Thursday, July 23, 2009

Entrepreneurial center names new director

excerpted from New York Mills Herald

Beth Pridday has been hired as the new director for M State's Business and Entrepreneurial Services Center, located in Detroit Lakes+. Pridday has 20 years of prefessional experience in marketing, advertising, public relations, fundraising and special events. She is an active member of the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the DL Kiwanis Club and is a volunteer with the Humane Society and Lakes Crisis & Resource Center.

Pridday and her husband own several businesses in Detroit Lakes.

Alexandria rated highest retail "pull factor" in state

excerpted from Alexandria Echo Press, 07-15-09

An analysis compiled by the U of M Extension Service shows that Alexandria has the highest retail sales "pull factor" in the state. That shows how much draw a community has bringing in people to shop. The study demonstrated a pull factor of 4.36, which means Alexandria has 4.36 times the annual statewide average retail sales per capita.

Copies of the 2007 Alexandria and Douglas County Retail Trade Analysis are available online at or by calling (320) 763-4545.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DEED awards nearly $16 million for small city projects

The Minnesota Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has awarded 39 grants totaling more than $15.9 million to hlep pay for improvements for housing, commercial property and infrastructure in Greater Minnesota.

West central Minnesota communities that have received grants include:

Ashby, $351,600, to rehabilitate 15 owner-occupied houses to benefit Ashby and Wendell.

Glenwood, $505,570, to rehabilitate 15 owner-occupied houses, 10 rental units and eight commercial buildings to benefit the cities of Glenwood, Sedan and Evansville and Polk and Douglas counties.

Hancock and Morris, $288,170, to rehabilitate 10 owner-occupied houses.
Parkers Prairie, $389,121, to rehabilitate 16 owner-occupied houses to benefit Parkers Prairie and Deer Creek.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Atlas helps you navigate socio-economic waters

How does the median household income differ between Minnesota counties? What are the dropout rates? How many physicians or dentists are there in a particular area?

There are many factors that can indicate a county's social and economic health. The Center for Rural Policy and Development, along with the University of Minnesota Extension Service and the Blandin Foundation, have compiled indicators by county in many topics, including people, economic vitality, health, housing education and more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News from Traverse County

excerpted from the Wheaton Gazette, May 26, 2009

Officials break ground for Browns Valley Floodway Diversion Project - Saturday, May 26, local and state officials helped break ground for the new floodway diversion on the Little Minnesota River. In 2007, a flood devastated part of Browns Valley. The city and the local watershed district worked with many state and national organizations to develop a flood control plan. Mayor Jeff Backer personally thanked West Central Initiative for providing the funds to organize the recovery effort back in 2007.

Traverse County's jobless rate falls during April - For the first time since last October, the unemployment rate fell, from 9.3 percent in March to 7.5 percent in April. Thirty less people were unemployment in the county. The jobless rate also fell below state and national averages for the first time this year.

Bids accepted for sewer rehabilitation and lift station and force main project - The city of Wheaton accepted bids for two major projects in the city. Officials are hoping construction will start mid-June. The bids came in lower than expected.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New wastewater technology could help clean up lakes

excerpted from Detroit Lakes Tribune, May 24, 2009

SJE-Rhombus, Detroit Lakes, has a new treatement system that could be the next great thing for the health of Minnesota Lakes. The compact system takes wastewater and turns it into water nearly clean enough to drink.

The new system uses a form of ceramic filters that provides microfiltration down to .2 microns (about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair). It also requires a much smaller space--about 200 square feet compared to about 4,000 square feet needed to handle 10,000 gallons a day under old technology. The filters also last about 20 years, three to four times longer than conventional filters.

The new technology has implications for water-scarce parts of the world, in that it would essentially allow water to be continually reused.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Minnesota manufactureres buoyed by new state investment in Growth Acceleration Program

Enterprise Minnesota’s highly popular Growth Acceleration Program (GAP) received a significant shot in the arm this week when Governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law the legislature’s appropriation of $1 million for the program.

GAP is a matching grant that enables small manufacturers to access business improvement services. First funded in 2007 with one-time funding of $750,000, GAP has since helped more than 80 Minnesota manufacturers realize a $15 return for every $1 spent by GAP. Some companies realized as much as a $40 to $1 return on GAP.
"Clearly this is a program that works,” said Bob Kill, president & CEO of Enterprise Minnesota. “The outcome of this action will be job security at a time when Minnesotans need it. GAP is a tremendous resource for the Minnesota communities and employees that depend on the economic security that these manufacturers provide.”

“At a time when the state has limited resources, we try to focus on programs that can demonstrate effects that create jobs,” said Minnesota State Senator Kathy Saltzman (Woodbury). “GAP is an excellent example of what seems like a small investment producing huge results.”

The newly funded GAP program includes a three-to-one match for companies with fewer than 50 employees, a one-to-one match for those with 50 to 100 employees, and a one-to-three match for companies with more than 100 but fewer than 250 employees.

Learn more about the Growth Acceleration Program.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

MN communities encouraged to apply as "Shovel Ready" site

DEED is encouraging Minnesota communities to apply for the state's new Shovel Ready Site Certification Program to facilitate the attraction of new business and industry.

The new program makes the site-selection process easier, faster and more predictable for companies looking to grow in Minnesota, said DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy.

The term "shovel ready" refers to commercial and industrial sites that have had all of the planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soils analysis and public infrastructure engineering completed prior to offering the site for sale.

