August 16, 2021
Business retention and expansion project under way in Pembina and Grand Forks counties
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
Foodpreneur Field Trip Planned for July 15
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 email@example.com 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
RRRC Adds Two Staff to Team
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
Regional Council Interviewing Grafton Businesses
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.
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 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 2020 funds were accepted through December 2020 and were reviewed by commissioners in each county in early 2021.
Pembina County Commissioners reviewed the requests from six cities requesting more than $7,000 for projects totaling more than $18,000. Commissioners awarded the amount cities requested, with five cities receiving $1,500; and one city receiving $300. Total funds awarded was $7,800.
Pembina County cities and projects receiving funds are:
- Bathgate: Blading streets, snow removal, playground equipment
- Cavalier: City beautification
- Crystal: Sidewalk replacement project
- Mountain: Sidewalk replacement project
- St. Thomas: Water tower repairs and improvements
- Walhalla: Jetting city sewer lines
Walsh County Commissioners reviewed the requests from 10 cities requesting more than $12,000 for projects totaling more than $50,000. Funds were awarded with seven cities receiving $1,000; one city receiving the requested amount of $850; and two cities receiving the requested amount of $600.
Walsh County cities and projects receiving funds are:
- Edinburg: Sidewalk and street repair
- Fairdale: Maintenance and mowing of the city park
- Forest River: Septic tank costs
- Grafton: Walsh County Food Pantry
- Hoople: Replace lift station control panel
- Lankin: Equipment lease for snow removal and mowing
- Minto: Repairs and upgrades to sidewalks and curbs
- Park River: Purchase city Christmas décor
- Pisek: Street and ditch improvements
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 2021 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).
February 11, 2021
CDBG Virtual Public Hearing Set for February 25
A public meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, at 10 a.m., via the platform Zoom. This public meeting is an important component to the development of the Region IV Public Distribution Statement (PDS) for the 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.
To participate via Zoom, please use this link:
Meeting ID: 893 6675 1954
To participate via phone, please call:
Meeting ID: 893 6675 1954
The CDBG program is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 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.”
The purpose of this public meeting is as follows:
- To inform the public of the FY2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program.
- To discuss the impact the Program has on Region IV (Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties).
- To seek input from Region IV entities for Region IV’s 2021 Program Distribution Statement.
- To review/update the short and long terms goals for Region IV.
The RRRC receives CDBG funds annually to assist communities with economic and community development projects. Region IV communities have been awarded CDBG funds for a variety of projects in recent years including:
- Public infrastructure projects including lagoon repairs and improvements, replacement of sanitary sewer lift stations and/or necessary operational components, reconstruction of streetlights, replacement of fire hydrants, HVAC improvements in public buildings, citywide street paving, etc.
- Construction of a new building or addition to an existing building for fire districts.
- Housing rehabilitation, conversion, construction.
- Removal of architectural barriers (handicap accessibility) in buildings used by the public.
- Economic development: Part of the North Dakota Community Development Loan Fund (CDLF), this program targets both primary and retail sector businesses and job creation/retention for low- and moderate-income residents. It can be used for new business gap financing, business purchase, equipment, working capital and infrastructure for business needs.
All community representatives interested in learning more about the CDBG program, discussing potential 2021 program emphasis areas, and/or potential projects in 2021 and beyond, are encouraged to attend the meeting. Anyone unable to attend but interested in learning more about the CDBG program is encouraged to contact Stacie Sevigny via phone at 701-352-3550 or via email at Stacie@redriverrc.com.
Alternative formats of the Distribution Statement are available upon request. Should anyone require auxiliary aids or services or need additional information to attend the meeting on February 25, 2021, please contact Stacie Sevigny prior to the public meeting via phone at 701-352-3550; via email at Stacie@redriverrc.com; or via mail or in person at 516 Cooper Avenue, Suite 101, Grafton, ND 58237. The ND Relay numbers include: 1-800-366-6888 or 711:TTY, 1-800-366-6889 or 711:Voice, 1-800-435-8590 or 711:Spanish.
Documents that will be reviewed during the public hearing can be found on this website under the Community Development Block Grant tab. Please download the documents for your convenience: