Examples of the Impact Made by RDOs Include the Following:
Building Welcoming Communities
Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) and Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) have recognized the importance of creating opportunities for new residents in the respective regions. With aging populations and labor shortages in many industries, it is important for rural areas to welcome all residents and provide opportunities for everyone to prosper regardless of backgrounds. These initiatives seek to engage stakeholders in discussions and programs that can assist communities to embrace and celebrate diversity. In 2018, RNDC and partners launched a new initiative, Rural Equity Learning Community, to convene 45 regional stakeholders in a regional learning cohort to share, examine, and explore inclusive best practices through education and relationship-building to facilitate capacity for local community action. Participants represent five communities and engage in a range of small and large group interactive discussions.
The Mid-Minnesota Development Commission has recently written successful grant applications to the Blandin Foundation to help fund Broadband Feasibility Studies for both Kandiyohi and Meeker Counties. Staff is working with its counties to help foster improvements in broadband throughout the region.
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission is the lead agency and fiscal agent for a $400,000 federal Economic Adjustment Assistance grant from the EDA to leverage all available resources to help Koochiching County and the surrounding region recover from the permanent workforce reduction (265 jobs) at the Boise Paper Mill in 2013. The grant is helping develop a long term economic adjustment strategy and assist existing small businesses to grow.
The Southwest Regional Development Commission, in partnership with the Rural Minnesota Energy Board, operates a Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE program. This program allows for businesses to take out a loan to do a building energy retrofit and repay the loan through their property taxes. The energy saved by the business is enough to make the additional tax payments as well as put money back into the business.
This is the largest project of its kind in Minnesota and a model for rural scattered site solar development. Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) partnered with 4 electric utility companies/co-ops, 2 school districts, a community college, an energy equity firm and a $1.9 million-dollar grant from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund for a $3.5 million project to develop 6 solar PV systems, totaling 1.5MW in central MN. This project has saved schools thousands a month on their energy bill and delivers STEAM curriculum to enhance student learning. The Solar Schools project generated an estimated $7.8 million of economic activity in the region.
West Central Initiative (WCI) undertook an initiative to identify the condition and associated costs of repairing and replacing the water infrastructure (drinking, wastewater, and stormwater) throughout the region. In 2012, WCI created and funded a grant program titled: The Capital Improvement Plan Grant. This grant provides funding to communities in the region to develop a formal Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). To date, seven communities have received the grant, and are all currently in the process of developing their CIP.
Twelve aerospace companies in Duluth have sought the assistance of Arrowhead Regional Development Commission in determining the merit of working together to create economic opportunities through collaboration.
In a unique partnership with Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) and area communities, Northwest Regional Development Commission (NWRDC) completed comprehensive plans for the cities of Oslo and Warren in 2014. NMF encourages small towns throughout its coverage area to apply for grants to assist with strategic planning efforts as part of its Community Planning program. The community matches the grant dollars and the funds are used to hire NWRDC staff to conduct the planning process. The comprehensive plans and appropriate zoning ordinances are completed through a series of public meetings which engage community residents.
The Headwaters Regional Development Commission’s nonprofit subsidiary corporation, Headwaters Housing Development Corporation, has been involved in housing development for many years. The organization has developed more than forty single-family homes in partnership with the Bemidji High School over the past twenty years. This partnership has provided an opportunity for enhanced technical skills of the participating high school students and helped the community address its workforce housing needs.
Medical Device Study
The study, MedTech Connect, examines how and how well manufacturing and related industries leverage their geographic proximity to the medical manufacturing hubs in Minnesota. Region Nine Development Commission’s work aims, through a variety of methods, to make recommendations that will enable regional firms to optimize integration and alignment with the larger supply chains.
Supporting the Arts
The Meander Upper Minnesota River Arts Crawl is a three-day art sale and tour of artists’ studios in Chippewa, Big Stone, Swift, Yellow Medicine, and Lac qui Parle counties. The Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission is responsible for the financial, fundraising, administration, graphic design, marketing, networking, and communications. The Meander reported an economic impact in over $108,108 of art sales in 2018. A modest estimation is that an additional $144,000 was brought into the region for the weekend.
Revolving Loan Fund
All MADO members provide Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) programs that have aided in the development of their region’s economy. As of July 2018, there has been a total of 1,386 loans through these programs, totaling just over $82 million. These loans have leveraged approximately $782 million in funds. A total of 24,000 jobs have been created and retained as a result. Please visit member websites to learn more about their RLF programs.
The East Central Regional Development Commission‘s status as a federal economic development district, and a valuable collaboration with Pine Technical College and GPS 45:93, proved valuable in securing nearly $2.2 million recently toward the construction of the Entrepreneurship Center and Technology Business Incubator at Pine Technical College in Pine City. This project also represented a unique and successful financial partnership between DEED, PTC, and the federal EDA. The Center offers a number of professional services for startup business at free or reduced costs. The college’s customized training program is also co-located in the facility. Approximately 7,800 squ. ft. of adaptable “incubator” manufacturing space is available for new high-tech startup businesses.
Safe Routes to School
With the assistance of all the RDOs in the state, numerous school districts have been assisted in preparing Safe Routes to School Plans. These plans have led to the implementation of improvements to infrastructure that has made walking and bicycling to and from schools safer. The plans focus also on education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation measures that have increased the number of children that walk and bike to school.