ACROSS THE FIELD – Health Care Reform: Get the facts straight & think it thru. What do we need to do to be the best country in the world? By Jane Leonard.

A mild anxiety has been creeping into our lives lately. It’s frustration over the health care reform efforts, which in the heat and humidity of August have melted into embarrassing displays of rude, unproductive behavior at town meetings for the entire world to see.

Most people agree something has to change. The current system is broken, inequitable and not up to the job of keeping America ready for 21st century challenges and opportunities.

Health care reform is such a big change that it becomes open ground for every doomsayer and fear-monger.  I am still waiting for one of those fear-mongers to tell me what their solution is. It’s easy and headline-grabbing to bash the ideas of their opponents. It is much harder to think through the proposals and make educated and helpful efforts towards improvements.

But that is what we must do – gets the facts and think it through. If we do not act to improve our current system, we will continue to see declines in the health and well-being of our society. We will continue to weaken the ability of our citizens, businesses, communities, states, and country to compete economically, educationally, and socially with the rest of the world.

Just imagine if obtaining affordable health care was not a worry anymore for anyone in this country. Just imagine the cost savings because people would get the preventative care they need. Just imagine the entrepreneurial and creative energy (and wealth creation) that would be unleashed because “losing my health insurance” wasn’t a risk factor for starting a new business or endeavor.

Get informed and think it thru. Here’s an interactive side-by-side comparison of major health care reform proposals, on the Kaiser Family Foundation site. It includes proposals that have been formally introduced as legislation as well as those that have been offered as principles or in White Paper form. And here’s a quick primer from the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/10/health/policy/10facts.html?em

25th Anniversary Minnesota Community Pride Competition Showcase at the Minnesota State Fair September 6

Join your fellow Minnesotans at the Minnesota Community Pride Competition Showcase, Sunday, September 6, at the Minnesota State Fair, Carousel Park stage and exhibit tent, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over 30 communities and neighborhoods from across the state are competing for cash awards from the Minnesota State Fair.

At the showcase, all communities that entered the competition earlier this summer will be recognized for their community improvement projects, including comprehensive community and economic development, health care, arts & culture, entrepreneurship, natural resources and the environment, green energy, housing, and broadband initiatives.

The program includes several Minnesota Trivia contests, public affairs interviews by MinnPost.com journalists with Minnesota newsmakers, Charlie Maguire’s musical entertainment, and the finale at 12:30 p.m — the Awards Ceremony. The event is co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair, MinnPost.com, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., and the Blandin Foundation.

FUNDING

 —Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) – Funds for the Program are provided to MN  DEED from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), for the benefit of eligible non-entitlement local units of government (cities, counties, townships) through a competitive application process for a variety of community development needs. The SCDP Fact Sheet provides a detailed description of the program and how it can help your community.  Completed Pre/Short Form Applications are due Thursday, September 3, 2009.  For more information go to:  http://www.deed.state.mn.us/SCDP/ 

Minnesota Tourism Grants – Organizational Partnership Grant, Innovative Marketing Grant and Scenic Byway Grant guidelines for 2010 grants are now available. These three programs are offered to assist communities in attracting travelers to Minnesota.  Information on the programs and guidelines for each type of grant are posted on the Industry Web Site at: http://industry.exploreminnesota.com/grants.

If you are a Minnesota non-profit tourism or scenic byway organization and want further information about guidelines contact your Regional Manager:

–Central – Carol Altepeter 888-629-6466 or David Bergman 888-563-7777
–Metro – Gayle Junnila 800-757-1852
–Northwest – Carol Altepeter 888-629-6466 or David Bergman 888-563-7777
–Northeast – Tim Campbell 888-876-6784
–Southern – Dave Vogel 888-975-6766
OR call Explore Minnesota Tourism at 800-657-3637; 651-757-1848

Applications for Rural Hospital Planning and Transition Grants are due September 14. Applications and information are online or contact Doug Benson at doug.benson@state.mn.us of (651) 201-3842

Water/Wastewater Funding Programs  (Applications accepted throughout year)
USDA Rural Development provides a number of community facility and water/wastewater funding programs for eligible applicants including public bodies, non-profits, and Indian Tribes in rural Minnesota. If you have a project in mind, we encourage you to file an application at your local USDA Rural Development office to begin the application process.

Rural Development accepts applications for these programs at any time and is asking all rural communities, non-profits and Indian tribes with potential projects to get in touch with their local Rural Development office for more information.  For further information on these funding programs, please visit the Minnesota Rural Development web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn.  Once you are at the web site, click on the community programs banner for information on water/wastewater or community facilities programs.  You can also learn about opportunities for housing and business programs at this site. 

