Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Awards One Big Thing Grant

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved funding for three projects through its $100,000 One Big Thing Grant and Regional Community Growth Initiative (CGI).

Thirty communities surrounding the Rochester area have collaborated through SMIF's 2014 One Big Thing Grant to participate in the Regional CGI. The CGI was developed to bring together community leaders in southeastern Minnesota to position themselves for future growth in response to the City of Rochester's implementation of Destination Medical Center and Journey to Growth led by Rochester Area Economic Development Inc.

The CGI encouraged leadership in the bordering communities to analyze assets and design a strategy for collaboration. Through this $100,000, these communities will be well positioned to implement their collaborative projects leading to future growth and prosperity. The counties of Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, and Winona all have community representatives participating in the CGI process.

The projects chosen for funding include:
- A Regional Marketing Campaign will review existing marketing efforts, then facilitate a series of discussions with regional stakeholders in order to better leverage and expand upon existing marketing efforts with the intention of developing and implementing a regional marketing strategy which will lead to increased economic activity. This project is led by Chris Giesen and was approved for $20,000 of grant funding.

- SE MN Together project will align and coordinate workforce solutions that address the labor shortage in southeastern Minnesota through creating a collaborative environment and forming a coalition to work with the businesses in our region to develop, stabilize and grow the regional workforce. This project is led by Natalie Siderius and Sheila Kiscaden and will receive $80,000 of grant funding.

- Connect Trails Project intends to form a larger regional trail system by developing a master plan and seeking additional funding. The enhanced trail system will promote healthy living and active lifestyles for all ages, provide additional recreational activities, and increase tourism into communities connected to trail. This project is led by Chris and Ann Priebe and was approved for a $20,000 challenge grant.

"We are pleased to support these asset-based approaches to support these surrounding communities," says Tim Penny, President/CEO. "We're excited to see them use the opportunity of DMC to strengthen and grow regional collaborations."

For more information on these projects, contact Pam Bishop at 507-455-3215 or

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