To respond to the business impacts of COVID-19 and maintain a proactive economic development program, the Red River Regional Council and collaborative economic development partners are launching a regional BR+E Program. A BR+E program focuses on the survival and growth of existing businesses. An estimated 40-80% of new growth comes from existing businesses - businesses that have already invested substantial resources into the community.
“COVID has presented an array of business challenges including safety, temporary closures, facility changes, furloughed staff, supply chain disruptions, new equipment purchases and more,” said Dawn Mandt, RRRC Executive Director. “Our goal is to identify and assist with individual needs, opportunities and economic trends that may need to be addressed.”
The BR+E begins with one-on-one hourlong interviews with business management and owners. There are two tiers of businesses to be interviewed. Tier 1 includes manufacturing and food processing companies. Tier 2 includes businesses that have been heavily impacted by COVID including healthcare, food services, retail, services, and hospitality. It is estimated these two tiers represent approximately 35% of the businesses in the region. The interviews will be held confidential while the data will be aggregated to identify possible trends within communities, counties or region.
The BR+E interviews began the week of September 21 and are expected to stretch into spring 2021. More information can be found at www.redriverrc.com or contact Kevin Cooper or Dawn Mandt at 701-352-3550.
Region 4 includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh Counties. The program will focus on the areas of the region outside the City of Grand Forks at this time.
Collaborative partners include economic development organizations in Region 4 including: Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh County Job Development Authorities; Grafton and Park River Economic Development Committees; Grand Forks Region EDC; Minnkota Power Cooperative; Job Service North Dakota; Grafton and Cavalier Chambers of Commerce; and North Valley Career and Technology Center.
September 18, 2020
The Nelson County JDA is hosting a housing forum on Wednesday, October 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lakota Community Center. The event will also be live-streamed on the Red River Regional Council's Facebook page.
The forum will include a presentation of the 2020 Nelson County Housing Study by Community Partners Research, Faribault, MN. The study was undertaken in spring 2020 and includes a summary of county strengths, barriers or limitations, recommendations, and specific recommendations by category and by city. The forum will also include a presentation on a proposed countywide housing rehabilitation project set to begin development in 2021.
Click here for a copy of the full report.
August 28, 2020
The Red River Regional Council’s (RRRC) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding allocation for FY2020 is $205,951. At its August 19, 2020 meeting, the RRRC Board of Directors reviewed pre-applications submitted by the original June 24, 2020 deadline and allocated the following:
City of Fordville on behalf of the Fordville Senior Citizen Club (exterior building rehabilitation and handicap accessibility): $122,360
This leaves a balance of $83,591 available in the FY2020 allocation for other CDBG eligible projects in Region IV which includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties.
The RRRC Board of Directors has approved amending the PDS to solicit a second round of pre-applications for the available $83,591 in FY2020 CDBG funds with the amended deadline dates as follows:
December 21, 2020 Pre-application deadline
On or about February 21, 2021 CDBG Review Committee meeting (scoring/ranking) of pre-applications and recommendation to Board of Directors
June 1, 2021 Final date for completion of full applications to Division of Community Services (DCS) for approval
Under CDBG guidelines, all cities, counties and other interested parties in the region must be notified in writing of the changes to be made to the PDS and given 15 days to respond to the RRRC. Therefore, any responses regarding the PDS amendment must be received before September 14, 2020.
CDBG FUNDS ELIGIBILITY
CDBG funds are awarded to the RRRC on an annual basis via the North Dakota Department of Commerce – Division of Community Services. CDBG is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. CDBG funds can be used for projects such as:
Funding Categories (Summarized from State PDS):
- Housing: Eligible projects include rehabilitation of single family housing; affordable multi-family development including rehabilitation, repair, expansion or similar activities proposed that will better assure meeting needs, and health and safety issues; or conversion or eligible soft costs for new construction providing affordable housing. Awards may be made in the form of grants, loans, or combination.
- Public Facilities: Eligible projects include infrastructure (i.e. sanitary sewer or storm sewer lift stations, lagoon improvements, replacement of fire hydrants, street paving, reconstruction of street lights, replacement of sidewalks, etc.), public safety (e.g., fire halls, trucks, ambulances and related equipment) and removal of architectural barriers (handicap accessibility).
- Planning: Eligible activities include establishment of a Capital Improvements Plan, Community Strategic Plan, Comprehensive Plan, Zoning or other plans.
- Other: Other activities that do not fit in to any other category but which are eligible for CDBG assistance. Any proposal in this category must meet one of the national objectives.
The RRRC will be accepting pre-applications for the remaining $83,591 of the FY2020 CDBG allocation until December 21, 2020. Any project allocated FY2020 funds will need to complete the full CDBG application by June 1, 2021.
