October 6, 2021
Are you or someone you know aspiring to be an entrepreneur? Or perhaps looking to purchase or sell an existing business, or to acquire new machinery/equipment, furniture and fixtures, and/or inventory?
If so, check out the link below for available funding opportunities alongside other valuable information. This opportunity is available for a limited time, so contact us at (701) 352-3550 to speak with one of our team members!
October 3, 2021
Public, business owners, elected officers are encouraged to attend workshops to see the results
The Red River Regional Council and many regional partners have come together on an important effort to enhance where we live, work and play. Part of those efforts include a secret shopping mission and the public is encouraged to attend a workshop in their county to learn more about what that mission revealed.
The project, Destination Red River Region, has begun and includes four counties in northeast North Dakota, also known as Region 4 – Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh.
Research shows that tourism is the front door to non-tourism economic development and a region is only as good as the sum of its parts. The goal of the project is to level up the communities in Region 4. The outcome will be a regional action plan that provides strong direction on how and what we can be doing to strengthen our efforts to attract people – both visitors and residents. Roger Brooks and his team will be drafting that plan.
Who is Roger Brooks?
Roger Brooks and his team from Roger Brooks International & Destination Development Association (https://www.destinationdevelopment.org/cpages/home) have been selected to assist us in these efforts based on his wealth of experience, energetic approach, and the ability to help us level up. His team’s mission is to help communities in their efforts to be sustainable, successful destinations while improving quality of life for residents. To date he has assisted more than 2,200 communities do this through branding, marketing, communications, economic and product development efforts.
What does the project include?
Roger Brooks’ efforts include several aspects:
- The Roger Brooks team conducted a pre-visit assessment. They looked our websites, social media, photography and print materials. The goal is to figure out what people who know nothing about our area can (and cannot) find out before physically coming here.
- They are among us now, in the region, secretly shopping us. They will do this for about three weeks. They are looking at our region through 3 lenses – the lens of a visitor, potential investor (business opportunity), and future resident. They have been taking thousands of photos.
- A brief online questionnaire will be launched to get local feedback on the future of our communities. It is expected this will be launched the week of October 4.
- A findings and suggestions workshop will be held in each county once the secret shopping mission is complete. For every challenge uncovered during the secret shopping mission, Roger will be here to show us, photographically, how to make it better using many low-cost solutions.
Please see below the date and time for each workshop. These events are open to the public and attendance is highly encouraged:
- Grand Forks County: Tuesday, Oct. 19 – 9am Pheasant Room at the Alerus Center
- Nelson County: Monday, Oct. 18 – 9am at Lakota Community Center
- Pembina County: Friday, Oct. 15 – 9am at Akra Hall at Icelandic State Park
- Walsh County: Thursday, Oct. 14 – 9am at Minto Community Center
It is expected the findings and suggestion workshop will be 2 to 2 ½ hours. Everyone is invited to attend. The more engagement, the easier it will be to implement solutions. Plus, Roger promises it will be energetic and enlightening – plus it will be 100% about your county.
Regional and County Teams
The same afternoon of the workshop, Roger will meet with the respective County Team to give next steps (or “marching orders”) on what can be done while the plan is drafted.
A County Team has been assembled for each County and has a chairperson or co-chairs. These are people who have a vested interest in the Action Plan development and implementation. They’re going to assist in building momentum and implementing the plan.
The goal of the County Team is to move ideas forward – to help move them from suggestions to recommendations to actions. But they can’t do it themselves. This is where engagement at the County Workshops, and beyond, is important. A plan is only as good as those who strive to implement it.
We expect the County Team, JDA, city and county elected leaders, and many others will be working – together – to implement the Action Plan. If you’re interested in being part of this, please the Red River Regional Council for more information.
There is also a regional team – made up of 2-3 members from each county and one from Manitoba — which has been meeting over the past several months to bring this effort to the region. They were the group who selected Roger Brooks/Destination Development to lead this effort.
Before Roger and his team depart the area, on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, he will be holding focus group meetings with sectors of people from across the region. These sectors will include people from groups such as retailers, restaurants, lodging, large employers, elected leaders, healthcare, youth, newcomers, etc. Each group will have 15-20 people representing these sectors across the four-county region. Anyone interested in participating in this should contact the Red River Regional Council.
Roger Brooks will be conducting 90-, 120-, and 180-day check-ins with the County Teams and will return in spring 2022 with the action plan. The plan will be for the entire region, with each county having its own section based on the pre-assessments, in person assessments, and online public questionnaire.
How was this project made possible?
How it’s being done is through a partnership of several organizations in the region. Funding partners include:
- Red River Regional Council / Economic Development Administration
- City of Cavalier / ND Department of Commerce Planning Grant
- Nelson County JDA
- Pembina County JDA
- Walsh County JDA
- Rendezvous Regional Council
- Visit Greater Grand Forks (formerly GF convention & visitor’s bureau)
The Red River Regional Council (RRRC) is one of eight regional planning councils in North Dakota established in 1973 to enhance the ability of local governments to jointly plan, address issues, and seize opportunities that transcend individual boundaries.