The Laura Jane Musser Fund’s Rural Initiative Program encourages collaborative efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions. This program supports projects in rural regions of Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and Wyoming that target a number of civic areas including economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education. The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer and must be able to demonstrate the rural characteristics of its location. Planning grants of up to $5,000 and implementation grants of up to $25,000 are provided. http://www.musserfund.org/rural.php  Deadline: October 15, 2009

Funding opportunities available at the Women’s Foundation.  If you are a nonprofit group, program or project that serves women and/or girls in Minnesota, here are funds available for grants with upcoming deadlines:

–Social Change Fund (http://www.wfmn.org/grantmaking/2009SCFRFP.shtml) – October 1, 2009
–girlsBEST (http://www.wfmn.org/grantmaking/2009_girlsBEST_RFP.shtml) – October 15, 2009

MEETINGS /TRAININGS

–The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is continuing its summer road-trip – the theme of the tour is “Advancing Economic Prosperity: Partnering to Shape Our Future.”  Three-hour-long sessions include Commissioner Dan McElroy’s overview of the economy, what happened in this year’s legislative session, and how federal stimulus dollars will be spent in Minnesota.  Breakout sessions focus on some of the tools that DEED offers for business and community development and how the agency is preparing for the future in terms of job growth, economic development and workforce innovations.  There is time for questions and answers, and a resource fair featuring representatives from state and federal agencies.  Local officials, economic and workforce development leaders, educators, business leaders, legislators and the media are encouraged to attend. Registration begins 30 minutes before each event.

People who plan to attend a session are asked to send an e-mail to Mary Schneider at mary.schneider@state.mn.us . They should include their name, organization and the location of the session that they plan to attend.

Details about the road show are also available at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com .  The remaining sessions are: 

Duluth, Thursday, Aug. 13, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
University of Minnesota-Duluth
Griggs Center
1049 University Drive

St. Cloud, Monday, Aug. 17, 1 to 4 p.m.
St. Cloud Public Library
1300 W. St. Germain St.

Fergus Falls, Thursday, Aug. 20, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Legacy Hall
1414 College Way

Brainerd, Thursday, Aug. 27, 1 to 4 p.m.
Central Lakes College
501 W. College Drive

Cultural Heritage Tourism Workshops – regional workshops on how to develop partnerships around cultural heritage tourism. Get some good ideas and network with others in your community and region.  Staff and volunteers from community arts organizations, art studios/galleries, history museums, heritage festivals, lodging businesses, visitor’s bureaus, chambers of commerce and other tourism marketing organizations should attend. Go to www.ontend.com to learn more.  There will also be Regional Panels on the “Success Stories” of partnerships between arts/culture/heritage and tourism organizations that are bringing larger audiences and increased business to their community.

Thief River Falls: Thursday Aug 13 at Best Western Hotel from 10:00am – 4:30pm
Two Harbors: Thursday Oct 1 at Grand Superior Lodge from 9:00am – 3:30pm
New Ulm: Wednesday Oct 14 at Turner Hall from 9:00am – 3:30pm
Paynesville: Monday, Nov 9 at Bug-Bee Hive Resort from 9:00am – 3:30pm

Registration is $45 if paid one week prior to the workshop; $59 thereafter; Registration includes lunch, break and workshop materials.  Register at: http://industry.exploreminnesota.com/culture/  -or- print registration form and fax to: 651/296-7095.

Agritourism Workshops – Would you like to learn what it would take to develop and run an agritourism business? What is the best way to market your agritourism enterprise? What liability, zoning, and management issues do you need to know about? How can others get involved in developing and building agritourism efforts in your community?  These questions and more will be explored during two Agritourism Workshops in August. Come and learn from a panel of successful agritourism business owners as they discuss the ins and outs of agritourism.  For more information about the workshops, please contact Christy James at christy@rtcinfo.org or by phone at 612-963-0467.

