Asset-based community development process to help new entrepreneur initiative


OWATONNA, Minn., January 3 – As part of its mission to promote regional economic opportunities and collaborations, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) has invested in 30+ Community Growth Initiatives (CGI), typically working with one new community in its 20-county region each year. SMIF is happy to announce that Medford will be the Foundation’s 33rd CGI community in 2017-18.

Each CGI community commits to three stages of involvement: community visioning facilitated by SMIF, project implementation, and sustainable operation. The CGI community receives coalition support and project implementation grants of up to $20,000.

“The Community Growth Initiative is rooted in the Asset-Based Community Development model,” said SMIF Vice President of Economic Development, Pam Bishop, who works with communities throughout the year-long process. “It can be easy in our communities to long for ‘what was,’ but with the CGI process, we strive to help communities identify what’s working well and how they can leverage existing resources to create a better future.”

Medford residents are encouraged to attend the first phase of the Medford CGI; their “Bright Ideas Workshop” is scheduled for Thursday, January 25 at the Medford Outlet Center (6750 W. Frontage Rd between Dress Barn and Famous Footwear) at 5:30 PM. RSVP by January 15 on Facebook (Medford Community Growth Initiative) or by calling Christina Wetmore at 507-200-9131. “This process only works if there is active community engagement,” said Bishop. This is one of the factors SMIF evaluates when selecting new CGI communities.

Other outcomes from SMIF CGI communities include: The Minnesota State University Business Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship‘s new Mankato Makerspace program (opening early 2018), Northfield’s Riverwalk Market Fair; Red Wing Ignite, an innovation and entrepreneur incubator; Lanesboro Local, which provided the town with a grocery market; and Le Sueur’s community vision strategic planning group, which turned into an ongoing community foundation. 

For more information on SMIF’s CGI process, contact Pam Bishop at 507-455-3215 or