April 2010 – Volume VIII, Number 4
Compiled and edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy & Jane Leonard
–Across the Field
Across the Field: To Reinvent Minnesota to Excel Again, Expand the Framework & Change the Equation – Join Us this June to Create the Minnesota Rural Urban Partnering Council
By Jane Leonard
After a three-month journey and sabbatical across Australia I return to Minnesota this week with many experiences and many ideas from this land of wide open spaces and generous people. It’s what happens when you give yourself a chance to see life from a different perspective. Three years of planning and saving money to go was worth every sacrifice.
One idea I have had, though, began in Minnesota before I left. It stays strong in my brain and heart: that to prosper well and sustainably into the 21st century and beyond, Minnesotans need to get conscious of and support the elemental foundation that rural Minnesota plays in our economy, environment, and society. We need to understand and encourage the fundamental rural urban interdependence that has and will always underpin our Minnesota vitality.
We need to drop our urban chauvinism (a term I did pick up Down Under where they have also reached a stage in which the cultural influence of the “bush” has diminished and the culture of the city is on the rise).
To survive and thrive in the 21st century, we need to change the equation and embrace a planning and development framework that recognizes the entrepreneurial connections between rural and urban (which we strongly understood in the economic beginnings of our state but have forgotten in the last 50 years because we’ve become so urbanized).
To create that framework, we need people who clearly understand and can build policy and practice to underpin a healthy interdependence again between the rural and urban people, places, and resources of our state.
You can be one of those people by coming to the Small Town Symposium and Rural Urban Gathering in Morris the evening of June 9 and all day June 10 at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Register at http://www.morris.umn.edu/cst/symposium/2010.
There we will assemble the initial task force to create a Rural Urban Partnering Council, people who can share ideas, support connections and build partnerships that reignite the rural urban interdependence so essential to strengthening our shared vision and vitality – in local communities and in the community of Minnesota.
Contact me by email (at firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you would like to stand for election at the Rural Urban Gathering to represent your region on the Task Force or nominate someone who could. (We are using the six Minnesota Initiative Foundation regional boundaries — see description and map of boundaries at http://www.mcknight.org/greatermn/index.aspx — and the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area to initially outline the total of seven geographical locales of the Task Force membership). Task Force members should be available to meet in person or by phone approximately once per month from June to December 2010.
Thanks to funding from the USDA Rural Development (for the Rural Urban Connections project) and the Blandin Foundation, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. and our co-host Center for Small Towns we are able to offer a limited number of scholarships for registration and travel to the Small Town Symposium and Rural Urban Gathering.
Expand the Framework – Change the Equation – Reinvent Minnesota! Be there in Morris this June!
–The Department of Justice has released the third competitive grant solicitation through the Second Chance Act for funding mentoring and other transitional services to help reintegrate juvenile offenders into their communities. State and local government entities, Indian tribal governments, public universities and colleges, and faith-based and community-based nonprofits are eligible to apply. Deadline: April 27, 2010. For more information and to apply, go to: http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/grants/solicitations/FY2010/SecondChanceActMentoring.pdf.
–USDA is offering grants to nonprofits, public agencies, and Indian tribes for grants to provide increased access to technology to foster education, training and health care resources for people living in rural areas of America. Deadline: May 18, 2010. To get more information, visit: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-6007.htm.
–USDA has issued a NOFA to nonprofits for Household Water Well System Grants to relend to homeowners to construct or repair household water wells for existing homes. Deadline: May 31, 2010. For more information, read the NOFA at: http://www.usda.gov/rus/water/docs/Water%20Well%20NOFA.pdf.
–2010 NMTC Round Open – The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the opening of the 2010 round of competition for tax credits under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program. Program spurs investment of private sector capital in distressed communities by providing a tax credit for taxpayers who make qualified equity investments in designated Community Development Entities (CDEs). For more information about the NMTC program go to: http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/programs_id.asp?programID=5 . The fiscal year 2010 round will have $5 billion of tax credit authority available. Applications are due by June 2nd. The Notice of Allocation Availability (NOAA) is available at: http://www.cdfifund.gov/docs/nmtc/2010/2010%20NMTC%20NOAA%20FINAL%204%205%202010.pdf and the application is available at: http://www.cdfifund.gov/docs/nmtc/2010/2010%20NMTC%20Application%20Final%204%207%2010.pdf .
