April 2009 – Volume VII, Number 4

This Compendium of Reliable Information and Informed Opinion is compiled and edited with loving care by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard

In this issue:

ACROSS THE FIELD – Renewing Our Civic Contract – by Jane Leonard

Much of the political and economic struggle these days in our local communities, state, and nation involves a weakening and perhaps even an ignorance of the civic contract we have had with one another.

The civic contract is not necessarily a legal contract. It is more of an unspoken but understood bond and trust that is the moral backbone of our democracy. It is an understanding that when we choose to live in a community with other people, we accept the responsibility to coordinate some of our individual resources, through municipal or state or national government channels, to ensure basic shared infrastructure and services that create a safe and livable place for all.

For example, if we want a more “walkable” community, for better health and safety, we each agree to pay for the sidewalk in front of our house, so that we have a shared walkway that gets us safely to our destinations and back. We each agree to pay for water and sewer services, so that we and the community have a safe and reliable water and sewer system for business and residential needs.

Think about your own understanding of the civic contract and share your thoughts with me. I’d be happy to share them with the Round-Up readers in next month’s issue.

Community Pride Contest Update
Look to this RoundUp newsletter next month for more details on the kickoff of the Minnesota Community Pride contest. We are ecstatic that the Minnesota State Fair has agreed to co-host the awards at the 2009 State Fair, so communities across Minnesota can be recognized for their great ideas, spirit, innovations, and perseverance through the economic crisis.

Update on Minnesota Rural Partners
Some readers have asked about the status of Minnesota Rural Partners. We are still here, run entirely by volunteers.
Like all of you, we have felt the effects of the economic crisis. The early days of Minnesota Rural Partners in the 1990s saw much investment from the federal government in state rural development councils such as Minnesota Rural Partners, to coordinate efforts between public, private and non-profit organizations working on rural development. That funding has been long gone. While the recent Farm Bill reauthorized the state rural development council functions, there is still no funding.

We made a decision to not actively seek funding from foundations or corporate giving because we don’t want to be in competition for those funds with the partner organizations that MRP has worked with over the years. We always said – the state rural development councils coordinate and incubate. We don’t compete for funding for projects that compete directly with partner agencies.

So we maintain a watchful waiting status. Perhaps with the change in the national administration there will again be some coordinating funding available.

We will continue to keep the newsletter going so we can share with you the compendium version of what’s going on across the state and nation. We’ll update the Resource Directory so you can have at your fingertips a statewide reach of resources. And we will soon launch the Minnesota Community Pride program as a part of our ReinventingMinnesota initiative, to lift up great ideas from the grassroots and share resources.


–For a terrific comprehensive summary of the stimulus bill, other informative resources, and how to access these monies, visit http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/stimulus. Also, the Minnesota Management and Budget office has posted an updated version of the report with much more detailed information. The information provided is a great resource for anyone trying to understand the impact the stimulus dollars could have on Minnesota. You can find the document here – http://www.mmb.state.mn.us/doc/citizen/summary.pdf

–Farmers Market Promotion Program offers funding up to $100,000 to increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Examples of direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities include new farmers’ markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to- consumer infrastructures. Application Deadline is April 27th. For more information go to http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateN&navID=Home&topNav=Home&page=FMPP&description=Farmers%20Market%20Promotion%20Program%20(FMPP)&acct=fmpp.

–Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources Grants – proposals are due May 1, 2009 for this annual program, offering $25.6 million in grants to be awarded spring 2010. Proposals are sought in 7 areas:
1. Water Resources
2. Renewable Energy Related to Climate Change
3. Habitat Restoration, Enhancement, and Acquisition
4. Invasive Species
5. Natural Resource Conservation Planning and Implementation
6. Environmental Education
7. Creative Ideas
For applications and information go to: http://www.lccmr.leg.mn

— Nonprofit Networking Meetings are informational meetings being held across Minnesota to share current nonprofit resources and gather feedback from organizations just like yours. Nonprofit staff and volunteers, members and non-members, and friends of nonprofits are all encouraged to attend. For information contact AmyJo Lennartson, regional coordinator, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits at amy@mncn.org or 507-469-2217 or go to: http://www.mncn.org/event_management.htm#southnetwork
Location Date Time
Redwood Falls
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 9 – 10 a.m.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:30 – 2 p.m.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 16, 2009 8:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Thursday, April 16, 2009 11 a.m. – noon
Thursday, April 16, 2009 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

