Region Nine Presents at National Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Forum

Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) presented at the National CEDS Forum that was held June 18-20, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. The National CEDS Forum is organized by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).   


The National CEDS Forum gathered local, regional, and federal partners to share best practices and resources to support effective CEDS. The forum organized as part of the NADO Research Foundation’s Stronger Regions program, was funded through a grant from the EDA.

As part of the first ever forum, Shawn Schloesser, community and business development specialist for RNDC, presented on CEDS in Action and the importance of bringing the right people to the table instead of the usual suspects to create a diverse voice. The forum provided fresh ideas and inspiring examples to guide RNDC’s planning, design, and implementation efforts to make the CEDS process one that is more inclusive, engaging, and supportive of local efforts to foster a resilient and prosperous region. 

The CEDS continues to be an important opportunity to engage with EDA and other federal partners to receive infrastructure and technical assistance grants.  However, it is much more than a static document developed to access certain types of federal funding.  It has real potential to be a road map that brings together many voices from RNDC’s nine-county area to form a common vision for economic prosperity and resilience.

What is the CEDS?

The CEDS is a locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning process and document.  An effective CEDS allows a region to maximize its economic development potential, as well as engage with the EDA and other federal partners to receive infrastructure and technical assistance grants.

An effective CEDS planning process identifies locally-grown strategies that guide regional economic development, encourage partnerships and collaboration, and improves economic outcomes and overall quality of life in a region.  The resultant document is updated at least every five years and includes:

  • Summary Background
  • Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis
  • Strategic Direction/Action Plan
  • Evaluation Framework

In addition, the concept of economic resilience is incorporated into the plan to strengthen the ability to avoid, withstand, and recover from events such as economic shifts, natural disasters, and impacts of climate change.

Lake Crystal developing detailed strategic plan

LAKE CRYSTAL — City leaders are looking for residents to guide them in creating a detailed strategic economic development plan.

“It helps ensure you’re doing things that are supported by the community,” said City Administrator Taylor Gronau. “And it gives you a plan. When businesses and people are looking at Lake Crystal, it gives them a sense that the city has a plan and they can see where they can fit in.”

Region Nine Development Commission is assisting the city of 2,500 people with the plan. A public open house will be Wednesday to get input from residents and flyers have been sent out seeking comments.

“We’ve gotten a great response from the flyer already. We have 161 responses,” said Corree Stamschror of Region Nine.

She said they often help communities develop comprehensive plans, but the one Lake Crystal is seeking goes further. “This is unique. A strategic economic development plan is a step further than a comprehensive plan.”

Continue reading the Free Press article.

A Strategic Economic Development Plan for Lake Crystal’s Future

Lake Crystal, MN – Region Nine Development Commission (RNDC) and the City of Lake Crystal are creating a strategic economic development plan that will guide the city as it looks to the 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.


RNDC and the City of Lake Crystal will hold an open house on June 12, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the City Hall community room to gain public input on the plan regarding their vision for Lake Crystal’s future. Residents are also encouraged to take a short survey at prior to this event.


“The City decided to complete an economic development strategic plan in order to lay out goals and strategies that will help us grow business, expand our tax base, and improve the quality of life for our residents,” shared Lake Crystal City Administrator, Taylor Gronau.


“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 their efforts 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 has an exceptionally educated work force and is strategically located within our region, so we are working hard to examine economic and market conditions as well as soliciting critical input from its residents through surveys and an open house in June that can be turned to sustainable competitive advantages for the city. 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.

Region 9 director completes world idea tour

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -Ideas from around the world could soon be coming to Southern Minnesota’s agriculture and economic development.

Region Nine Development Commission Executive Director Nicole Griensewic Mickelson recently traveled to Puerto Rico as part of the Americas Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship program.

There she exchanged ideas on best practices for business development.

Mickelson also traveled to Germany, where she exchanged ideas on the future of workforce development and the future of food.

She says now she hopes to keep the conversation going.

“I think we have a lot of really great partnerships, and I won’t be surprised if we do have some specific projects with them in the future,” said Griensewic Mickelson.

She will serve as an ACE Ambassador for the next two years.

View the KEYC article.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Eleventh Americas Competitiveness Exchange

WASHINGTON – From May 18-25, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and International Trade Administration (ITA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of State and the Organization of American States (OAS), will participate in the Eleventh Americas Competitiveness Exchange (ACE) on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico.

ACE has been recognized as a successful tool for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, furthering the ability of U.S. businesses to compete at home and abroad. Previous hosts have found ACE to be an important vehicle to advance commerce and trade between them and participating nations.

For ACE 11, nearly 50 high-level representatives from 22 countries will explore global and regional partnerships as well as economic development opportunities.

“ACE is an important tool in showcasing the incredibly innovative capacity of U.S. regions and their ability to forge global commercial relationships in support of U.S. companies,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Dr. John Fleming. “We look forward to demonstrating how Puerto Rico’s emerging innovation economy can help drive new private investment to the Island to spur mutually-beneficial business deals and advance local resiliency efforts.”

Continue reading.

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Region Nine Development Commission Talks Future Of Improvement Program

The Region Nine Development Commission met Wednesday afternoon to review MnDOT’s Area Transportation Improvement Program for fiscal years 2020 – 2023.

The $285 million program will bring much needed support to the roads, bridges, and infrastructure in the nine-county region. Public input is essential to ensuring taxpayer funds are invested wisely, so the community was invited to look over the draft and provide feedback.

“They’ll see things for Highway 14. They’ll see things in every single county. There are roads and bridges that are a priority, there’s trails that are priority and also as I said the safe Routes to school will be in there too. Transportation is more than just moving cars it’s about public health, it’s about our environment, it’s also about our economies, so all three of those things are really important to the people that live in this region,” Shawn Schloesser with Region Nine said.
Portions of the draft will be included in a state plan, which will go for approval before the Commissioner of Transportation.

–KEYC News 12

Mankato bucks trend of rural population decline

MANKATO — In 29 of 30 non-metro counties in southern Minnesota, it’s the same story — more Americans are moving out than moving in.

Only Blue Earth County has seen population growth via domestic migration in the first eight years of this decade, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau this month. It was part of a trifecta for Mankato — more births than deaths, an increase in foreign-born residents and more Americans making Mankato their home than former Mankatoans moving elsewhere — that pushed the county’s population up by 3,414 to 67,427.

Blue Earth County has now moved ahead of Rice County as the 13th most populated among Minnesota’s 87 counties.

“I think a lot of community leaders have been really thoughtful about how we attract and retain people,” said Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission.

Continue reading the Free Press article.

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