Grants and loans are available through the Huisman Family Fund for organizations and businesses in Faribault County and surrounding areas.

Tim Penny, President and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), urges us to welcome not deter immigrant entrepreneurs. Ibrahim Hussein of Somali American Cultural Society of Owatonna (SACSO) and Sunrise Grill is one great example of the contributions new entrepreneurs can make.

Ten years after the flood that damaged many homes and businesses, Rushford is on a bright trajectory.

SMIF's Annual Bus Tour visited Le Sueur, Nicollet, Rice and Sibley Counties this year. We spent the day visiting clients and others who are making a difference in their community. We use this time to hear from stakeholders and listen to community leaders. In this month's op-ed, Tim reflects on what we heard.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) partners with Minnesota Compass to host listening sessions about providing data and information to Greater Minnesota.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) AmeriCorps LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) Initiative received continued funding of $348,303 in the nationally competitive 3-year grant round to host 20 FTE AmeriCorps positions. LEAP members focus on school readiness in preschool settings in SMIF’s 20-county region. SMIF's program is one of 13 in ServeMinnesota's portfolio of programs.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is accepting applications for its new Small Towns Grant program. Towns with populations of 5,000 or less in its 20 county region are eligible to apply. Ten grants of up to $10,000 each will be awarded.

When people try to find Minnesota’s secret sauce to our high quality of life and seemingly common sense (comparatively speaking) approach to government, there’s sometimes mention of the Itasca Group. This is a group of top Minnesota business leaders who get together every Friday morning to discuss ways to collaborate and advocate for a stronger Minnesota. Itasca Group exemplifies how Minnesotans come together to find win-win, common sense solutions, and then back those solutions with capital. In early June, I got together with a lesser-known version of the Itasca Group: the Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs).

This spring, SMIF granted $234,400 through these special Community Collaboration Grants. $94,000 went to 10 Early Childhood Initiative projects and $140,400 went to 15 community foundation projects. In Tim's May op-ed, he talks about how SMIF's 30th Anniversary Community Collaboration Grants are taking root.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently approved six grants totaling $78,540 to support asset-based approaches in the areas of early childhood and economic development.

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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