ELMORE, Minn., October 29, 2019Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), in partnership with the Huisman Family Donor Advised Fund, recently approved funding from its Small Enterprise Loan Fund to Heartland Retreat & Rental Hall in Elmore for working capital. Additional financing partners include First Bank Blue Earth and the Faribault County Economic Development Authority.

The Heartland Retreat & Rental Hall is a new business owned by Lissia Laehn. An avid quilter, Laehn was inspired to open her own retreat center after attending many quilting and crafting retreats. Laehn has repurposed an empty church in town into an event facility for this purpose. The retreat portion, which is inclusive of the entire facility, sleeps 18 and accommodates crafters with a large workroom and kitchen. The rental portion, which is on the main floor, is available for events including showers, parties, reunions and holiday gatherings with accommodations for up to 150 people. The loan was used for working capital.

The Huisman Family Donor Advised Fund, a fund of the Blue Earth Community Foundation, was created by John and his son Quinn Huisman in 2017. Donor Advised Funds are an Affiliate Fund program under SMIF that create great flexibility by allowing donors to support a variety of charitable causes. The Huisman Fund makes loans and grants to support economic development efforts in Faribault County and the adjoining areas. It is the hope of the Huismans that this fund will augment efforts to expand and reinforce the vitality of Blue Earth and the surrounding communities. John Huisman noted, “This project fits the funding goals and vision of our fund because of its positive impact on the Elmore community. The retreat center not only brings an exciting business to the community, but it preserves and provides a new purpose for a great building.”

The Huisman Family Fund is willing to collaborate on grantmaking and lending to further economic development efforts in the surrounding area. Start up or expanding businesses can apply for loans from the Huisman Fund from $2,000-$35,000 and are accepted on a rolling basis. To discuss lending opportunities or to submit a loan application, please contact Marcia Haley at 507-214-7021 or

IRS-designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and units/agencies of local, state, and federal government can apply for grants; each year up to $10,000 will be available for grantmaking. Grants are available to support organizations, projects and initiatives impacting economic development efforts. Grant requests are accepted on a rolling basis. For grant inquiries or to submit a request, please contact John Huisman at 507-525-6426 or

SMIF provides a range of finance and management assistance services to start and grow businesses. SMIF is an equal opportunity lender. This loan was funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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Katie Godfrey
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