–USDA has funding available for Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) of up to $250,000 open to nonprofit and public agencies to improve business opportunities in rural areas. Deadline: June 28, 2010. Projects should be designed to help rural communities in the region create wealth so they are self-sustaining, repopulating and thriving economically.
The RBOG program provides grants for technical assistance and planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural cities or towns of 50,000 people or fewer. Funding under the RBOG program can be used to pay for economic planning, technical assistance, and training for rural communities, entrepreneurs or economic development officials. Under this round of funding, priority consideration will be given to applications that best demonstrate strong regional or multi-jurisdictional collaboration, referred to as ‘great regions’, leadership capacity, and those that represent varying demographics (including underserved and under-represented communities). The amount of funding available is $2.48 million.
To be eligible for funding, an applicant must be a public body, non-profit corporation, Indian Tribe or cooperative with members that are primarily rural residents. Applicants must also have significant expertise in the activities proposed and the financial strength to ensure the objectives of the proposed grant can be accomplished. For more information, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-6860.htm.
—The Resilient Organization Fund program of Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN Foundation the Nonprofits Assistance Fund of Minnesota and others are providing workshops to help nonprofits discover new ways to sustain their mission. On April 29th The Resilient Organizations Fund and Southwest Initiative Foundation are hosting a workshop in Marshall on developing support through fundraising and marketing. It will be high quality training – and Blue Cross Foundation is making it available at no cost to nonprofits! For information and registration go to: http://www.resilientnonprofits.org/home/calendar/?event_id=19 or contact Lois Schmidt at 507-537-0273 or LCSchmidt@bremer.com
–2010 Minnesota Bicycle Tourism Summit. Registration is now open for the Bicycle Tourism Summit to be held at Breezy Point Resort on Thursday, April 29, 2010. http://guest.cvent.com/EVENTS/Info/Summary.aspx?e=54c0437d-f7a3-4333-ba41-f76540521f07
Educational sessions and time for networking will both be offered at this one-day workshop. Topics include “Getting Started – Preparing Your Town or Business to Welcome Bicycles” led by a panel of experts in planning bicycle tours and providing services to bicyclists. For a complete schedule of topics and speakers go to: www.industry.exploreminnesota.com/2010-bicycle-tourism-summit/.
— Living Green Expo will be held Saturday, May 1, 2010 – 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday, May 2, 2010 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand, St. Paul. Over 100,000 Minnesotans have attended the Living Green Expo over the last eight years, making it an annual spring tradition and a great place to learn about healthy and sustainable living. This free, family-friendly event is one of the largest and most successful green events of its kind.
There are a number of new features this year, including: increased expert involvement to answer questions and help build personal goals, a series of Eco-lounges that discuss issues and green topics, a marketplace with Eco-Artists and local farmers, more than double the local food options and a Gubernatorial Forum that lets attendees hear candidate views on clean water and clean energy. For more information go to: www.livinggreenexpo.mn
—-Relationships Matter: Volunteerism in Immigrant Communities. The Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) and St. Cloud Area Volunteer Coordinators present results of recent MAVA research on Wednesday, May 5, 2010 from 12:30- 3:30 pm at St. Cloud Public Library, 1300 W St. Germain Street, St. Cloud.
Minnesota has experienced dramatic changes in population over the last 25 years with one of the highest rates of growth in diversity in the United States. How can your volunteer involvement tap into Minnesota’s growing diversity?
