REV winners

Representatives from the five communities that were named as REV towns pictured at the SMIF Annual Luncheon last month.

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OWATONNA – The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) has named Houston County’s Spring Grove as one if its five Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) communities.

“Spring Grove has a rich history of entrepreneurship, from family farms to main street businesses to flagship manufacturers like Spring Grove Soda Pop,” said Courtney Bergey, Spring Grove Economic Development Authority co-director. “This program will allow us to harness the existing energy and expertise of the community and create new business opportunities. We hope our participation in REV will help pull emerging entrepreneurs ‘out of the woodwork’ and give them the support they need to take the next step.”

The other REV communities announced by SMIF are Lanesboro/Spring Valley, Blue Earth, Lake City and Le Sueur. Lanesboro and Spring Valley submitted a joint applicaiton.

Starting January 2018, the five communities will participate in a new strategic initiative designed to build sustainable and resilient entrepreneurial ecosystems to boost business activity and community engagement in rural communities.

Through SMIF’s partnership with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship (based out of Lincoln, Neb.) Spring Grove will adopt their Energizing Entrepreneur (e2) program to accelerate entrepreneurial activity, according to a news release.

The aim of the program is to increase prosperity and entrepreneurial behavior while increasing diversification in leadership, community activity and businesses, the news release said. The goals should increase the resilience of the community and drive higher levels of philanthropy, according to the SMIF.

“For the past 30 years, the SMIF has been leading the way as an economic development foundation in our 20-county region,” said Tim Penny, SMIF’s President and CEO. “However, we recognize the need and opportunity to approach economic development from a systems-perspective so that even our smallest communities can be resilient in the face of inevitable challenges.”

Communities were selected from a competitive application process. All communities of 5,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region were eligible to apply.Blandin Foundation, Region Nine Development Commission and the University of Minnesota Extension are all partners on REV.

For more information on SMIF’s Rural Entrepreneurship Venture, contact Pam Bishop at pamb@smifoundation.org or 507-214-7013. For more information on Spring Grove, please contact Spring Grove EDA co-director Courtney Bergey at courtney.bergey@cedausa.com or 507-251-9272.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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