July E-Newsletter

Read about upcoming events, funding opportunities, and more in the latest issue of Region Nine’s E-News!

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Rural equity project turns focus to Sleepy Eye

SLEEPY EYE — An initiative aimed at promoting inclusivity in rural communities will expand into Sleepy Eye this year.

The Rural Equity Learning Community — a partnership between nonprofit Region Nine Area Inc., Greater Mankato Diversity Council and the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality — received a $200,000 grant this week from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Minnesota for the project.

The groups will work with Sleepy Eye stakeholders for one year before turning the focus to another community the following year.

Corree Stamschror, Region Nine communications specialist, said the expansion adds to the work the group did with five other communities in recent years. Sleepy Eye Public Schools and the city’s economic development administration will help shape the project to its needs this time around.

“The program is designed in a way that Sleepy Eye will choose their initiative and pilot it over the next year,” she said.

Continue reading the FreePress article.


Region Nine Development Commission’s nonprofit Region Nine Area Incorporated was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. The grant will help create and nurture more connected, resilient, and inclusive communities where all people have the support and resources to reach their full health potential. It will be used to expand the Rural Equity Learning Community, a learning cohort to share, examine, and explore inclusive best practices to create welcoming communities and strengthen local economies. Sleepy Eye will be the first location of this year’s cohort in partnership with Sleepy Eye Public Schools and Sleepy Eye Economic Development Administration.


-KNUJ Radio

Region Nine Development Commission Awarded Grant

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -Region Nine Development Commission is awarded a grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.

The $200,000 grant will be used over the next two years.

Its purpose is to expand the Rural Equity Learning Community, a learning cohort created to share, examine and explore best practices for a welcoming community.

The program is co–facilitated by the Greater Mankato Diversity Council and U of M Extension Center for Community Vitality.

Sleepy Eye is the first location of this year’s cohort partnership with Sleepy Eye Public Schools and Sleepy Eye Economic Development Administration. Next year’s location is to be determined.

View the KEYC video here.


June E-Newsletter

Read about upcoming events, funding opportunities, and more in the latest issue of Region Nine’s E-News!

Read Now

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 https://www.lakecrystalmn.org/surveys 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.