- Learn the results of recent Minnesota research on volunteerism conducted by MAVA and Dr. Mai Moua of Leadership Paradigms
- Hear about volunteer practices in Somali, Hmong, and Latino communities
- Explore the value immigrant volunteers offer to your organization
- Assess the readiness of your organization to engage immigrant volunteers
Presenter: Mai Moua, Ph.D., of Leadership Paradigms
Cost: No charge for SCAVC members $10 MAVA members $20 general public
Get more information and to register! Visit www.MAVANetwork.org/Diversity for resources and the full research report!
—Planning the Future of Minnesota’s Parks and Trails – Devoting two hours of your time to attend an input session can help shape the future of a tourism generator for your area – Minnesota parks and trails. You are invited to play a key role in the creation of Minnesota’s state and regional park and trail legacy. An estimated $40 million in legacy money each year will be dedicated to natural resource based parks and trails of regional significance. Help develop the vision, goals, and priorities for the regional and state park and trail legacy plan. Bring your knowledge and experience to the discussion to make the state and regional park and trail system a more valuable resource for Minnesota tourism. Please make time to attend these meetings and weigh in on the need for both development and marketing of existing products. A total of 16 meetings will be held statewide in May and June. The first meetings are scheduled for May 6, 2010 in St. Cloud, May 11, 2010 in Baudette and St. Paul, and May 12, 2010 in Thief River Falls and Forest Lake. For a complete list, go to: http://industry.exploreminnesota.com/mn-parks-and-trails/.
—SBA American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Small businesses and lenders can still benefit from many of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiatives. This conference is intended to help you learn about survival strategies for small businesses in the months ahead. Conference attendees will leave with tools to tackle the challenges of a tough economy.
- Small business owners will learn new marketing techniques as well as financing options to them.
- Lenders will learn more about government programs available to them. Ultimately helping their small business client.
May 11 – Walker at the Northern Lights Hotel & Casino and
May 12 – Biwabik Giants Ridge Gold & Ski Resort
Both meetings are from 9 am – 12:30 pm and are FREE! They are able to offer this training program free of charge; however, registration is required due to limited space. Register via email at: Minneapolis.MN@SBA.Gov . Please include the following with your registration:
- Name(s) of attendees
- Date & City of Location
- Contact Information
—Minnesota Rural Health Conference will be June 28-29 in Duluth. For more information go to: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/conf/index.html
–Save the date for the second Midwest Rural Assembly, August 16-17, 2010 in Sioux City, NE! For more information, contact email@example.com or call (612) 870-3429. Future information on conference registration, speakers, and topical sessions will be available at www.midwestruralassembly.org .
–Minnesota Cup Competition is an annual, statewide competition (now in its 5th year) that seeks out aspiring entrepreneurs and their breakthrough ideas. Contest winnings this year will total more than $130,000. This competition is for all entrepreneurs, whether your breakthrough idea is high tech or no tech, whether you are just putting your ideas into a business plan or if you’ve been out building your venture. It is particularly for entrepreneurs, inventors or small business persons either working on an innovative new business concept – or generating less than $1 million per year in revenue.
The 2010 Minnesota Cup is set to launch on March 29, 2010; however, the Social Entrepreneur division has officially launched. 2010 divisions include: BioSciences, Clean Technology & Renewable Energy (new for this year – see http://www.breakthroughideas.org/page/1/clean-green.jsp ), General, High Tech, Social Entrepreneurship, and Student (for students 19 – 25 attending a college or university in MN). Entry deadline is May 21, 2010 (deadline is April 23, 2010 for the Social Entrepreneurship division.) Contest details, and more information on how to enter can be found at: www.breakthroughideas.org
—Honor your fellow nonprofits with a Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Award. What better way to share the significance of a nonprofit you work with, support, and know does outstanding work? Nominate them for a Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Award! http://www.minnesotanonprofitawards.org/ MCN has partnered with MAP for Nonprofits http://www.mapfornonprofits.org/ to honor six leading nonprofit organizations in Minnesota. The Minnesota Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Awards offer a unique tribute to Minnesota’s nonprofit sector each year by showcasing some of our state’s most promising nonprofit organizations and their programs. Emphasizing the contributions of nonprofits and their importance to Minnesota’s high quality of life, the awards recognize significant achievements in the areas of:
• Anti-racism Initiative
• Responsive Philanthropy
• Overall Excellence
Along with the honor and distinction of being named a leader among Minnesota’s nonprofits, award recipients will receive a one-of-a-kind art glass award, a profile in Nonprofit News going to 12,000 nonprofit leaders, a video production documenting their accomplishments and a financial award (except in the case of the Responsive Philanthropy award). Act now to be part of this process! Nominations for the Nonprofit Mission and Excellence Awards are accepted now through May 14, 2010. http://www.minnesotanonprofitawards.org/nominate.htm Learn more about the criteria, cash awards and other prizes at www.minnesotanonprofitawards.org.
