St. Peter American Legion Decides To Sell Whisky River

After St. Peter American Legion received the gift of Whisky River last fall, Legion Members had plenty of different opinions on how the organization could use the old restaurant.

Ultimately, they brought in Region 9 Development Commission to conduct a feasibility study.

“So the feasibility study was really looking at could they get an unbiased decision as to what are some options to help guide the committee and membership through,” explained Nicole Griensewic Mickelson of Region 9.

The in–depth study contained interviews with many in the community about the Legion as well as a wide range of data.

“Being able to gather that qualitative and quantitative data as well as looking at different traffic patterns, commuter labor sheds and as well as looking at the industry, industry trends with restaurants,” added Griensewic Mickelson. “So looking at what is the density for how many bars and restaurants in a certain geography and being able to provide them with that data.”

View the KEYC video.

St. Peter American Legion votes to sell Whiskey River

ST. PETER — The former Whiskey River restaurant is back on the market.

Members of St. Peter’s American Legion decided not to move into the larger building on Highway 99.

“It’s far too big for our use and would be far too expensive for us to run,” said Legion member Shawn Schloesser.

Nicollet County Bank donated the former restaurant and bar to the William R. Whitty American Legion Post 37 late last year.

Legion leaders hired the Region Nine Development Commission to study whether the veterans service organization should move from its home on West Nassau Street. The study concluded the more than 9,000-square-foot former restaurant would be too costly for the Legion to update and operate.

Legion members met Monday night and made a nearly unanimous decision to sell the property and use the proceeds to modernize its existing building and programs.

Schloesser, chairman of the committee formed to lead the Whiskey River decision, and Post Cmdr. Dave Arpin said they will now turn their efforts toward making the post “more welcoming” to all community members.

Legion leadership said the Whiskey River gift was a blessing, but it also created dissonance among post membership over how to move forward.

Schloesser said he was relieved when the feasibility study yielded a firm recommendation that the Legion should not try to reopen the restaurant — at least not by itself.

“Although the former restaurant and bar could lend itself to be an attractive space, the downsides come with potentially debilitating potentials,” the study warned.

Continue reading the Free Press article.

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Free Help for Minority Owned Businesses in Southern Minnesota

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation based in Owatonna has teamed with the Region Nine Development Commission and the Faribault Diversity Coalition to recruit minority-owned business leaders.  Fifteen businesses are being sought out to take part in the 2019 Prosperity Initiative cohort. Eligible businesses include those operated by minorities, women, veterans, persons with disabilities and or low-income in the 20 county region.

Continue reading the KRFO Radio post.

Doctor preaches resicilency through farm stress

NORTH MANKATO — During his presentation on how farmers can and must take better care of ourselves, Dr. Amit Sood said addressing high stress levels begins in the initial moments of our days.

Sood founded the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Resilient Mind program and has authored books on stress management, background which made him a fitting speaker for a local series centered around agricultural resiliency. The Region Nine Development Council organized the Friday event at South Central College in partnership with the college, the state Department of Agriculture and Minnesota State University.

Noting how farmers are navigating stressful financial and technological environments, Sood drew a clear distinction between the matters in and out of their control. An individual farmer can’t do much about economic policies and grain prices, he said, but they can change how these uncontrollable factors impact them.

“Resilience isn’t that we won’t experience adversity,” he said. “It’s that we’ll recover faster.”

Continue reading The Free Press article.

A complex problem

Two bills introduced in the Minnesota Legislature aim to increase child care access and space across the state.

To Albert Lea Children’s Center Executive Director Sue Loch, however, the legislation does not address the need to pay child care teachers more, which she said is needed to increase child care access.

One bill, authored by Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, and Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, awards $3 million in grants to Minnesota Initiative Foundations for planning, coordination, training and education to expand child care access. The money is expected to be used to help providers with business improvement planning, quality mentoring and workforce development.

The second bill, authored by Sen. Jerry Relph, R-St. Cloud, and Brand, aims to have more child care spaces through the Child Care Capital Grant Program, which would provide grants to child care providers, local governments and regional economic development organizations in Greater Minnesota to cover up to 50 percent of costs to build, upgrade or expand child care facilities to meet state requirements and increase capacity.

Continue reading the Albert Lea Tribune article.

Free business coaching for minority-owned businesses

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, in partnership with Region Nine Development Commission and Faribault Diversity Coalition, is recruiting minority-owned business leaders for a new cohort of its Prosperity Initiative.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 29 percent of Minnesota’s population in 2040 will be people of color, an increase from only 4 percent in 1980. In response to this rapid growth, the Prosperity Initiative was designed to provide education and business resources to minority business owners and educate resource partners on the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter.

SMIF is seeking 15 businesses to participate in a 2019 Prosperity Initiative cohort. The program provides directed, educate resource programming, while also creating a unified and coordinated resource structure, informing partners of best practices and creating opportunities for minority populations to network and access the business community. All resources are free for participating businesses. Eligible participants include minorities, women, veterans, persons with disabilities provide low-income business owners in SMIF’s 20-county region.

Continue reading the Albert Lea Tribune article.

Tackling the child care crisis at all levels

Last May U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar sat inside the conference room of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce office building and listened to community stakeholders share child care issues during a roundtable discussion.

Chamber President Brad Gruhot said child care used to be a cost issue, but he now told the senator “it’s also an availability” issue.

“Right now, a lot of directors and in-home providers are going to tell you the joy is being taken out of the business,” Kari Condezo also told the senator. Condezo is director of the Southwest Minnesota State University Child Care Center. “A lot of in-home providers are quitting because it’s getting pushed to the regulations.”

Condezo also revealed she sees a decline in availability for child care and the waiting lists are long at all the centers. Condezo’s remarks are supported in a study conducted by the Center of Rural Policy and Development which reported Greater Minnesota lost more than 15,000 child care spots between 2006-2015. The report claims the decline is due to significant decline in in-home providers.

Meanwhile, child care has also been discussed at local county commission and city council meetings for past couple years.

Minnesota Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and Sen. Bill Weber, R-Luverne held a town hall meeting in September and child care providers shared their frustrations.

It was at that meeting that Condezo pleaded with the lawmakers to do more than talk about the child care issues. She asked them to go to work.

“Minnesota is an innovative state. Be innovative,” she said.

Maybe state lawmakers heard her plea because they are finally putting the wheels in motion to address child care issues.

Two bills dealing with child care issues were introduced at the Legislature Monday. The bills authored by Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, and Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, both create and fund new grant programs with the shared goal of increasing child care capacity while fostering successful and sustainable child care business operations in Greater Minnesota.

Nicole Griensewic Mickelson, executive director of the Region Nine Development Commission and president of the Greater Minnesota Partnership, hailed the bills as “a promising start to bringing more child care options to Greater Minnesota and helping providers run successful businesses,” she said.

Continue reading the Marshall Independent article.