October 2013– Volume XI, Number 9

Compiled and edited by Deb Miller-Slipek, Ann Treacy, & Jane Leonard

— Across the Field

— Quick Study

— Funding

— Training/Meetings

— Opportunities

— Miscellaneous

— Federal Sites (special section of Federal news/websites during government shutdown – these sites may or may not work!)

Across the Field: “Federal Shutdown re-shapes October Rural Roundup content”

Dear Reader: We were happy last month to be planning for a column here by a guest columnist on a terrific information tool. We find this week, however, that we must postpone inclusion because the topic of the story – a web-based map supported by the Economic Research Service of the USDA – is not supported currently because of the Federal Government Shutdown (or should we say “showdown?”).

Whatever you call it, it’s a pain, not only to this monthly newsletter creation, but more so to the millions of people – all of us really – who depend on a fully functioning government to work in-sync with other sectors to support a fully-functioning, high quality community and economic life. We wish our congressional “leaders” would govern (rather than play injurious partisan games) heeding the oath of office they all took:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

And the first, defining line of the U.S. Constitution, our supreme law of the land, does specify what responsibilities and common goals our nation’s leaders (and we) have committed to:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Right now the domestic enemy is themselves (Pogo was right!). The rest of us – We the People – hope for the formation of a more perfect “Union” very soon to help us all uphold the rest of our Constitutional responsibilities.

– The Editors


HUD is offering grants to owners of eligible subsidized housing developments to hire staff to coordinate supportive services for elderly residents and/or residents with disabilities. Deadline: 10/14/2013. Click here for more information and to apply.

–LOWE’S Toolbox for Education ® Grants support projects in the following categories: technology upgrades, tools for STEM programs, facility renovations and safety improvements. Grant requests can range from $2,000 to $100,000. Deadline: 10/15/2013. Click here to visit the website and read more about this program.

The Laura Jane Musser Fund is taking applications now through October 16 for its Intercultural Harmony granting area. It promotes mutual understanding and cooperation between groups and citizens of different cultural backgrounds through collaborative, cross-cultural exchange projects.  For more information go to: http://www.musserfund.org/index.asp?page_seq=25

It also opens the Rural Initiative grant application today, supporting participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities. Grants of up to $25,000 are given to encourage collaborative efforts that will help to strengthen rural towns and regions in a number of civic areas including, but not limited to, economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education. Online applications will be accepted starting October 8 through November 6, 2013. Please see the Fund’s website at http://www.musserfund.org for more information.

CERTs accepting Seed Grant applications for clean energy projects.  The Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) is seeking proposals for Seed Grants to support community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding will provide technical assistance services for projects in seven Minnesota CERTs regions: Central, Metro, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and West Central. The primary objectives of the Seed Grant projects are to (1) encourage the implementation of community-based clean energy projects in Minnesota and (2) provide a forum for community education about energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and their economic, ecological, and community benefits. Project proposals are due by Oct. 18. View more information and the full RFP.

2014 Call for Preproposals NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant Program.  The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Research and Education Grant Program is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems.  The 2014 NCR-SARE Research and Education Grant Program Call for Preproposals is now available online.  NCR-SARE’s Research and Education (R&E) program supports sustainable agriculture innovators with competitive research and education grants. Individual grants range from $10,000 to $200,000. NCR-SARE expects to fund about seven to ten projects in the twelve-state North Central Region.

This year, NCR-SARE will be accepting online submissions for the Research and Education Grant Program using their online submission system. More information about the online submission system can be found in the call for pre-proposals. The deadline for Research and Education Program pre-proposals is October 24, 2013.  For more information, visit: http://tinyurl.com/o8ypv3s

Application materials are available for the Family Medicine Residency Grant program, a new grant program created by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013 to assist Family Medicine Residency programs outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. Step 1 applications are due October 25. If invited, Step 2 applications will be due November 25. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/funding/index.html#residency

The Community Assistantship Program at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs is pleased to announce a spring 2014 grant program. The grant will allow rural communities to hire a student to work on a project defined by those communities. The deadline for project proposals is October 30, 2013. Approved projects will run from January 9 to May 25, 2014. http://www.cura.umn.edu/CAP

Whole Kids Foundation is accepting applications for its School Garden Grant Program. Grants of $2,000 are available for garden projects at public and private K-12 schools in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Deadline to apply: 10/31/2013. http://tinyurl.com/os36xfc

–The Office Depot Foundation is offering grant support to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, libraries, and schools that bring systemic change to the communities they serve. The Foundation provides grants averaging $1,000 in three distinct categories. The focus of the “Giving Children Tools for Success” category is on activities that give young people tools to succeed in school and in life through education and inspiration. The “Building Capacity to Serve Communities” category targets programs that help nonprofit organizations to serve the needs of their communities efficiently. The purpose of the “Disaster Preparedness, Relief, Recovery, and Rebuilding” category is to support efforts that help people and communities prepare for disasters and rebuild and recover when disasters occur. Applications will be accepted through October 31, 2013. http://www.officedepotfoundation.org/funding.asp

–Application materials for the Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Grant Program are now available. The Flex program provides grant support to promote regionalization of health care services, improve access to quality health care services, and provide for the development and enhancement of rural health networks, including emergency medical service networks. Applications are due November 15. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/funding/index.html#flex

— An organization that supports American Indian nations and people working to recover and control heir homelands. ILTF is accepting Letters of Inquiry to support various aspects of Native land recovery, with a focus on reacquiring alienated federal lands. Grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to support Native land recovery efforts, with a focus on reacquiring alienated federal lands. Deadline is 12/2/13 to submit a Letter of Inquiry. https://www.iltf.org/grants/special-initiatives/land-recovery-efforts

–The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is accepting applications for Community Action Grants of up to $10,000. Grants are available to individuals, AAUW branches and AAUW state organizations as well as local community-based nonprofit organizations for innovative programs or non-degree research projects that promote education and equity for women. Deadline: 1/15/2014. http://tinyurl.com/lk876vb

— DOE offers funding for clean energy projects on tribal lands.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is offering up to $7 million to deploy clean energy systems in tribal communities. Through the “Community-Scale Clean Energy Projects in Indian Country” funding opportunity, up to $4.5 million is available for projects installing clean energy systems that reduce fossil fuel use by at least 15 percent in either new or existing tribal buildings. The “Tribal Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Deployment Assistance” funding opportunity offers up to $2.5 million for projects installing renewable energy and energy efficiency that reduce fossil fuel use in existing tribal buildings by at least 30 percent. http://energy.gov/indianenergy/resources/funding-opportunities

The CHS Foundation invests in the future of rural America, agriculture and cooperative business through education and leadership development and supports national projects related to its mission as well as programs within the CHS trade territory for regional multi-state, or statewide projects. The Foundation’s funding focuses on the following program areas: Cooperative Education, Rural Youth Leadership Development, Farm and Agricultural Safety, Returning Value to Rural Communities, and University Partnerships. All applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, with the exception of Cooperative Education applications, which are due in the fall of each year. http://www.chsfoundation.org/about.html


A new 2-minute tutorial helps you quickly access local data.  Looking for information about your county or city?  Compass researcher Jane Tigan demonstrates easy ways to access information for your area, including total population by age and ethnicity, median household income, crime rates, employment rates, and much more. http://www.mncompass.org/about/compass-toolbox.php

Poverty in Minnesota: 5 key facts and trends.  New poverty numbers were just released by the Census Bureau. Compass project manager Craig Helmstetter points out 5 trends to watch. http://www.mncompass.org/trends/ask-a-researcher/#.UkBZK4akpHQ


Free Webinar: Community Technology and Entrepreneurship Networking: October 10 from 3-4pm.
A number of Minnesota communities are working to bring technologists and users of technology together to increase interaction and knowledge sharing. This webinar will highlight these examples and give tips on how to start these events in your own community. In addition, metro area technologists often participate in interactive, innovative events called hackfests. We will hear from an experienced hackfest organizer on how to bring the combined knowledge and experience of your local tech community to create local applications that benefit the community.