Tuesday, August 18, 11:00 AM – 3:00 pm
The Depot 
100 Aldrich Avenue SW
Wadena, MN

Thursday, August 20, 3:30 – 6:00 PM
Old Milan School Building
404 North 4th Street
Milan, MN

–MCN and the Nonprofits Assistance Fund are offering a new training – Planning for and Managing Uncertainty: Practical Financial Management Tools and Strategies.  In this two-hour training being held in two more locations across the state, you will work with a budget scenario template and a cash flow projection template. As an additional bonus, you are invited to bring your own financials and stay afterwards with any questions you might have.  You can learn more about this event (and many others) at MCN’s Web site: http://www.mncn.org/event_management.htm#FinMgt

Duluth – Wednesday, August 19, 1 – 3 p.m.
This event is co-sponsored with Lake Superior Initiative
Ordean Building, Room B/C
424 West Superior Street, Duluth, 55802
Fees: $25 for MCN Members/$35 for Nonmembers

North Mankato – Thursday, August 20, 1 – 3 p.m.
South Central Service Cooperative Conference Center
2075 Lookout Drive, North Mankato, 56003
Fees: $25 for MCN Members/$35 for Nonmembers

–“People Protecting Manoomin, Manoomin Protecting People” A Symposium Bridging

Worldviews. August 25-27, 2009 at the Shooting Star Casino Event Center, Mahnomen, MN. Traditional Anishinaabe lifestyles and cultural identity are intimately bound to the manoomin spiritually, physically and economically. Discussion will include ways in which Anishinaabe communities are protecting and sustaining the natural wild rice beds in their lands. In recent years the natural wild rice crops in various Anishinaabe communities have been negatively affected by weather, low water tables, and other natural phenomena. The dialogue could provide a venue to exchange knowledge and promote protective measures.  It is also a way to begin a process of consensus to bridge opposing worldviews. Registration is free for tribal community members. Non-Native registration is $110. To register online please go to: http://www.regonline.com/manoomin.

Free Employer Workshop – Anatomy of an EEO Investigation: De-Mystifying the EEOC Charge and Investigative Process.  A rare opportunity to hear directly from an agency insider, Maria E. Flores, Program Manager for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The workshop will be Tuesday August 25th  from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Duluth Workforce Center (Government Services Bldg.) in Conference Room A. 320 W 2nd St. Ste 205,  Duluth, MN.  Please RSVP @ 218-529-622.

Session information includes:

* how charges are filed      
* the types of charges EEOC receives        
* requests for information and documentation
* onsite investigations    
* types of decisions issued    
* determining damages/ remedy   
* benefits of settlement and mediation  
* practical tips on preparing your responses 

14th Annual Minnesota Development Conference – Opportunity in Crisis: Reality, Reinvent, Revitalize will be held October 1-2 at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel.  For further information go to:  http://www.deed.state.mn.us/events/DevConf.htm

SAVE THE DATE – 6th Annual Native Financial Institution Convening – October 27-30, 2009, Charlotte, NC.  Don’t miss this year’s Native Convening at the 2009 OFN Conference, including the Native Gathering pre-conference, Native training track, the presentation of the Native Awards and much more!  Learn, share and celebrate with your peers in Native community development finance and opportunity creation. For more information on the conference and to register go to:  http://www.opportunityfinance.net/knowledge/conference_resource_center/09/default.aspx?id=4120

Register now for the nation’s largest convening of nonprofits and foundations – right here in Minnesota. At the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits/Minnesota Council on Foundations Joint Annual Conference, you’ll be able to rub shoulders with national leaders, award winning nonprofits and experts from across the field.  Transforming Our Work: From Challenging Times to Hopeful Futures will be November 5 & 6, 2009 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre.  To learn more and to register, visit the Transforming Our Work website or Register Online at:  http://www.transformingourwork.org/?utm_source=MCNemail3&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AC

OPPORTUNITIES

The EDA (Economic Development Administration)Center’s new “Request for Assistance” for projects beginning in 2010 is now online at www.umcedacenter.org.  This Request for Assistance (RFA) is designed to solicit requests from community, county and regional economic development agencies seeking direct technical assistance to support their economic development activities.

The EDA Center does not specifically define the types of assistance that economic development agencies may need. Accordingly, the EDA Center will accept and review all requests for assistance from eligible applicants. However, there are some core competencies of the University that may help guide such requests. These include: market research; technology studies; workforce development studies & support; economic impact analysis; student-supported projects and internships; product development assistance; strategic planning services; statistical studies; technology deployment planning; and support of entrepreneurial program development. Due to the constraints of EDA funding, project time lines should be 1-year or less.

Please remember that eligible applicants must be municipal, county, tribal or regional economic development agencies.  Please contact Jack Geller at University of Minnesota, Crookston for more information. Phone: (218) 281-8248. Email: geller@umn.edu.  The deadline is August 31, 2009.