— A meeting on community-based food systems will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 17 sponsored by Seventh District Congressman Collin Peterson, chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. The meeting will be held simultaneously at four locations and all locations will be connected by interactive video. In addition to University of MN – Crookston, the meeting will be broadcast on campuses in Marshall, Morris and Bemidji. Representatives from USDA Rural Development and members of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee staff will explain the various programs in detail, such as the Value Added Producers Grant, Rural Energy for America, Farmers Market Promotion Program, Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Research provisions, etc.
There is no charge for the forum. Please RSVP by registering at http://collinpeterson.house.gov, by calling Peterson’s Red Lake Falls office at 218 253-4356, or emailing JoAnn.Zutz@mail.house.gov. If you need additional information, contact Peterson’s Economic Development Officer, Toni Merdan at 218 849-7344.

–There will be 3 upcoming Arts Writing Workshops in Region 7E led by Dr. Kate Maurer and sponsored by the East Central Regional Arts Council (ECAC.) Representatives from all art forms are encouraged to participate. These workshops are for those interested in: writing effective arts project press releases; constructing artist résumés; composing artist statements and/or arts organization mission statements; and reviewing artistic events (for websites and blogs, promos, newspaper columns, etc.)

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2009
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Chisago Lakes Area Library Meeting Room, 11754 – 302nd Street, Chisago City, MN

Date: Saturday, May 2, 2009
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Princeton Area Library Community Room, 100 4th Avenue South, Princeton, MN

Date: Thursday, June 11, 2009
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Location: East Central Arts Council/East Central Regional Development Commission Office, 100 Park Street South, Mora, MN

To register, or for more information, contact ECAC Director, Mary Minnick-Daniels, by phone 320-679-4065×30, or via e-mail ecac@ecrdc.org There are no fees to attend, however, pre-registration is required as space is limited.

— The Minnesota WorkForce Center is offering a valuable and informative seminar for employers in northeast Minnesota: Hot Topics in Employment Law: When it’s your business, it’s your business to know the law! – Tuesday, April 21, 2009 from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm at the Mt. Iron Community Center. Registration fee is $25 per person and includes materials and luncheon. To register, call the Minnesota WorkForce Center in Virginia at 218-748-2200 and ask for Connie or Cindy. Registration deadline is April 14.

— Annual East Central Minnesota Business & Workforce Development Conference and Native American Business Fair will be held on April 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Grand Casino Hinckley Events & Convention Center. Business leaders, government agencies, and other organizations from around the area will discuss challenges they face in today’s economy and share ideas for getting through the recession during the East Central Minnesota Business & Workforce Development Conference. The sixth annual event – titled “Hope for the Road Ahead: Living Lean and Working Together.” The event is hosted by the Corporate Commission of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in cooperation with the East Central Shared Prosperity Alliance, East Central Minnesota Workforce Partnership, and the Northern Technology Initiative. For more information please contact Pam Wegner at 320-384-4645 or pwegner@grcasinos.com

— Central MN Alternative Energy Regional Collaborative Sponsors: Alternative Energy Sessions for Regional Businesses. These sessions will provide information on:
• conservation
• solar, wind
• methane digesters
• biomass gasification
We will identify the preferred type of location for each technology. Additionally, the consultants will deliver REGIONAL assessments that detail; the prep studies, installation, ongoing maintenance and other related expenses as well as tax incentives and funding mechanisms to identify when the “pay back” begins. Not all technologies are fit for each site; consultants will explain barriers to implementation of each technology and how to proceed should business be interested in exploring installation.
Time for all sessions is: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm with lunch provided!
Morrison County, May 5, 2009 – Location: Initiative Foundation, Little Falls MN (space limited to first 60 registrants)
Benton County, May 12, 2009 – Location: Immaculate Conception Church, Rice MN
Cass County, May 19, 2009 – Location: Pine River Backus School, Pine River MN
Aitkin/Mille Lacs Counties, May 26, 2009 – Location: 40 Club, Aitkin MN
Todd/Wadena Counties June 2, 2009 – Location: Central Lakes College, Staples campus
Crow Wing County, June 9, 2009 – Location: The Lodge, Baxter MN
FREE! Register at: registrations@regionfive.org For more information contact: Cheryal Lee Hills Email: chills@regionfive.org