Register now: https://blandinfoundation.clickwebinar.com/Community_Tech_Networking_Events/register

Upcoming Energy Savings Goals (ESG) Study Stakeholder Meetings.  Legislation passed in 2013 requires the Department of Commerce http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/topics/resources/energy-legislation-initiatives/ to conduct public meetings with stakeholders that results in a legislative report with recommendations on the statewide and Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/topics/conservation/ energy savings goals. Information on this legislation can be found in Minnesota Legislature House File 729 (HF729) 4th Engrossment, Article 12 Section 8. Stakeholder meetings and technical workgroups will be held in October and November at the Wilder Foundation and at the Department of Commerce.

This stakeholder meeting will be moderated with presentations from industry experts and a panel discussion with representatives from different stakeholder groups. Details regarding the stakeholder meeting process and agenda will be provided prior to each of the meetings.

ESG Study Stakeholder Meeting #1

ESG Study Stakeholder Meeting #2

Invitations will be sent to participants for the technical workgroups held from October 23 – 28, 2013.  All materials (proposals, meeting minutes, reports, etc.) will be posted on the Department of Commerce’s web site. http://mn.gov/commerce/energy/topics/resources/energy-legislation-initiatives/

Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable will be held on October 24, 2013

at the College of Saint Benedict. http://www.auri.org/2013/09/october-minnesota-renewable-energy-roundtable/

Join the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) on October 24-25 for North Star Nonprofits: Charting Our True Direction.  Minnesota’s largest gathering of nonprofit professionals in 2013, this two-day gathering will bring together nonprofit leaders and our allies to focus on ways we can embrace inclusion as a powerful strategy for building a stronger Minnesota together.  http://northstarnonprofits.org/index.html

Rural Health Community Forums – Little Falls and Breckenridge. 
Join Minnesota Department of Health ORHPC in gathering information and making recommendations about rural health care in Minnesota. Interested citizens, hospital administrators and staff, emergency medical services personnel, health care providers, and community organizers and leaders are encouraged to attend one of two upcoming regional forums http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/forums/index.html: in Little Falls on October 28 at St. Gabriel’s Hospital and in Breckenridge on October 29 at St. Francis Healthcare Campus. Your input will help shape state and national health care policies and activities. To attend, please register online. https://survey.vovici.com/se.ashx?s=56206EE355ECF878 For more information, contact Judy Bergh at 651-201-3843 or judith.bergh@state.mn.us.

Youth Summits – Minnesota Campus Compact (MNCC) is co-sponsoring–and several MNCC member campuses are hosting–Youth Summits by congressional district together with the Minnesota Youth Council. These summits will bring youth and adults together to consider the issues of top concern to Minnesota youth gleaned from a survey of more than 1,000 young people last spring: crime, safety, and gangs; bullying; and drug and alcohol use; as well as GradMinnesota goals to increase youth engagement, improve graduation rates, and support post-secondary success. Locations and dates confirmed so far are Carleton College on Nov. 6, Minnesota State University Mankato on Nov. 18, and St. Cloud State University on Dec. 3.  All summits will begin at 3pm. http://mnyouth.net/work/gradminnesota/activities/

Preparing Minnesota for Climate Change: A Conference on Climate Adaptation.  Minnesota’s first “Conference on Climate Adaptation”, designed for Local Officials, Planners, Engineers and Natural Resource practitioners, is scheduled to take place on November 7th at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Participants will learn about other communities’ early successes in developing adaptation strategies in areas such as transportation infrastructure, natural resources, human health, and agriculture. The morning and noon speakers will set the stage, and the afternoon will features breakout sessions describing successful case studies.