Help define the next generation of exemplary nonprofits — nominate an organization or apply today.
—East Central Arts Council seeks Grant Review Panel Members. The East Central Regional Development Commission is seeking individuals to sit on grant review panels for the East Central Arts Council (ECAC) Advisory Committee. Primary functions of the grant review panel members include reading, reviewing, and making recommendations about grant funding for local art projects and artist grants. ECAC grant review panelists will meet about one weekend morning meeting and will receive grant review training. Mileage costs are reimbursed. Ideal candidates are artists, members of art organizations, and/or art advocates.
If you are interested, or if you would like to nominate someone, please contact ECAC for the nomination form. Reach us by telephone (320) 679-4065 extension 30; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–The new Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act includes temporary tax incentives to encourage employers to hire new workers. Specifically, the new law creates a $5,000 tax credit for any business or nonprofit organization for every net new employee that they hire in 2010. The total amount of the credit for any one firm or nonprofit is capped at $500,000, to ensure that the majority of the benefit is targeted at small businesses and nonprofits. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/03/18/putting-americans-back-work
Businesses and nonprofits can also earn the tax credit by raising wages or increasing the hours of their current employees. These temporary tax credits will expire at the end of this year. For more information, you can go to MCN’s HIRE FAQ page to see answers to frequently asked questions about the new jobs and wages tax credits in the HIRE Act. http://www.mncn.org/HIRE_Act_FAQ.htm
–Angel Tax Credit the creation of an angel tax credit is a significant step forward in creating a 21st -century knowledge economy tax code that promotes investments in innovation, entrepreneurship and emerging high tech companies. The MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development is currently working out the details of the program; however, they anticipate applications to be available this summer. The department has put together a helpful “Angel Tax Credit 101” website. Here are a few highlights:
What is the Angel Tax Credit?
A 25-percent tax credit for investments in qualified small emerging high technology businesses, particularly those:
- Businesses in a high-technology field
- Businesses using new proprietary technology
What is the Purpose of the Angel Tax Credit?
The tax credit encourages job growth and job creation by small emerging high technology Minnesota businesses by providing incentives for making capital investments in these businesses
Who Benefits from the Angel Tax Credit?
Businesses, investors, workers and the state’s economy all benefit from the Angel Tax Credit.
- Businesses get the capital they need to grow
- Investors can manage the risk associated with investing a in new businesses
- Minnesota workers and the state’s economy benefit because the tax credit kick-starts emerging businesses and creates jobs.
