Open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
Closed at 3:30 p.m. on Fridays, Memorial Day through Labor Day
The RNDC office is closed most major holidays. Please go to the Calendar for more information.
Our staff follows a hybrid schedule. Please call ahead or contact an RNDC staff member to schedule a meeting.
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For directions to Region Nine’s offices click here.
Nicole Griensewic’s passion for public service is reflected in the accomplishments of the Region Nine Development Commission. These include national innovation awards for projects in transportation, welcoming communities, climate change, medical device manufacturing, and flood mitigation. As executive director of the economic development district in Southern Minnesota, Griensewic has made it a priority to foster collaboration and engagement by sharing Region Nine’s story both nationally and globally for over ten years.
Under her leadership, Region Nine has become an active member of the University of Minnesota’s Climate Smart Municipalities program with North Rhine-Westphalia. Region Nine is the first region to join the partnership. Since then, Griensewic has been asked to serve on the State of Minnesota’s Clean Economy Workgroup as well as a national group, Gender Equity in Transportation (GET) Collaborative.
Griensewic is an active board member for multiple organizations throughout Minnesota. After serving as an executive committee member for the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation studies, Griensewic was selected to be the organization’s first female Chair. Griensewic also serves on the National Association of Development Organizations’ (NADO) board of directors, the Greater Minnesota Partnership board of directors, South Central College’s Center for Agriculture as an advisory board member, and Minnesotans for the American Community Survey as a board member.
Griensewic is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and was recently honored with the Alumnus Award. Griensewic is currently completing an executive certificate on economic development from the Harvard Kennedy School. Griensewic’s background also includes extensive private sector and non-profit leadership experience.
Nathan George joined Region Nine in February 2022 as a communications specialist. He brings with him experience in design, communications, social media, and project management.
Nathan is a Mankato native and has lived in the area most of his life. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2015. Before joining Region Nine, his experience was in the print and advertising industries.
Ky Battern joined Region Nine in December 2021 as the organization’s Finance Director. His work includes maintaining the accounting systems, financial reporting, and budget forecasting for Region Nine.
Ky earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Accounting from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010 and soon after earned is Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license in 2011. His career started in public accounting while working as an auditor for CliftonLarsonAllen within the government and manufacturing industries. Ky later went on to pursue a career in government/school finance, and most recently served as the Business Manager for the Le Sueur-Henderson School District for four and a half years prior to joining Region Nine.
Courtney Wright joined Region Nine in August 2023 as a Lending Specialist. Her work includes leading Region Nine’s Revolving Loan Fund.
Courtney is a Minnesota native, growing up in a small town in Renville County. Prior to joining Region Nine, she worked at a financial institution for over 8 years. Courtney is a graduate of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, where she completed her Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Project Management and her Bachelor of Science in Finance degree. Courtney is looking forward to assisting local businesses succeed and thrive through the Revolving Loan Fund program.
Community and Economic Development
Kristian Braekkan joined Region Nine in February 2018. His work relates to resource development, economic development, and industrial projects.
Kristian completed his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in 2010. His research on industrial relations spans a wide variety of contexts, such as steel, coal, health care, manufacturing, and service industries. He has presented and published his research domestically and internationally.
Alejandra Bejarano joined Region Nine in August 2021 as an economic recovery planner. As a previous Region Nine intern and Fellow for the Lead for Minnesota fellowship program, she is enthusiastic about continuing to work with Region Nine in creating vibrant and resilient communities.
Alejandra just graduated with an MPA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Alejandra hails from Colombia and moved to the United States at a young age to play college tennis. Having a deep interest in research, Alejandra did her capstone project on corruption and institutional trust. She has diverse background experience in both the private and public sectors and is passionate about exploring new cultures, as she speaks multiple languages.
Joel Hanif joined Region Nine in September 2019 as a community development planner. His work includes community and economic development planning.
Joel is a native of Columbus, Georgia and a new transplant to Minnesota. Prior to joining Region Nine, he worked as a regional planner and community developer for the River Valley Regional Commission in Americus, Georgia. There, he worked on local and regional comprehensive plans, Community Development Block Grants, and other planning and grant projects. He became an AICP certified planner in January 2019. Joel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a Master of Environmental Planning and Design from the University of Georgia.
Paola Ferrario joined Region Nine in June 2022 as a community development planner. She brings with her experience in business, startups, incubators, ecosystem development and innovation.
Paola is from Asunción, Paraguay. She studied Communications at the National University of Asunción and specialized in Entrepreneurship and Innovation with the Young America’s Business Trust and Mashav in Haifa, Isreal. She served as Vice President to the Global Entrepreneurship Network Paraguay. She has participated in four programs of the America’s Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Paola is fluent in Spanish, English, German, Portuguese and Guaraní.
Sam Sharp is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he majored in Biology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Sam joined Region Nine in November 2022 as the Energy and Sustainability Planner. In this role, Sam will be supporting the integration of clean and renewable energy systems into South Central Minnesota through technical assistance, grant writing, and identifying funding opportunities applicable to these initiatives. Through these efforts, Sam will work alongside interested communities to aid in their development towards equitable, sustainable, and economically resilient futures. Sam has a background in environmental consulting, where he was able to ascertain firsthand experience working on large scale energy projects across multiple sectors. Additionally, his academic background allowed him the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience relating to the natural world and will help identify sustainable initiatives that can be approached through community collaboration. Sam has been inspired by the interest and motivation existing in the communities Region Nine serves, and greatly looks forward to the continued growth and opportunities that lay ahead.
Sabri Fair is a graduate of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he majored in Environmental Studies and Geology. Sabri joined Region Nine as a Lead for Minnesota Sustainability Fellow in August 2021. In this role, he will be working to foster a more sustainable and equitable economy in South Central Minnesota. He is excited to work with community members on existing projects and to envision new developments that will make the region economically resilient. To do this, Sabri will draw on his life experiences growing up on a farm in Michigan, living in Zanzibar, and his internships with organizations like Land O’Lakes. He is excited to learn from everyone he meets along the way and serve communities as they create economies they are excited about! Sabri is also looking forward to exploring the natural beauty and food that the region has to offer.
Aaron joined the Region Nine team in 2021 as a Research Associate specializing in human geography and geospatial information systems. Aaron uses his expertise to conduct spatial analyses regarding economic development as well as community and industry resilience.
Originally from California, Aaron brings to Region Nine over 15 years of experience as a small business owner, contractor, and electrician and is passionate about supporting rural economic development. After losing his business to a wildfire in 2017, he chose to return to university to take action and to help his fellow business owners and community members from a development position.