Thursday, November 7, 2013 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, followed by reception at the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul.  Fee: $60 – includes lunch, breaks, and parking. Afternoon reception features appetizers and a cash bar.  Registration is limited, so individuals are encouraged to register early.  For more information or to register, visit  http://tinyurl.com/pscnk93

Cooperatives = Community Development Conference will be held in Minneapolis on November 8th.  NCDF is co-hosting a conference http://tinyurl.com/nrqgs6q on the role of cooperative businesses and housing in community and economic development.  Organized by CoMInnesota, along with NCDF partners, Cooperative Development Services and Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, the day-long event at the Thrivent headquarters in downtown Minneapolis will bring together community and economic developers and cooperative developers from throughout Minnesota.

On November 12-13, 2013, at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, more than 500 global leaders in robotics research, design, business development, investment, law, and policy will share their insights into the worldwide explosion of robotics and autonomous systems at the Third Annual Robotics Alley Conference and Expo.  For more information go to: http://roboticsalley.org/overview.html

Save the Date for “Minnesota Tourism: A Bright Future”.  Mark your calendar now to attend the 2014 Explore Minnesota Tourism conference February 4-5, 2014 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Canal Park in Duluth. http://tinyurl.com/qxowrlm


The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) is seeking nominees for two Board of Directors seats. One nominee selected will represent a research and promotion council and the other will represent Minnesota agribusiness. http://tinyurl.com/ozwlkmf

Local Government Innovation Awards (LGIA)   
Are you a school, city, or county that has been innovating to improve services or reduce the cost of local government? Share your innovation for a chance to win $10,000 and a professional video highlighting your effort! Submissions are now being accepted until October 24https://sites.google.com/a/umn.edu/devlgia/

–The NBCC Foundation is currently accepting applications for scholarships to students working toward a graduate counseling degree who commit to practicing in rural areas after graduation. Applicants must be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s degree counseling program. Eligible programs and more information is available on the NBCC Foundation website. Applications due November 1. http://www.nbccf.org/rural/

Seeking Dynamic Workshops for Nonprofit Technology Conference.  Now’s your chance to share your expertise in areas of nonprofit technology or communications. MCN and MAP for Nonprofits are seeking proposals for 75-minute breakout workshops for the upcoming Nonprofit Technology and Communications Conference to be held on April 10, 2014 in Minneapolis. The deadline for submitting your proposal is 5 p.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013.  http://tinyurl.com/q4ds494

The National Civic League’s All-America City Award recognizes 10 communities annually for outstanding civic impact and action planning. The theme for 2014 is “healthy communities.” Monthly conference calls will take place from September of this year through February 2014. A letter of intent to apply is due November 15, and the final application deadline is March 18, 2014.  http://www.allamericacityaward.com/

IDEA Competition is Open for Applications.  In the last five years of the competition, nearly $300,000 has been awarded to Northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs.  The purpose of the competition is to assist the most promising local entrepreneurs in the commercialization of innovative products, processes and deliveries by connecting them to the best resources available, along with access to the capital it takes to launch a successful venture.  The competition will have three $10,000 cash prizes up for grabs this year.  The deadline is Nov 30th.  Go to: http://www.ideacompetition.org/enter.html

SciTechsperience launches with 100 matching grantsThe Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) is now accepting student and company applications for the SciTechsperience Internship 2013-2014 program year. SciTechsperience connects college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines to internships in small Minnesota companies.  http://tinyurl.com/p5kwh7e


Enrollment is opened in MNsure, Minnesota’s new health insurance marketplace. Health care organizations will play an important role in outreach and enrollment in the new system. MDH has developed two resources for providers: MNsure Provider Network FAQs and a list of current provider networks that will be offered on MNsure. MNSure also has a set of FAQs for Consumer Assisters available on its website, and the Minnesota Hospital Association has two Fact Sheets for providers: MNsure 101: Top 10 things to tell your patients and MNsure 101: What Minnesota’s hospitals and health systems need to know about the new health insurance exchange. The National Rural Health Association has also summarized ACA tools for rural providers. http://www.mnsure.org/  – http://tinyurl.com/p7lofl7