–The Northeast Entrepreneur Fund introduces a new business learning program developed especially for artists who reside in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. C.RE.A.T.E. (Community Resources for Artists-to-Entrepreneurs) is designed to help artists turn their work into viable, income-producing businesses. Eligible participants include but are not limited to visual artists, sculptors, potters, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, and writers. The next class series begins May 12. For program details, visit www.entrepreneurfund.org/GNBcreate.htm,  call 218-623-5747, or email info@entrepreneurfund.org.

–The 7th Annual Symposium on Small Towns “Communities 2050: Building a Livable, Renewable and Responsible Future!” will be June 2-3 at the University of Minnesota in Morris. Registration is now open at www.centerforsmalltowns.org for this action-oriented Symposium focused on energizing local economies, educating and motivating our communities, capitalizing on political change, and celebrating rural living.

–2009 Nonprofit Leadership Conference – PRACTICAL LEADERSHIP: A Balanced Approach will be held Thursday, June 4, 2009 at the McNamara Alumni Center – University of Minnesota from 8:30 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. (registration opens at 7:45 a.m.). You will not be disappointed in this content-rich conference. Register now at www.mncn.org/practicalleadership.

–The Minnesota Critical Access Hospital and Rural Health Conference “Rethinking Rural Health Care: A Community Effort” will be held June 15-16, 2009 in Duluth. For more in formation go to: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/conf/2009/index.html


–The President’s Budget FY 2010: What’s In It for Rural America? The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) offers a brief on the President’s Budget and summarizes the main rural-specific proposals as well as some of those that could have important spatial implications, and organizes these proposals into eight broad categories. To read the brief, go to http://www.rupri.org/leftsidemore.php?selectedid=18.

–“Recession Catches Rural America” by Jason Henderson and Maria Akers of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reviews the state of the rural economy and explores how the recession could affect the rural economy in 2009. http://www.kansascityfed.org/PUBLICAT/ECONREV/ermain.htm?ealert=ER0327

–States and the Recession. The Pew Center on the States’ Stateline.org features a snapshot of how the recession is hitting all 50 states. To find the most recent unemployment and foreclosure figures for your state go to http://www.stateline.org/live/issues/Economy+&+Business.

–The 2008/2009 World Economic Crisis: What It Means For U.S. Agriculture – The world economic crisis that began in 2008 has major consequences for U.S. agriculture. The weakening of global demand because of emerging recessions and declining economic growth result in reduced export demand and lower agricultural commodity prices, compared with those in 2008. These, in turn, reduce U.S. farm income and place downward pressures on farm real estate values. So far, the overall impact on U.S. agriculture is not as severe as on the broader U.S. economy because the record-high agricultural exports, prices, and farm income in 2007 and 2008 put U.S. farmers on solid financial ground Moreover, the debt equity ratios in agriculture tend to be more conservative than those in most other sectors of the economy. There is much uncertainty concerning the depth and extent of the crisis. The outcomes for U.S. agriculture are dependent on whether or not there is a global realignment of exchange rates to correct current macroeconomic imbalances. See http://wwwers.usda.gov/Publications/WRS0902/

— American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: Small Business Overview and FAQ: An overview and question-and-answer sheet for small business owners, provided by the Small Business Administration… http://www.sba.gov/recovery/index.html  

–IRS information: The IRS is implementing tax-related provisions of the new economic recovery program as quickly as possible. Here are some key highlights… http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=204335,00.html?portlet=6

— The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provides funding to strengthen the delivery of health care, particularly in the area of health information technology. Approximately $31 billion was appropriated under Title XIII, as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act), to promote the adoption, implementation and effective use of health information technology. Two billion dollars in funding is directed toward strengthening federal and regional support of health information technology, promoting standards development, improving privacy, helping states promote health information technology, providing grants to states for electronic health record loans to providers, and expanding health information technology programs for clinicians and IT professionals. Approximately $29 billion of the total will be made available as incentive payments to individual health care providers and hospitals under the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
In addition to the HITECH provisions, the bill provides additional funding to community health centers for operations, capital and health information technology needs; adds funding to the USDA’s Rural Utilities Services for rural broadband development; and creates a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to include health care. The Minnesota Department of Health is evaluating opportunities for Minnesota and has created a HITECH http://www.health.state.mn.us/e-health/hitech.html Web page containing information and resources about the Act. The page will be updated regularly.