The benefits of the Angel Tax Credit include:
- 25% individual income tax credit for qualified investors
- Refundable (non-transferable)
- Maximum – $125,000/year per individual
– $250,000 married filing jointly
- Program limits – 2010 – $11M
– 2011-2014 – $12M/year
R&D Tax Credit
Three positive changes were made to the research and development tax credit. First, it is increased from 5 percent to 10 percent for R&D expenditures below $2 million (above that the credit remains at 2.5%). Second, it makes the credit refundable. Third, partnerships and S-corporations are now eligible for the credit. These credits are paid for by repealing a low income fuel tax credit. View additional details on the Angel Tax Credit and R&D Tax Credit here. http://tinyurl.com/y74o8c7
—"Will the Rural Economy Rebound in 2010?" examines the state of the rural economy, the impacts of the recession and financial crisis on rural Main Street activity, and how the rural economy in 2010 may be shaped by the national recovery and stronger global economies. Go to: http://www.kansascityfed.org/Publicat/Econrev/ermain.htm?elaert=ER0318
— Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan includes the executive summary and full text of the National Broadband Plan, which began taking form in April 2009 and was finalized in March 2010. The plan makes recommendations to the FCC, the Executive Branch, Congress and state and local governments to ensure all consumers and industries in rural and urban America have access to affordable broadband computer networks. Go to: http://download.broadband.gov/plan/national-broadband-plan.pdf
–The Wealth Creation Working Group of Yellowwood Associates has released the third in a series of papers with the support of the Ford Foundation. These papers focus on Forests, Financing and Value Chains in Rural America. The Wealth Creation Working Group is exploring rural development based on wealth creation with a mission to create a framework for development that works economically, ecologically, and socially. To read and/or download any of these papers, please visit http://www.yellowwood.org/wealthcreation.aspx.
–The Carsey Institute has published a report on the 2010 Census, called “Rural Areas Risk Being Overlooked in 2010 Census.” Among its key findings, the report highlights several pockets of hard-to-count populations in rural America, notably: Blacks in the rural South; Hispanics in the Southwest border region; and American Indians on reservations in the Southwest and Northern Plains. To download the report, go to
–The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University and NeighborWorks America have published a paper on the foreclosure crisis called “Landscapes of Foreclosure: The Foreclosure Crisis in Rural America.” The publication can be read and downloaded at: http://www.jchs.harvard.edu/publications/communitydevelopment/w10-2_wodka.pdf.
–The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ April 2010 edition of Community Dividend features articles on leadership development in rural communities, foreclosure counseling costs, and financial education. Go to: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/issue.cfm?id=314
—Renew Rural America has resources, news and information that rural residents can access and utilize in providing leadership to their communities’ revitalization efforts. Go to: http://www.cfra.org/renewrural
—The Community Tool Box – The Community Tool Box, an online resource at:
http://ctb.ku.edu/en/ started in 1994 and is continually updated, contains a huge amount of free information on essential skills for building healthy communities. The Tool Box includes over 7,000 pages of practical guidance in creating change and improvement.
Maintained by the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, the purpose of this site is “to make it easier for people to bring about change and improvement in their communities. The Community Tool Box connects people with resources for learning the many skills required for this work and applying this knowledge in diverse cultures and contexts.”
Click on the Table of Contents at http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/index.htm to access 46 chapters through which you can reach nearly 300 different sections providing practical, step-by-step guidance in community-building skills. The chapters are organized into the following categories:
- Models for Promoting Community Health and Development: Gateways to the Tools
- Community Assessment, Agenda Setting, and Choice of Broad Strategies
- Promoting Interest and Participation in Initiatives
- Developing a Strategic Plan, Organizational Structure, and Training System .
- Leadership, Management, and Group Facilitation
- Analyzing Community Problems and Designing and Adapting Community Interventions
- Implementing Promising Community Interventions
- Cultural Competence, Spirituality, and the Arts and Community Building
- Organizing for Effective Advocacy
- Evaluating Community Programs and Initiatives
- Maintaining Quality and Rewarding Accomplishments
- Generating, Managing and Sustaining Financial Resources
- Social Marketing and Institutionalization of the Initiative
The site also includes a variety of other useful features, such as Ask an Advisor ( https://www.myctb.org/en/AskAnAdvisor.aspx) which allows for site users to request brief, personalized responses to questions about community work.
— DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. This wonderfully comprehensive web site contains accurate and updated information on all state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. It is a great first stop to learn about financial assistance opportunities related to renewable energy and energy conservation that are currently available.
Click on Minnesota in the map on the web site above and you can learn about the following in our state:
- Production Incentives
- Property Tax Incentives
- Sales Tax Incentives
- State Grant Programs
- State Loan Programs
- State Rebate Programs
- Utility Grant Programs
- Utility Loan Programs
- Utility Rebate Programs (many of these!)