–The Rural Health Systems Analysis and Technical Assistance (RHSATA) project, a collaboration between the Office of Rural Health Policy, the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis (RUPRI Center), and Stratis Health, launched a new website: Rural Health Value. The site offers tools, resources and information to assist rural communities and providers transition to a high-performance rural health system, as well as analysis of rural implications of policy changes. http://cph.uiowa.edu/ruralhealthvalue/

Rural Data Portal 
Provides over 350 data indicators identifying the social, economic, and housing characteristics of communities in the United States using Housing Assistance Council (HAC) tabulations of public use data sets that include the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, the American Community Survey (ACS) and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data. http://www.ruraldataportal.org/

The Sustainable Communities Hot Report is a new web-based tool that gives community leaders and residents a quick and easy way to determine how well their communities are performing on a variety of sustainability indicators, including transportation, housing, economic development, income, and equity. Produced by the U.S. Census Bureau and the HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the tool can help communities measure their own performance and compare themselves to communities of a similar type. http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/

–The Minnesota Department of Health recently added two new modules to its Climate Change Training Modules series, developed as an educational tool for public health officials as well as for the general public. The fully-scripted series, which is designed for use as a train-the-trainer resource, addresses the potential impacts of a changing climate on public health.  The two latest training modules include:

* Mental Health, Climate Change, and Public Health.  This training module provides an overview of the observed climate changes in Minnesota, the public health issues related to climate change and mental health, and public health strategies for reducing the negative mental health impacts of climate change.

* Agriculture & Food Security.  This module provides an overview of the observed climate changes in Minnesota, the potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security, and public health strategies to increase food security and food education.

To download these or other training modules in the series, or for more information, visit: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/climatechange/communication.html#modules

–“Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace” is a book funded by The Kellogg Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From the Executive Summary: “The local food movement is now spreading globally, yet is not well understood. To many, local food is exclusively about proximity, with discriminating consumers demanding higher-quality food grown, caught, processed, cooked, and sold by people they know and trust. But an equally important part of local food is local ownership of food businesses. This report is about the full range of locally owned businesses involved in food, whether they are small or big, whether they are primary producers or manufacturers or retailers, whether their focus is local or global markets. We call these businesses community food enterprises (CFEs).” http://communityfoodenterprise.org/book-pdfs/CFE%20Book_view.pdf.

–The Rural Homeless Youth Listening Sessions Project, a partnership of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Minnesota Department of Human Services (OEO-DHS), rural homeless youth service providers and the Otto Bremer Foundation, released a Summary Report based on listening sessions conducted in 10 rural and tribal communities in greater Minnesota. The report includes recommendations to invest in prevention, outreach and education; enhance service delivery; strengthen partnerships; and improve grantmaking programs. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/orhpc/pubs/hmlessyth.pdf

“Changing Lands Changing Hands” is a 30-minute video that was produced by NET Television in Nebraska and Harvest Public Media that looks at the fastest growing group of farmers in the United States, those who are 65 years old and older. Thousands of farms, as much as half of the farmland in the United States, will be changing hands over the next generation. “Changing Lands, Changing Hands” examines how that could reshape the industry that drives the economy in middle America. Click here to watch the video. A second video “How Can We Save Rural America?” offers a 30-minute discussion program following up on issues raised in “Changing Lands, Changing Hands.” It focuses on solutions to helping small towns in rural America survive and thrive. http://video.netnebraska.org/video/2365061385/

–An article in the Daily Yonder titled “Broadband Availability: Geography Matters” discusses how rural areas lag urban ones in their access to broadband. A first-of-its-kind map and a state-by-state chart compute the geographical difference in “availability”. Read the article http://tinyurl.com/n4pvtdb

–“All-In Nation: An America That Works for All” is a book from PolicyLink and the Center for American Progress that offers policy recommendations for building a prosperous economy by ensuring that all are able to participate and achieve their full potential – particularly communities of color that are quickly becoming the nation’s majority. http://tinyurl.com/p8ajnr8

