Showing posts from 2017

NMF Supports Mobile Produce Drop Service

The North Country Food Bank has been providing food to local food shelves since 1983. When they first got started, the concept was simple – capture surplus food from the USDA, food manufacturers, grocery retail outlets and farmers to feed hungry people. They can capture donations that are too large for local agencies to handle. Today, North Country distributes food to over 230 charitable organizations on an annual basis. North Country’s service area covers 21 counties in northwest and west central Minnesota and part of Grand Forks, North Dakota. North Country is a member of Feeding America. Most of North Country’s member agencies receive 70 to 90 percent of all the food they distribute from North Country. Their staff consists of 11 full-time paid staff, one part-time paid staff, and more than 1,200 volunteers. They are able to do a lot with a little; last year they distributed 8,096,056 million pounds of food – which is the equivalent of 6,746,713 meals! 

NMF recently awarded North C…

Bemidji's Newest Destination for the Outdoors

It’s no secret that our region is a destination for the outdoors. Our diverse landscapes, countless bodies of water, and access to public lands makes Northwest Minnesota ideal for sportsmen and sportswomen alike.
Erik Jacobson is a Bemidji native who grew up the way many of us did – with a love for all things outdoors. An avid hunter and fisherman, Jacobson always wanted to turn his passion into a lifelong career. With the exception of a few retailers dispersed around the area – Reed’s, Gander Mountain (now closed), L & M Fleet, there are very few locally owned, outdoor specialty stores. Seeing this niche as a major opportunity, Jacobson and his friend Aaron Templin came up with Destination Sporting Goods (DSG).

“We cater to the outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re looking for the best equipment or the right advice, you’ll want to shop at Destination Sporting Goods,” it says on the store’s Facebook page. Their main product offering will include fishing & archery along with a wid…

NMF Working to Address the Region's Child Care Needs

Ensuring families have access to quality child care is a high priority task for NMF.

Our region has the third largest deficit for child care needs in the state. We are faced with 41% of families not having access to child care spots for their children. This means 41% of families are struggling to find safe and affordable child care for their children so they can go to work.

The Center for Rural Policy and Development recently published a fact sheet that provides insight on this issue. The main barriers that they pointed out were the following:

Until more can be done to increase wages and/or profits for both center and family providers, the child care shortage will continueLow pay for workforce makes recruitment and retention a major hurdle.Providers feel they can't raise rates because parents can't afford to pay more. Under this scenario, providers can't make a profit or be sustainable.The high startup costs make for very high barriers to entry for the average provider.The v…

10th Annual IDEA Competition: Kick-off Party in Bemidji

On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the Launch Pad hosted a kick-off party for the 10th Annual IDEA Competition. This open house was an opportunity for anyone interested in learning more about the IDEA Competition to hear from staff and past winners about the process and what to expect when participating in the competition for the first time.

IDEA is a competition that turns great ideas into great businesses. The competition provides training, business coaching, and capital to entrepreneurs who apply and want to turn an idea into a fast-growth business.

While most entrepreneurs enter to win one of three $10,000 cash awards, there are several other good reasons to enter. Applicants receive valuable tools and business development resources, a business coach, open access to all IDEA Labs, attention in the media, and a chance to present their idea to accredited angel investors and business leaders. Plus, there is a chance to win valuable services from accounting, legal, and marketing profession…

It Takes A Village: Clear Waters Life Center Starts Mentoring Program for Area Youth

As you walk into the old Clearbrook School building, you may hear the sound of volunteers rustling in the thrift store as they work to sort out the mounds of clothing donations they receive from area residents. You'll notice the large, colorful sign above the stairs that says "Youth Connection", which will lead you down to the area designated for a weekly after-school program. As you walk through the halls, you'll pass by a dozen friendly faces of staff who are working fervently to keep a number of programs up and running that are offered by Clear Waters Life Center (CWLC).

In addition to the thrift store and Youth Connection program, CWLC also offers a garden center, furniture shop, adult day services, support groups, art studios, a full-size gym and fitness center, and a men's residential program. Since 2008, CWLC has been led by dedicated staff and continues to work around the clock to create community partnerships and ensure that residents in the Clearbrook-G…

NMF Board and Staff Visit Mahnomen (August Board Meeting Recap)

On August 18, 2017, the NMF Board Members and Staff traveled to Mahnomen for the quarterly board meeting and community visit. In-person board meetings are held in the cities that the board members call home on a rotating basis, and each county in the northwest region is represented. This time Pete Haddeland, current Board Chair, hosted the board meeting in his hometown of Mahnomen at the White Earth Tribal and Community College (WETCC). Board and Staff members arrived at WETCC at 8:30 AM for coffee and breakfast, and then boarded two vans for a tour of Mahnomen led by Michael Neusser, White Earth Economic Development Director and Mitchell Berg, Mahnomen City Administrator.
As the vans weaved through the streets of Mahnomen, NMF Board and Staff members had the opportunity to see first-hand all of the projects and initiatives that have been funded by the Foundation. Since 2013, for every $1 the city received from NMF, the city was able to leverage $1.35 from other grants and funding sour…