Please contact CDBG program manager Stacie Sevigny (701-352-3550 or Stacie@redriverrc.com) regarding potential project eligibility and other considerations and/or to receive a copy of the Region IV pre-application. More information on the CDBG program and how to apply can be found under the Developing Our Communities tab of this website: https://www.redriverrc.com/communities/
August 26, 2020
Kevin Cooper has been hired as a Developer at Red River Regional Council. With funding provided by the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Kevin will be leading the economic recovery and resiliency strategic planning in Region 4, which includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina Walsh Counties. Kevin comes to RRRC with nearly 30 years’ experience in economic development and higher education. He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Mayville State University and a master's degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota. He earned certifications as an Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) through the National Development Council (NDC), and Strategic Planning Professional (SPP) from the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP). He is a past president of the Economic Development Association of North Dakota (EDND).
Kevin and his wife Doris have three children and live in rural Grand Forks County.
July 17, 2020
The North Dakota Department of Commerce recently announced the creation of a $69 million Economic Resiliency Grant (ERG) program available to private companies and nonprofits operating in North Dakota for investments with the purpose of reducing the spread of COVID-19 infection, and instilling consumer confidence in the marketplace. Businesses with one physical location are eligible for a grant of up to $50,000 or up to $100,000 for businesses with multiple locations.
Eligible businesses include private for-profit and non-profit businesses that interact directly with customers. The proposed investment must decrease the spread of infection, and this will have to be clearly articulated in the application. Qualified improvements already made (after March 27) are eligible for reimbursement through the grant. Whether improvements have been already made, or whether you will be submitting a proposal for future improvements, it is critical to keep very detailed documentation as there will be an audit of your expenses post-award. Applicants must also demonstrate how they directly interface with consumers or how the improvements directly benefit consumers through supply chain impacts.
The following businesses are NOT eligible: businesses with no live customer interaction (not including manufacturers), at-home businesses (with the exception of licensed daycare facilities), companies that are able to relocate employees to remote workplaces and maintain productivity, governmental, regulatory, and public administrative entities, and lobbying organizations.
Investments must be direct and are meant to reduce the spread of infection. Applicants are encouraged to think outside of the box, but examples of direct investments may include:
- Touchless payment systems or document signing systems;
- Automatic doors;
- Automatic faucets/toilets/hand dryers, and door kicks;
- Technology to manage take-out or drive-through orders;
- Improvements that create distance between customers or employees;
- Expanded outdoor dining;
- Partitions between workers who cannot be socially distanced;
- Personal protection equipment (PPE);
- UV sanitizers;
- Temperature checking equipment.
Applications open August 12, 2020 and are on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds will be dispersed by September 25, 2020 and must be expended within 45 days of receiving the grant. Any funds not used for specific approved expenses must be returned to the state.
For more information go to https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources and click on Business and Employer Resources or contact Julie Campbell (Walsh County) at 701-352-2171 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dawn Mandt (Rural Grand Forks/Nelson/Pembina Counties) at 701-352-3550 or email@example.com.
In April 2020, the ND Department of Commerce conducted an individual survey regarding the impacts of COVID-19 having throughout the state. There were over 11,300 respondents statewide. Region 4 (Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh Counties) had approximately 1,500 respondents. A few Region survey highlights:
- 97% of respondents are practicing social distancing of varying degrees.
- 90% are moderately to extremely concerned about the pandemic.
- Top three concerns including self or family member getting sick; local businesses struggling/closing; and not being able to work.
- 1.5% report no changes to daily lifestyle while 76% report moderate to extreme changes and 19% have had no changes as essential workers.
- 40% have themselves or another in their household with a chronic health condition that impacts their immune system.
Check out the new report highlighting the work done by the Red River Regional Council and Pembina County JDA benefiting Pembina County over the past 10 years (2010-2019).
The Pembina County JDA 2019 Annual Report is also available.
April 9, 2020
The pre-application deadline for Region IV’s (Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties) Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) has been set for June 24, 2020. Approximately $205,000 is expected to be available to projects in the region.
WHAT IS CDBG?
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was established by Congress in 1974 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The North Dakota Department of Commerce – Division of Community Services administers the CDBG program for the state with funding recommendations developed by the eight regional councils. The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) makes funding recommendations for Region IV.
As defined by HUD, the primary purpose of CDBG is “the development of viable communities, by providing decent housing and suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate income.”
DEFINING LOW AND MODERATE INCOME
Low and moderate income (LMI) households are those that are up to 80% of the median household income based on household size. Household income is derived from Census data and differentiates by household size and includes income of anyone age 18 or older living in a single household.
The chart below illustrates the income limits based on household size in Region IV for 2019. Data for 2020 is not yet available.