–The CDFI Fund has launched “Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities” Study and Focus Group Registration. Native Communities in the United States face unique economic challenges that affect the availability of capital and credit for individuals and businesses. The Study will identify these challenges, and is part of the long-term goal of the CDFI Fund’s Native Initiatives to overcome barriers to financial services in Native Communities. http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/Native_Communities_Study.asp

–“Raising Student Voices: Student Action for University Community Investment” is a report from The Democracy Collaborative and the Responsible Endowments Coalition that seeks to connect struggling communities to local institutional wealth through engaging student activism. The report profiles three administration-led initiatives and three student-led initiatives, as well as five potential future partnerships, where institutional investments are directed into local communities in a way that empowers low-income residents, develops small businesses and generates sustainable economic development. http://tinyurl.com/qxq7sna

–The National Association of State Units on Aging has launched a website “Clearinghouse for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS)” that allows users to access information, tools, data and other resources for building programs to assist older adults and people with disabilities. http://www.hcbs.org/

–The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Mental Health Resources for Rural Communities website offers links to brochures, fact sheets, articles, research and organizations addressing mental health issues across rural America. http://promoteacceptance.samhsa.gov/topic/rural/

“The Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Overcoming Barriers to Affordable Housing in Rural America”, published by Rapoza Associates, reports that the credit has an important impact in rural communities. http://tinyurl.com/k2e2qqe

–“Hunger and Housing in Rural America: Intersecting Challenges and Solutions” is the feature of a special summer edition of the Housing Assistance Council’s Rural Voices newsletter focusing on the intersecting challenges of housing and food security in rural America. http://tinyurl.com/o4ulffb

–A Nonprofit Quarterly article, “Why Rural Philanthropy Must Mean More than Money” explains that in rural communities and small towns, philanthropy can take stands, create coalitions, and break down racial barriers that other institutions avoid. James Joseph, former president of the Council on Foundations, finds that foundations have five forms of capital: social, reputational, moral, intellectual and financial. http://tinyurl.com/mxmsgpv

–The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published the latest edition of its Community Development Investments newsletter entitled “Extending Credit in Indian Country: How Banks Use Federal Programs to Promote Economic Development”. This issue reviews current economic conditions in Indian Country, presents examples of how national banks and federal savings associations can use federal programs to lend and invest in this market, and provides a primer on Community Reinvestment Act implications for OCC-regulated institutions that seek to do business in Indian Country.  http://tinyurl.com/o37glju

2012 Wind Report: Minnesota among leaders in wind power production.  Minnesota remains one of the leading wind power producing states, according to the 2012 Wind Technologies Market Report and the 2012 Market Report on Wind Technologies in Distributed Applications. Minnesota ranks seventh in the nation for cumulative wind power capacity with 2,987 megawatts (MW) through 2012. Texas ranks No. 1 with 12,214 MW. Minnesota ranks fourth in percentage of in-state wind generation, with 14.3 percent of its electricity generated from wind. Minnesota is also leader in the installation of distributed wind energy systems. http://tinyurl.com/qdxafg8

DEED has made available the Legal Guide to the Use of Social Media in the Workplace. The book is aimed at providing practical guidance on the legal issues a business should consider when using social media. The book helps businesses navigate an array of laws and regulations, and offers best practices and ways to mitigate risk.  Guidance is provided on:
1. Safeguarding confidential and proprietary information.
2. Protection through terms of use and privacy policy.
3. Compliance with securities and disclosure laws.
4. Social media as a marketing tool.
5. Influence of social media on the employment relationship.
6. Ownership of social media accounts.

