderberg.

To learn more, check out Vanderberg Clean on their website or on Facebook .
Kiester in Action
The City of Kiester was awarded a grant, the Small Cites Grant, by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation last fall to create an action plan. A visioning session was held in March where residents had the opportunity to participate in brainstorming activities regarding different aspects of the community.
Kiester will soon be receiving a list of recommendations for sustainable growth and economic development as part of a project funded jointly by the City of Kiester and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Input came from a combination of city and business interviews, in addition to the visioning session. The plan identifies three low-cost next steps that both residents and city officials can take toward maximizing growth potential for a reasonable cost. Recommendations include:

  1. Attract professionals and young families to move into the city
  2. Engage renters and lower-income residents
  3. Establish senior living and opportunities for current residents to age-in-place
“Region Nine is excited to be working with the City of Kiester and creating an action plan that can be used to maximize growth potential. Their initiative to see what low-cost options their community can maximize on is essential to their future and shows the depth of commitment the residents have towards their city,” shared Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson.
Inequality Drives Our Work
The persistent focus on building a more equitable prosperity in Minnesota is largely driven by mountains of data in recent decades that point to both stubborn racial disparities and rising economic inequality in the nation and state.  A recent case in point is a report from the Brookings Institution showing that wealth inequality is even more stark than annual income inequality.  Facts from the report: the top 20 percent now holds three times the wealth of the 60 percent in the middle-income quintiles; since 2010 the top one percent has more wealth than the entire 60 percent in the middle quintiles, and the gap is growing; a tax of just one percent on the wealth of the top one percent would produce $250 billion annually to address pressing needs for investment in infrastructure, human capital, and economic security for middle- and low-income families. Underscoring the inequality problem, a recent public survey by the Associated Press revealed that 23 percent of Americans now say they don’t plan to retire, owing in large part to their rising economic insecurity.

Article from the Growth & Justice newsletter .
Region Nine Accepting Applications for
College Age Commissioner
Are you, or someone you know, a college student in the region and interested in serving your community through local government? Region Nine is inviting applications to serve as a public interest commissioner representing college youth. This is an excellent opportunity for college students to participate in local governance, learn political and governmental processes firsthand, and gain skills that can be applied to future careers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

The College Age Public Interest Commissioner seat is a two-year appointment to represent college-aged youth on the Region Nine's Commission. The Commission, a unit of government itself, is comprised of leaders from local governments across South Central Minnesota and commissioners who represent public interests such as college youth. It directs Region Nine staff who work with and on behalf of local units of government to address economic, social, physical, and governmental concerns of a regional nature.

All Region Nine commissioners commit to attending quarterly meetings, which are typically held on the second Wednesday of the month from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and participating in at least one committee. Those interested should submit an online application. These applications will be reviewed by the Region Nine Budget & Personnel Committee, which will make recommendations to the full Commission as they vote to appoint a commissioner.

Applications are due at 12:00 p.m. on September 16, 2019.

Questions? Contact Peter Bode, executive assistant, at peter@rndc.org or 507-389-8864.
Agbusiness in Social Media
Friday, August 9th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

MSU-M College of Business,
Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
424 North Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN
We live in the Greenseam – one of the most fertile areas of the world. The business of food generates millions of dollars and fuels our regional economy and social media has changed the marketing landscape. Learn how local agribusiness leaders are using social media and digital marketing to grow. Hear success stories that will work in other industries and find ways that you can be part of the online conversations in this vital area.

Panelists will include Wanda Patsche, AGvocate and author of MN Farm Living and Kristeena Patsche, Digital Media Manager for the MN Soybean Growers Association.

This event is FREE and open to the public. 
In the Media
Region Nine, Sleepy Eye, awarded BCBS grant- Read the Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch article

Legion Selling Whiskey River Building; New Owners Plan on Sports Bar- Read the St. Peter Herald article

Whiskey River Building in St. Peter to Reopen as Sports Bar- Read the Free Press article

A Our View: Racism| - Inclusivity More Important Than Ever- Read the Free Press article

Rural Equity Project Turns Focus to Sleepy Eye- Read the Free Press article

Region Nine Awarded Grant Through Blue Cross and Blue Shield- Read the KNUJ article

Region Nine Development Commission Awarded Grant- View the KEYC video here
$$ Grant Opportunities $$
2019 Rural Child Care Innovation Program

Child care is an economic driver for rural communities across the United States; however, many communities are facing shortages of high quality child care. Through generous funding from the MN Department of Human Services, First Children's Finance is pleased to offer the Rural Child Care Innovation Program, an innovative community engagement process designed to address the challenges of child care in rural America.

Deadline: August 21, 2019
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneering Ideas Brief Proposals

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneer Portfolio accepts unsolicited proposals for projects that pursue innovative approaches to solving problems in health and healthcare. To receive a fair and comprehensive review from the Foundation, all proposals must address the strategic objectives of the Pioneer portfolio and fall within the guidelines of the types of proposals that they fund.

Deadline: October 15, 2019
Calendar of Events
September 2: Office Closed- Labor Day
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 www.rndc.org.
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