SMIF knows that our Greater Minnesota communities have a lot of offer entrepreneurs: a range of technical assistance and community bank partners, lower cost of living and a culture of collaboration and support. We need to make sure that people are aware of all the resources available to them.

Early childhood development is a complex issue. Unfortunately, despite the hard work of many, our region’s parents, providers and employers are feeling the ramifications of a still imperfect system. At Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, we get calls every week from concerned parents, educators and business owners.

On Tuesday, April 18, four southern Minnesota entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to judges at the second annual Ignite Cup business competition. The winner, Susan Sorensen Langer, founder of Live.Give.Save., will go on to be an automatic semi-finalist at Minnesota Cup, the nation’s largest startup business competition. Live.Give. Save. is located in Red Wing and is a member of Red Wing Ignite

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is excited to announce a new asset-based development model for its region's smallest towns: Rural Entrepreneurial Venture. In partnership with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, REV will help communities "grow their own" entrepreneurs as a way to grow their community's economic and philanthropic assets.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation's (SMIF) AmeriCorps LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) Initiative is accepting placement site applications from PreK education providers in its 20-county region. AmeriCorps LEAP members serve in early childhood education settings and work with children on social-emotional skill development to prepare southern Minnesota preschoolers for kindergarten.

Thanks to funds provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), 14 local food businesses will get to jump start their company through Feast! Smart Start Initiative. This new program designed by Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), in partnership with Renewing the Countryside, will give individuals advanced business training over a two-day period starting in April.

Think you need to travel to the Twin Cities for global goods and ethnic food? Think again! This coming Saturday, April 8, Mankato will host a Global Goods Bazaar from 11 am to 5 pm in the Ridgley Building (227 E. Main Street). At this Festival of Nations style event, shoppers can discover the amazing products being produced by local vendors of various ethnicities in southern Minnesota.

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