This book has been developed as part of DEED’s ongoing efforts to help aspiring entrepreneurs, small, and other businesses understand emerging workplace issues. The book was developed in partnership with the Minneapolis-based law firm of Gray Plant Mooty to produce the book.  It is available in print or CD-ROM from DEED’s Small Business Assistance Office at 651-259-7476 or 800-310-8323 or deed.mnsbao@state.mn.us. Or requests can be mailed to the Small Business Assistance Office at First National Bank Building, 332 Minnesota St., Suite E200, St. Paul, MN 55101-1351.  http://tinyurl.com/oj458bh Businesses are encouraged to check the website periodically for updates because regulations and laws continuously change.

Online Voter Registration Available.  Minnesota voters can now register online to vote. In addition, military and overseas voters can apply online to receive absentee ballots. Information about both of these tools can be found at www.mnvotes.org.

FEDERAL SITES (May or may not be available depending on Federal Shutdown status)

Effective October 1, 2013,USDA Rural Development will be implementing the 2010 Census Data for Rural Development Housing Programs. The result of this action will be a change in the eligible areas in the State of Minnesota where the Rural Housing Service Programs can be used. You can access the proposed area eligiblilty maps at: http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do   Simply click on the link, look to the left side of the page, and click on the appropriate section that you want to review.

–USDA has issued a NOFA for the Rural Community Development Initiative for qualified intermediary nonprofits to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities or community and economic development in rural areas. Deadline to apply: 11/12/2013. Click here for an application package.

USDA Rural Development’s Direct Home Repair Loan and Grant programs are designed to help eligible, low-income seniors who own inadequate but repairable housing.  Qualified projects can include repairing or replacing a roof, winterizing, purchasing or repairing a heating system, structural repair, water and sewage connect fees, and similar uses.  Applicants must own and occupy the home, and their income may not exceed guidelines established by county and household size.  Applicants must also have an acceptable credit history, show repayment ability, be unable to afford a conventional loan and live in a community with a population of 20,000 or fewer.  The maximum loan is $20,000, repayable over 20 years with a one percent interest rate. Grants of up to $7,500 are also available to homeowners over the age of 62 and must be used to remove health or safety hazards.  Contact your local Rural Development office or visit Rural Development’s website at www.rurdev.gov/MN to learn more about our Direct Home Repair Loan & Grant programs.

Information comes from a variety of sources including the American Community Survey, Census 1990, 2000 and 2010, the Department of Labor’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and State Occupational Projections, and the Census Bureau’s Local Employment Dynamics (LED). Data are maintained and updated by the collecting agency.  To access the tool, visit http://thedataweb.rm.census.gov/TheDataWeb_HotReport2/EPA2/EPA_HomePage2.hrml.

U.S. Bioenergy Statistics are a source of information on biofuels intended to present a picture of the renewable energy industry and its relationship to agriculture. Where appropriate, data are presented in both a calendar year and the relevant marketing year timeframe to increase utility to feedstock-oriented users. The statistics highlight the factors that influence the demand for agricultural feedstocks for biofuels production; for instance, numerous tables emphasize the relationship between energy and commodity markets.

Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials  ERS has compiled over 75 charts and maps covering key statistics on farming, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, the interaction of agriculture and the environment, and more.

–Projecting regional population growth of nearly 900,000 people over the next 30 years, the Metropolitan Council has taken its first cut at forecasting where that future growth is likely to occur among metro area cities and towns. Council officials say the region’s economy will remain robust, but real estate demand and development patterns will differ from previous decades. Regional forecast details.

Eating Better at School: Can New Policies Improve Childrens Food Choices? (Amber Waves feature)  ERS research found that offering school lunches with a healthier mix of vegetables was associated with higher consumption of healthier vegetables, but also higher food costs. “Nudging” students can increase acceptance of healthier foods.

Cropland Consolidation and the Future of Family Farms (Amber Waves feature)

Over the past 3 decades, U.S. crop production has been shifting to larger farms for most crops and in most States. But family farms still dominate U.S. crop production, accounting for 87 percent of the value of U.S. crop production in 2011.

Household Food Security in the United States in 2012  An estimated 14.5 percent of U.S. households were food insecure some time in 2012, essentially unchanged from 2011. The share included 5.7 percent with very low food security