Learn more about the Shovel Ready Site Certification Program.

Friday, March 27, 2009

West central Minnesota job seekers outnumber jobs 5-1

excerpted from Chokio Review, March 26, 2009

The latest Job Vacancy Survey from DEED shows that in west central Minnesota there are 6,700 unemployed workers competing for only 1,3200 unfilled jobs. This means that job seekers outnumber job openings by more than 5 to 1 (Figures for job seekers and job opendings from fourth quarter 2008).

Other findings include:
  • 60 percent of all openings are part time.
  • Only 45 percent of openings offer health care.
  • 27 percent require education or training beyond high school.
Get more area labor data from DEED.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rural Development seeking apps for water, sewer, storm water infrastructure financing

USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for its 2009 funding cycle for water, sewer and storm water infrastructure financing.

All public bodies, Indian tribes and non-profits with a service area of 10,000 of less qualify for funding. Eaxmples of eligible projects include water towers, water treatment plants, sewage treatment plants, pipes, treatment ponds and storm water systems. Funding is available through grants, direct loans and loan guarantees through traditional lenders.

Potential applicants should contact their local Rural Development office for further information. For a listing of offices, visit

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ethanol backers say they can add jobs

excerpted from Morris Sun Tribune, 2-21-09

Minnesota's ethanol industry could help produce jobs in a time they are most needed, agriculture supporters told the state's Senate agriculture committee Feb. 19.

Senators heard concerns that they should not cut off subsidies paid to ethanol production plants as they seek ways to balance the state budget. Ethanol supporters credit the funding with launching their industry, among the strongest in any state. Gov. Tim Pawlenty earlier targeted the program for cuts.

The ethanol industry had been quite profitable, but in recent months those profits have dried up.

Read entire article.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Manufacturing outlook: shaky but optimistic

excerpted from Alexandria Echo Press, 2-6-09

While a majority of Minnesota manufacturers say they expect the recession to last through 2009, even more say they are confident in their company's ability to weather the economic slump. This is according to a December survey of 400 manufacturing executives from across the state.

Minnesota cut 2,900 manufacturing jobs in December, and lost 15,600 jobs throughout 2008. Around Alexandria, a lack of business has also forced some manufacturers to temporarily cut back on production and, in some cases, workers, but despite the difficulties many say they remain optimistic.

Read entire article (requires a free online registration).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Bremer Emergency Fund offers financial assistance during difficult economic times

excerpted from West Douglas County Record, 1-27-09

The Otto Bremer Foundation and Bremer Bank joined forces to set up the Bremer Emergency Fund in order to offer a direct financial response to current economic challenges. In January, grants were given to 81 community organizations in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

In west central Minnesota, organizations receiving grant assistance included the Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action, The Salvation Army in several communities, and the West Central Minnesota Communities Action.

Learn more about grant guidelines and download an application.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Website will grow green tourism in Minnesota

excerpted from Morris Sun Times, 1-21-09

A new Travel Green Minnesota website has launched to provide information and best practices for Minnesota's tourism and hospitality industry.

The website at provides tools and resources to help tourism businesses and communities implement green practices that are good for the environment and business.

Consumer research shows a growing interest in travel and tourism that minimizes negative environmental impacts.

Friday, January 23, 2009

DEED announces free entrepreneurship program

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is offering a free program to help people start their own businesses.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and is open to people who are at least 50 years old, eligible for the federal Dislocated Worker Program and committed to starting a new business.

Learn more.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

State economist makes it official: We're in a recession

State economist Tom Stinson recently gave a "state of the economy" presentation for the Minnesota Budget Project (an initiative of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits).

Here are the highlights from his talk:
  • We are in a recession. Expect la oss of 55,000 jobs in Minnesota in 2009, across all sectors.
  • FY 2010-11 revenues are down $3.3 billion from end-of-session estimates back in May.
  • Watch job growth for signs of an economic recovery. National monthly job growth of 150,000 jobs indicates “normal” growth.
  • Some good news: Minnesota was recently able to sell $300 million worth of bonds. We couldn’t have done that in October.
  • The federal economic recovery package could be helpful in the short-term, and provide an estimated several hundred million dollars to the state in FY 2009 and something in the ballpark of $600 million in FY 2010-11.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Area businesses are saying "Let it snow ... and snow, and snow"

excerpted from Detroit Lakes Tribune, 1-4-09

The near-30 inches of snowfall received last month may have residents grumbling about all the shoveling, but snowmobile retailers couldn't be happier.

"The overall impact has been very good," said Charlie Okeson of Okeson Off-Trail Sales. "It's not necessarily just sled sales, it's every aspect of our business--parts, labor, service, clothing."

The DL Regional Chamber of Commerce reports many people stopping in to look for snowmobile trail maps. Lower gas prices have encouraged snowmobilers to take longer trips than at this time last year.

Sales of snowplows and snow removal equipment has also gone up.

Minnesota State Legislature - What's New

Alexandria Echo Press

Breckenridge/Wahpeton Daily News

Detroit Lakes Tribune

Fergus Falls Daily Journal stories

IN-FORUM: Fargo-Moorhead

Morris Sun Tribune : Morris

Perham Enterprise Bulletin : Perham

Pope County Tribune

News & Features from Minnesota Public Radio

Minnesota Legislature from Minnesota Public Radio