The RRRC is an independent quasi-governmental consulting group assisting local governments, business owners, homeowners, landowners, healthcare providers, and educational institutions in solving problems, creating holistic solutions, planning, and making dreams come true. The RRRC serves Region IV which includes Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh Counties. More information can be found at www.redriverrc.com.
August 16, 2021
To respond to the business impacts of COVID-19 and maintain a proactive economic development program, the Red River Regional Council (RRRC) and collaborative economic development partners recently launched a regional Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) Program. A BR+E program focuses on the survival and growth of existing businesses. Visits with Grand Forks County and Pembina County businesses are under way.
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. The types of businesses to be interviewed include manufacturing and food processing companies, healthcare, food services, retail, personal and professional services, and hospitality. It is estimated these categories 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.
BR+E interviews have already been completed with ag processing and manufacturing companies in Pembina and Walsh counties. Interviews with the remaining categories of businesses are complete in Walsh County and Nelson County. More information can be found by contacting Jacob Schmuck, Jake Wiensch, 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. This project has been undertaken in response to COVID-19 and with financial support from the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.
Collaborative partners include economic development organizations in Region 4 including: Nelson, Pembina, and Walsh County Job Development Authorities; Grafton, Northwood, 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.
Due to lack of participation from some cities and a recent request from a participating city, the Pembina County Commission has revised its Self Help program guidelines to allow full benefit of the program to participating cities. Starting in 2021 each city may submit up to two applications.
Currently each of Pembina County’s 11 cities can apply for up to $1,500 as the county’s match to a local project. Cities can apply for a specific city project (i.e. sidewalks, street repairs), and/or cities can allow another organization like the park district or other non-profit entity to apply for one of its projects (i.e. outdoor skating rink, city park upgrades).
The county budgets a total of $16,500 each year to support projects in Pembina County cities, however in recent years $4,500-$6,000 has been left unutilized based on a lack of applications. Beginning with the 2021 program, updates include:
- Each city can submit up to two applications for two separate projects. Both projects are not required to be city projects. For example, the park district or other non-profit organization can apply for a project if agreed to by a city. However, a Pembina County city must be the applicant.
- City council meeting minutes must reflect what project is being applied for, regardless of whether it is a city project or a project of another non-profit organization.
- Projects can be located outside city limits provided a Pembina County city agrees to be the applicant.
- The maximum county match for each application is $1,500. This must be matched dollar for dollar by the city or other entity the city is applying on behalf of.
- Should more than 11 applications total be received in any program year, the County Commission will determine which projects receive the matching county funds. Cities submitting two applications are asked to identify which application is the first priority if only one application is funded.
- The county is not obligated to allocate the entire $16,500 budgeted annually for this program.
A fillable PDF application can be found here: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2021-Pembina-County-Self-Help-Program-Application.pdf
For cities submitting more than one application, please note that applicants must specify in the top section whether the application is priority #1 or #2. If the county does not fund all applications received, this will be considered when determining funding priorities. The deadline to submit applications for the 2021 program is December 15, 2021.
The Pembina County Self Help Program began in the 1990s and has been managed by the Red River Regional Council (RRRC) on behalf of the county since its inception. The goal of the program is to utilize county funds to support community betterment projects in Pembina County cities.
July 2, 2021
In an effort to grow more interest in local foods, production and small business, the Red River Regional Council has schedule a one-day field trip from Grafton to Rolla on July 15. The RRRC is in the process of evaluating establishing a kitchen incubator to be headquartered in Grafton to assist in growing local food based businesses.
"We have numerous foodpreneurs in the areas that could be matured into larger businesses by providing affordable, collaborative commercial space," said Dawn Mandt, Executive Director. "These food-based businesses also enhance our quality of place and attract more people to the area by providing unique product lines. We want to learn more about the role we can play to assist these types of entrepreneurs in the region."
The RRRC has planned a one-day field trip to Rolla to visit and learn more about local foods and a year-round business model. Hosting the Rolla event is Danielle Mickelson, owner of Lena's Fresh Farmer's Market. Mickelson continues to grow this business in downtown Rolla by providing fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, canned vegetables, and featuring other local vendors with limited hours of operation on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Mickelson is also the Rolla Job Development Authority Director.
The field trip will include education on the following topics:
- how to grow a food-based businesses
- resources for local foods and agri-tourism projects
- how local foods can grow into a year-round business
- foodpreneur opportunities for all ages
- how local foods can become a win/win for small towns
- how to assess the market for gaps and pricing
- marketing strategies
- helping food producers follow the law
- depart Grafton at 7:00 a.m. and return by 6:00 p.m.
- $25 registration fee covers transportation, lunch, and education session
- limited to 10 registrants
- Contact Jake Weinsch, Developer, at 701-352-3550 or firstname.lastname@example.org to register
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, 2021. Applications will be presented to the commissioners in Pembina and Walsh counties for review and funding decisions in early 2022.