The excellent site also contains sections on Rules, Regulations, and Policies and Related Programs & Inititiatives. Go to: www.dsireusa.org
— Reducing Energy Cost of Vending Machines – The Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) project, a public/private partnership funded in part by the state, is working across Minnesota to make businesses, residences, schools and churches more energy efficient by providing simple step-by-step guides – CERTified Campaigns – that detail how to take action and save energy. The first CERTified Campaign aims to curb the energy use of vending machines. For more details on costs and energy savings go to: http://vendingmiser.mncerts.org.
—Conservation Design Scorecard. Conservation Design is an innovative approach to development that provides an equitable way for communities to balance their development objectives with achievable conservation goals. That is why many growing communities across Minnesota are looking to Conservation Design as a way to accommodate growth while still conserving limited, yet cherished, natural resources.
But as these types of developments begin to spring up, so do questions: Are they as good as they could be when it comes to preserving the environmental integrity of the development site? Are they as good as they could be when it comes to creating a unique sense of place for a homeowner and a community? Is the application process conducted openly and transparently rather than behind closed doors with limited opportunities for neighbors and other interested community members to weigh in?
About the Scorecard – The Conservation Design Scorecard, a project of 1000 Friends of Minnesota, should help answer these and other questions, and if used as part of a community’s planning and zoning process, it should raise the bar for future Conservation Design developments that are put on the ground. This scorecard is intended to be used by planners, planning commissions, local officials, developers, conservation professionals, and citizens – the very people who helped create it. It can be downloaded for free at: http://www.1000fom.org/growing/lakes/conservation-design-scorecard
The scorecard is organized in a way that makes it easy to use. You don’t have to be an expert in Conservation Design to use or understand the scorecard, which points out that there are ten basic qualities to good Conservation Design. Each quality is explained in simple terms. For each quality, there are measurable criteria and points are awarded based on responses. If used properly, this scorecard can turn a so-so development application into a thoughtful, well-conceived application that any community would be proud to support and any developer would be proud to have associated with his/her name.
Help getting started. If you want to have someone from 1000 Friends of Minnesota come to your community to deliver a PowerPoint presentation about Conservation Design and how to use the scorecard, please send an email to Phil Hunsicker at email@example.com He would also be glad to share the PowerPoint presentation on the scorecard with you for your own use.
—Nutrient Best Management Practice (BMP) Challenge – Best Management Practices (BMPs) for fertilizer use are designed to save farmers money and maintain optimal crop yields. The BMP Challenge program works to give farmers growing corn for grain or silage an opportunity to test reduced nutrient and tillage rates on their fields, without worrying about loss to their income. (Some farmers exceed the BMPs to help assure a successful crop, and this program aims to cover their risks in testing the BMPs which may be at a lower application level than their current fertilization practice.)
Essentially, the Nutrient BMP challenge pays farmers cash if their yield and income are reduced by adopting the nutrient BMPs. It is available to corn farmers in Minnesota as well as a number of other states, for up to 160 acres per farm.
Farmers enroll their fields at least two weeks before applying commercial fertilizer using the information at the web site above. They apply their normal fertilizer rates to a check strip in each farm that they enroll, and then apply the university-recommended BMP fertilizer rates for nitrogen, phosphorus and/or potassium. The farmers assess their yield at the end of the season and if they find a loss they can receive a payment based on yield loss minus fertilizer savings. Crop advisors provide third-party verification of BMP implementation and yield harvesting.
(There is also a Reduced Tillage BMP challenge that Minnesota farmers are eligible for, which encourages use of no-till, ridge-till, stip-till, and other options.)
The BMP Challenge is a collaborative project of Agflex, the IPM Institute of North America, and American Farmland Trust, and is supported in part by grants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, McKnight Foundation, and others.
For more information go to: www.bmpchallenge.org
Send us your items for the next Rural Round-Up Newsletter. You can email items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Minnesota Rural Partners
1533 Grantham St.
St. Paul, MN 55108
phone (651) -303-5263