–National Arts Strategies (NAS) chose Springboard and the Twin Cities as one of their pilot sites for this new Future Leadership program.  Each participant in the Future Leadership event will receive a fellowship covering the full tuition of $500 for the leadership session (that means it’s free!) Acceptance into the program will connect participants to a national network of Future Leadership Fellows, and they will have access to management expertise and advice from National Arts Strategies and the NAS network for a year.  NAS describes their target audience:

    * Mid-career professionals, with 5-15 years of experience in the field interested in advancing to the next level of leadership, in part, by acquiring additional skills
    * Professionals who have just come into a leadership role in a smaller organization and are interested in pursuing additional formalized training
    * Professionals working their way up through larger institutions interested in understanding the politics and paths of advancement and in expanding their professional networks/mentors

For more information go to: http://www.springboardforthearts.org/AboutUs/NAS.asp and/or http://www.artstrategies.org/ and/or http://futureleadership.wordpress.com/

–In coordination with the Office of Higher Education, ORHPC will be administering a new one-time loan repayment program for large animal veterinarians who agree to practice in a designated rural underserved area and work full time in a practice that is 50 percent involved with the care of food animals. Program guidance and applications are expected to be available in the fall. For information, contact Deb Jahnke at debra.jahnke@state.mn.us or (651) 201-3845.

MISCELLANEOUS

–An interactive side-by-side comparison of major health care reform proposals is on the Kaiser Family Foundation site. It includes proposals that have been formally introduced as legislation as well as those that have been offered as principles or in White Paper form.

–The new Health Workforce Data and Information Clearinghouse site is online. ORHPC, Health Education Industry Partnership, Minnesota Hospital Association and Rural Health Resource Center assembled the health career education, employment and financial resources; general demographics; and health care professional data.

–Veterans who applied for enrollment in the Veterans Administration (VA) health care system on or after January 1, 2009, and were denied enrollment are being reconsidered. The VA is contacting nearly half a million veterans with no service-connected disability and with incomes above a certain threshold who may now be eligible for medical care. Provider information on TriCare, a component of the Military Health System for members of the military, their dependents and retirees, is on the ORHPC Resources Web site.

–The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has several small business publications available at their websites.  Many of these can be downloaded or viewed electronically, and some can also be ordered on book or CD at no cost to you.  Topics pertain to state laws and regulations for starting a business, franchising, employer’s guides, industry reports, and much more.  Go to:  http://www.deed.state.mn.us/publications/

–A steep recession and financial meltdown have led to tight credit markets in rural America. In the latest issue of the Main Street Economist, economist Brian Briggeman explores how credit conditions are evolving for rural business owners, shedding light on current credit markets and providing rural business owners information they can use to identify when credit markets turn. You can find the full article at: http://www.kansascityfed.org/home/subwebnav.cfm?level=3&theID=9825&SubWeb=12

The U.S. government’s Web site www.mymoney.gov is dedicated to teaching all Americans about financial education. The site provides financial education resources and on-line financial tools and calculators. The site includes the new Money Math: Lessons for Life curriculum designed to teach mathematical concepts using personal finance scenarios. View the curriculum now.

MyMoneyManagement.net is a unique industry-wide effort to provide consumers with comprehensive financial education resources to help guide their personal finance decision-making. The Web site provides information and encouragement to consumers in financial distress to contact their lenders or a U.S. Department of Justice-certified credit counselor.

The Financial Services Roundtable’s Housing Policy Council is collaborating with NeighborWorks America, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, and other lenders to support the 888-995-HOPE hotline and its foreclosure prevention counseling.

Attention on Rural America   This RUPRI article tells how this summer, top Obama Administration officials, including Cabinet Secretaries, will fan out across the nation to hold a series of discussions on how communities, states, and the federal government can work together to strengthen rural America. Go to:  http://www.rupri.org/leftsidemore.php?selectedid=24

–HUD GIS Tool for Communities – A free downloadable GIS tool with tutorial for communities that allows users to explore HUD project data as well as design and print custom maps.  Go to: http://hudhre.info/index.cfm?do=viewGIStoolIntro

Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) Tools offers the ability to assess the physical environment features and amenities, town characteristics, community programs, and policies that could potentially influence levels of physical activity among residents in rural communities.  Go to: http://www.activelivingresearch.org/node/11947

Send us your items for the next Rural Round-Up Newsletter, scheduled to go to press on September 8.  You can email items to jleonard@minnesotaruralpartners.org.

Advertisements