Applications have been mailed to city auditors and mayors in both counties and can be submitted via mail to Red River Regional Council, 516 Cooper Avenue, Grafton ND 58237 or via email to Stacie@redriverrc.com. A fillable application can be found here: https://www.redriverrc.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021-APPLICATION-FILLABLE.docx
As a reminder, any communities that received 2020 self-help funds have until December 1, 2021 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.
Mayor Chris West invites you to attend a Business and Community Development Town Hall on Wednesday, May 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the Frosty Fox in Grafton. The event will also be live-streamed on the Regional Council's Facebook page.
The Town Hall will feature the findings of 30+ business interviews conducted in Grafton over the past month and well as hear perspectives from three business owners/managers including John Morgan, Morgan Printing; Andy Allen, Marvin; and Patty Gorder, Namaste Massage and Yoga Studio. Janice Kern, Kern Family Dentistry, will emcee the event.
April 20, 2021
The Red River Regional Council staff has recently added two new staff to its team, Jacob Schmuck and Jake Wiensch. Both staff have been initially tasked with completing more than 100 one-on-one business interviews in the region to learn more about the COVID-19 impacts, challenges, and opportunities as well as ideas for the future as part of a regional recovery/resiliency planning initiative.
Jacob Schmuck is a Grafton native and is excited to grow the regional community he calls home. Jacob received a Bachelor of Business and Public Administration degree in Marketing from the University of North Dakota. He previously served as a Search Engine Manager for Digi-Key’s European accounts. Jacob and his wife Joelle have two young boys and he loves spending family time with them outdoors. He also really enjoys movies, so it would be inadvisable to challenge him to cinematic trivia.
Jake Wiensch earned his Bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. He has previous economic/community development experience working at Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Here he analyzed and worked to improve the standard of living and business conditions in his geographic area. Jake is originally from Cadott, Wisconsin where he grew up on a small hobby farm. Jake loves the outdoors and adventure, he enjoys traveling, hiking, and biking.
To reach Jacob or Jake, please find their contact information on our staff page: https://www.redriverrc.com/staff/
April 5, 2021
The past year has been full of unprecedented impacts due to COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses have had to adjust their business models to continue to remain operational, dealt with mandatory closures, and fluctuating staff demands. While there has been disaster aid to address financial impacts, businesses have had ever-changing environments.
To express appreciation for enduring these conditions as well as to learn about how economic development programs may be able to assist in a proactive manner, the Regional Council and regional development partners such as job development authorities, city economic development committees, Chambers of Commerce have launched a one-on-one interview program entitled the business retention and expansion program.
“With disaster assistance provided by one of our key federal partners, we have been able to increase staff to develop an economic recovery/resiliency plan,” said Dawn Mandt, Executive Director. “Our first step is to learn first-hand specific business challenges, opportunities, and discuss ideas.”
An estimated 40-80% of new economic growth comes from existing businesses - businesses that have already invested substantial resources into the community.
There are two tiers of businesses to be interviewed. Tier 1 includes manufacturing and food processing companies. Seventeen Tier 1 interviews have been completed in Walsh and Pembina Counties. Tier 2 includes businesses that have been heavily impacted by COVID including healthcare, food services, retail, services, and hospitality and 18 interviews have been conducted in Grafton over the past couple weeks with a goal of approximately 30 as a sample size. The interviews will be held confidential while the data will be aggregated to identify possible trends within communities, counties, or region.
For more information contact Dawn Mandt at 701-352-3550. Please reach out if you would like to be included on the survey list or an online survey link can be found at www.redriverrc.com.
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.
The online survey can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YR2GML7
The Red River Regional Council has released an RFP for consulting services for a Region 4 tourism/destination/community development plan. The RRRC seeks a contractor with a demonstrable portfolio for successful tourism or destination development and amenity planning and development and a successful track record of impact.
The selected contractor will be responsible for creating a tourism and amenity development action plan designed to increase visitor traffic, attract people to live in the area, and increase economic resiliency in the state planning region four in northeastern North Dakota inclusive of the Pembina Gorge. The plan should also include recommendations that seize opportunities post-pandemic to attract new residents (both remote workers and entrepreneurs) to this rural area.
Partners in and funders of this planning project include:
- Frost Fire Park www.frostfirepark.org
- Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau www.visitgrandforks.com/
- Nelson County Job Development Authority www.redriverrc.com/nelson-county-job-development-authority/
- ND Department of Commerce https://commerce.nd.gov/
- ND Parks and Recreation Department (Icelandic, Pembina Gorge, and Turtle River) www.parkrec.nd.gov/
- Pembina County Job Development Authority www.redriverrc.com/pembina-county-job-development-authority/
- Red River Regional Council www.redriverrc.com/
- Rendezvous Region Tourism Council rendezvousregion.com/
- US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration
- Walsh County Job Development Authority www.digwalshcounty.com
Proposals are due April 21, 2021 with plan completion date of March 31, 2022.