— Read the latest on Minnesota Health Reform http://www.health.state.mn.us/healthreform/index.html from Commissioner Sanne Magnan, M.D., and stay informed on opportunities for input on the fast-moving implementation of health reform. The Minnesota Health Reform site includes descriptions of the health reform package, including the Statewide Health Improvement Program, health care homes, payment reform, insurance coverage, workgroups and more. Subscribe online. http://www.health.state.mn.us/healthreform/govdelivery.html

–The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Web site HealthReform.gov http://www.healthreform.gov  summarizes comments from the thousands of Americans who hosted and participated in Health Care Community Discussions across the country and highlights the need for immediate action to reform health care.

–Energy Star Qualified Homes Guide. An internet resource designed to help you get projects on the road to green by meeting ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes standards. A link to rehab guidelines is also available. Resource guides are customized to your local office. Go to: http://www.lisc.org/section/goals/healthy/green_dev/energy_star/

–Exploring Alternative Farm Definitions: Implications for Agricultural Statistics and Program Eligibility. Meeting agricultural policy and statistical goals requires a definition of U.S. agriculture’s basic unit, the farm. However, these goals can be at odds with one another. USDA defines “farm” very broadly to comprehensively measure agricultural activity. Consequently, most establishments classified as farms in the United States produce very little, while most production occurs on a small number of much larger operations. While desirable for obtaining comprehensive national coverage, measurement and analysis based on the current definition can provide misleading characterizations of farms and farm structure in the United States. Additionally, more stringent requirements have been proposed for farms to qualify for Federal agricultural program benefits. This analysis outlines the structure of U.S. farms, discusses the current farm definition, evaluates several potential criteria that have been proposed to define target farms more precisely, and examines how these criteria affect both statistical coverage and program eligibility. See http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB49/

–Greening Tourism Businesses – Travel Green Minnesota is a collaboration of Explore Minnesota Tourism, the University of Minnesota Tourism Center, the MPCA and tourism businesses. It aims to protect the environment, promote tourism business practices that reduce environmental impact, educate travelers, and promote Minnesota tourism. At their new web site above is a newly developed Travel Green Performance Index.

The Index is a voluntary 11-page self-assessment designed to assist all tourism businesses. By scoring itself on practices in 9 categories, an individual business can determine its level of green performance appropriate to its circumstances. Results can be used to inform customers and other industry stakeholders and enable participants to improve their green performance. Go to: http://www.travelgreen.umn.edu/selfassessment.html

–Foreclosure-Response.org: A New Tool to Help Communities Prevent Foreclosures and Stabilize Neighborhoods – The National Housing Conference, the Center for Housing Policy, KnowledgePlex, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the Urban Institute have joined forces to launch Foreclosure-Response.org http://www.foreclosure-response.org/, a new Web resource that provides government officials, housing practitioners, and advocates with up-to-date information on a broad range of state and local policy solutions related to foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization. The Web site includes a comprehensive policy guide of strategies for preventing and responding to foreclosures, as well as access to interactive online discussions and tools. The site also allows users to create customized data reports and maps to identify areas in which to target resources and efforts.

–MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics of financial education. The site houses important information from 20 federal agencies on topics such as: buying a home, foreclosure prevention, deposit insurance, privacy, fraud, scams, balancing a checkbook, and investing in a 401k. Go to: MyMoney.gov http://www.mymoney.gov/

–An Illustrated Guide to Research Findings from USDA’S Economic Research Service. This book contains a sampling of recent ERS research illustrating the breadth of the Agency’s research on current policy issues: from biofuels to food consumption to land conservation to patterns of trade for agricultural products. New interactive chart book See http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB48/