MEETING A NATIONAL OBJECTIVE
In order to be eligible for CDBG funds, a project or activity must meet at least one of the national objectives:
Activities benefiting low and moderate-income persons:
• The benefits are available to all the residents in a particular area, where at least 51% of the residents are LMI.
• Where the assistance is to a public improvement that provides benefits to all the residents of an area that is limited to paying special assessments levied against residential properties owned and occupied by LMI persons.
• Any cities or counties having 51% or more of households meeting these criteria meet the definition of an LMI community. Please review the accompanying LMI chart below for a complete list of Region IV communities and LMI percentages. LMI communities are highlighted in yellow.
• In a community with 51% or more LMI residents, CDBG funds can be used for construction costs on public facilities projects. If the community is under 51% LMI, CDBG funds can only be used to pay the special assessments of the LMI provided the total LMI assessments do not exceed available CDBG funds.
Limited clientele activities. Limited clientele is defined as abused children, battered spouses, elderly, handicapped, homeless or illiterate persons, and migrant farm workers:
• An activity which benefits a limited clientele.
• Project directed to removal of material and architectural barriers (ADA accessibility) in publicly owned and privately owned non-residential buildings and facilities.
• An activity carried out for the primary purpose of providing or improving permanent residential structures which will be occupied by LMI households.
Job creation & retention:
• Create permanent jobs were at least 51% of which involve the employment of LMI persons.
• For job retention, the city or county must document the job would be lost without CDBG assistance and the job is known to be held by a LMI person; and/or the job can reasonably be expected to turn over within the following 2 years and will be filled by, or steps will be taken to ensure it is available to, an LMI person.
Prevention/elimination of slum or blight:
• Resulting area must remain perpetual greenspace or if new construction, the end result must meet a national objective.
The anticipated FY2020 CDBG allocation for Region IV is $205,407. The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) can split the allocation among public facilities, housing, and economic development.
Region IV communities have been awarded CDBG funds for a variety of projects including:
- Public infrastructure projects such as: lagoon improvements, sanitary sewer lift station, reconstruction of street lights, replacement of fire hydrants, street paving, water and sewer infrastructure, water meter replacement, fire hall construction, etc.
- Housing rehabilitation, conversion and construction – single and multi-family.
- Removal of architectural barriers (handicap accessibility). Any community, regardless of LMI, can use CDBG for these types of projects. Projects can be within a building and/or include sidewalks and ADA curb ramps.
- Economic development: Part of the ND Community Development Loan Fund (CDLF), which targets both primary and retail sector businesses and job creation/retention for LMI. Used for business gap financing, business purchase, equipment, working capital and infrastructure. Examples of projects funded in our region include extension of water and sewer infrastructure to support the construction of a new business; business purchase; heating, cooling and roofing updates on a building.
Interested applicants must complete a two-step process. The deadline for pre-applications to the RRRC for public facilities and housing projects is June 24, 2020, with the RRRC’s Community Development Committee reviewing pre-applications on or about August 20, 2020. Economic development applications are accepted at any time.
An applicant may be allocated all, part, or none of its request from the RRRC’s CDBG allocation. Factors including the number of applicants, types of projects, and amounts of requests are considered when making funding recommendations. When/if the RRRC Board of Directors recommends a project for funding, the applicant will then prepare a full application for submission to DCS.
No work on a project, even portions not funded with CDBG, can begin prior to grant award from the state. Applicants should apply for CDBG the year PRIOR to the year the project will be implemented. For example, communities applying for 2020 funds would be implementing their projects in 2021.
Below is a partial list of CDBG considerations and requirements:
- A city or county must be the applicant. The city or county must adopt a Resolution of Sponsorship which must be included with the pre-application (due June 24, 2020).
- If the estimated project cost is $25,000 or more, the applicant must procure a licensed architect or engineer, including drawings or plans and preliminary architect/engineer report.
- The applicant share is the engineering/architect fees and grant administration which is 10% of CDBG award for public facilities projects and economic development projects; 15% for housing and public facilities special assessment projects.
- An environmental review must be conducted for all projects prior to submission of the grant to the state.
- All applicants must conduct at least one public hearing and community needs assessment prior to submitting a grant to the state. At least one public notice regarding the intention to apply for CDBG will need to be published in the municipality’s official newspaper.
- CDBG requires contractors working on a project to pay applicable Davis Bacon wage rates which can increase the overall cost of a project.
All potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact CDBG program manager Stacie Sevigny at 701-352-3550 or Stacie@redriverrc.com as soon as possible to ensure project and applicant eligibility. Documents, forms, and further information can be found here:
LMI Communities Chart: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Region-IV-LMI-stat-chart-2.pdf
CDBG Instructions and Considerations: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Pre-Application-Requirements-Considerations-2020.pdf
CDBG Public Facilities Pre-Application: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-CDBG-Public-Facilities-Pre-Application.pdf
CDBG Housing Pre-Application: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-CDBG-Housing-Pre-Application.pdf
FY2020 Scoring and Ranking Criteria for Public Facilities and Housing Projects: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Scoring-Ranking-Criteria-FY2020.pdf
FY2020 Program Distribution Statement for Region IV: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Region-4-2020-PDS.pdf
Walsh and Pembina counties are currently seeking cities interested in funding assistance for community betterment projects. Both Pembina and Walsh counties are accepting applications for projects as part of their Self-Help Programs.
There are many ways communities can use these county funds for betterment projects. Examples of projects cities have used the funds toward include: maintenance and mowing at a city park; city beautification; sidewalk and street repairs; Senior Center programs; playground equipment purchase; city sewer line maintenance; and street light repair.
The main objective is to promote development within communities of Pembina and Walsh counties. The Red River Regional Council manages the program on behalf of the counties. There are four program criteria:
- Requests cannot exceed one-half of the total project cost, nor can the request exceed $1,500.
- The county funds must be matched 1:1. Funds will be released on a reimbursement basis with supporting documentation.
- A copy of a resolution or minutes of the meeting when the applicant authorized the project must be included with the application. The city must include in its minutes that it plans to apply for self-help funds for a specific project.
- Any change in scope of the awarded project or if a City would like to use funds for a different project than awarded, the change must first be approved by the County.
The deadline to apply is December 15, 2020. Applications will be presented to the commissioners in Pembina and Walsh counties for review and funding decisions in January 2021.
Applications can be submitted via mail to Red River Regional Council, 516 Cooper Avenue, Grafton ND 58237 or via email to Stacie@redriverrc.com. They can be found on the RRRC website: www.redriverrc.com or by contacting the RRRC office at 701-352-3550.
As a reminder, any communities that received 2019 self-help funds have until December 1, 2020 to submit a reimbursement request. All reimbursement requests and supporting documentation should be sent to the respective county auditor. Requests received after that date may not be funded.
Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact Stacie Sevigny at 701-352-3550 or Stacie@redriverrc.com.
Commissioners in Pembina and Walsh counties recently awarded funds to cities for community betterment projects as part of each county’s “Self-Help” Program. The self-help program is administered by the Red River Regional Council (RRRC) on behalf of the counties.
The main objective is to promote community betterment projects within the cities of Pembina and Walsh counties. There are three program criteria:
• Requests cannot exceed one-half of the total project cost, nor can the request exceed $1,500.
• The county funds must be matched 1:1. Funds will be released on a reimbursement basis with supporting documentation.
• A copy of a resolution or minutes of the meeting when the applicant authorized the project must be included with the application. The city must include in its minutes that it plans to apply for self-help funds for a specific project.
Applications for 2019 funds were accepted through December 2019 and were awarded in January 2020 in both Pembina and Walsh counties.
Pembina County Commissioners reviewed the requests from seven cities requesting more than $10,000 for projects totaling more than $27,000. Commissioners awarded the amount cities requested, with seven cities receiving $1,500; and one city receiving $1,177. Total funds awarded was $10,177.
Pembina County cities and projects receiving funds are:
- Bathgate: Playground equipment; gravel for streets
- Cavalier: City beautification
- Crystal: Sidewalk replacement project
- Hensel (on behalf of the Gardar Township Hall project): Sidewalk project
- Mountain: Sidewalk replacement project
- St. Thomas: City beautification project including removal of abandoned buildings
- Walhalla: Jetting city sewer lines
Walsh County Commissioners reviewed the requests from eight cities requesting more than $9,500 for projects totaling more than $90,000. Funds were awarded with seven cities receiving $750 and one city receiving the requested amount of $500.
Walsh County cities and projects receiving funds are:
- Adams: Update & add lighting to city shed
- Edinburg: Pavement repair
- Fairdale: Maintenance and mowing of the city park
- Forest River: Replace lights and fan in fire hall
- Grafton: Costs associated with completing the Angel of Hope Memorial at Leistikow Park
- Hoople: Maintenance of trees at city park and cemetery
- Lankin: Equipment lease
- Minto: Repairs and upgrades to sidewalks and curbs
All cities in Pembina and Walsh counties will receive notification of their award and how to seek reimbursement from the respective county.
Applications for the 2020 program will be sent in April and cities in both counties are encouraged to apply for funds to assist with city betterment projects. Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact Stacie Sevigny at the RRRC via phone (701-352-3550) or email (Stacie@redriverrc.com).