Peacemaker Resources Paves the Way for Lifelong Learning in the Classroom

The mission of Peacemaker Resources is to "foster communication, compassion and connection leading to respectful relationships and healthier individuals and communities" and they achieve this by bringing their social emotional learning curriculum to elementary and middle schools around the state. They were also a recipient of the NMF Quality of Place award in 2016What makes their curriculum distinctive?BarbHoug, Executive Director, says, "Its preventative approach, its relevance for children of all ages, and its lifelong impact."
The curriculum that Peacemaker Resources is bringing into schools includes a number of programs - STAR (Students Teaching Attitudes of Respect)Girls LeadCultural ResponsivenessSEL (Social Emotional Learning)Mindfulness, and Trauma Informed Practices. These programs are designed for children of all ages, races, genders and socio-economic status. SEL teaches children to recognize and understand their emotions, feel empathy, make sou…

Hallock Keeps Business Brewing

Minnesota is no stranger to the craft beer scene. Breweries continue to pop up all around the state, not just in the Twin Cities metro. Brothers Ryan and Joshua Evenson, along with their spouses, Lindsey and Ashley, opened a new microbrewery business in Hallock on February 24, 2017: Revelation Aleworks.

“It was a dream of ours for a long time,” said Ryan, “Lindsey and I lived in Oregon for about eight years. Josh and Ashley lived in Oregon too. We fell in love with craft beer. It was always a ‘someday’ dream until this building became available.”

The building is located at 146 Atlantic Avenue, the former Johnson Oil service station (circa 1939). It features an industrial design with space for the seven barrel brewing system, seating for customers, and a unique curved glass block wall. The brothers worked a lot with tools and ladders during 2016, along with many hours of planning with Lindsey and Ashley, before the building was ready for customers.

The February 24, 25 2017 grand opening q…

Argyle Residents Committed to Community Growth and Wellness

On Friday, June 23rd, 92 dedicated golfers from the Argyle area showed up amidst the chilly, windy, Minnesota weather and overcast sky to support the Argyle Parks & Recreation Fund.
This was the second annual golf tournament organized by a group of committed Argyle community volunteers that serve on the Argyle Fund Advisory Committee. Hosted at Riverside Golf Course in Stephen, MN, the tournament includes raffle prizes, games and contests along the course, and food. Golfers form teams of four and play one round of nine holes. Forty-eight Argyle area businesses stepped up to support the event by being Eagle Overall Sponsors, Clubhouse Sponsors, Hole Sponsors, and donating raffle prizes.
The Argyle Parks & Recreation fund advisory committee has been busy in the past year fervently planning events and fundraisers to expand wellness opportunities for their community. In the past year they've organized eight fundraisers ranging from a Color Run, Mother/Son dance, and a basketball…

The Watermark Art Center: Northwest Minnesota's Gateway to the Arts

Bemidji has been a regional hub for the arts for generations. Between the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, Bemidji State Music Department,  Bemidji Sculpture Walk, Paul Bunyan Playhouse, and the annual Art in the Park festival, the city has integrated art into the community's pulse and made the arts accessible for people from all over the northwest region.

One of the key players keeping this area's art scene progressing and expanding is the Watermark Art Center. If you've driven through downtown Bemidji recently, you've probably noticed the old Leuken's grocery store building on the corner of 5th and Bemidji Ave (across from the Carnegie Library) is under construction. This will be the new location for the Watermark Art Center, which is temporarily housed at nearby 516 Beltrami Ave N. The project is the culmination of generous support from individual donors, foundations, and other community partners, including early support from the USDA Rural Development C…

An Evening to Remember - The Warroad Area Community Fund Gala

It was a perfect northern Minnesota summer evening in Warroad on Saturday, June 3, 2017.The brand new Warroad Community Park Pavilion had recently opened its doors, and it was ready for people to see it all lit up and decorated for its very first event.

 The Warroad Area Community Fund (WACF) Gala was that event! The advisory committee hosted this gala to raise awareness for the fund and its impact on the Warroad community. This was also an opportunity to share with community members the potential that the fund has to continue fostering community initiatives when additional gifts are made.
The evening included a social hour, silent auction, three course meal, a live strings performance by the Rainy Lake Community Orchestra, and an awards program followed by a DJ and dancing! There were 90 people in attendance which included a mix of donors, sponsors, community leaders, and grant recipients. 
The WACF awarded 14 grants in 2017. Recipients included:
The Warroad LibrarySkater Tots Progra…

The State of Manufacturing: Northwest Region Event Recap

Over 40 manufacturing professionals, business executives, and community leaders came together in Bemidji for the 2017 State of Manufacturing northwest region celebration event on Tuesday, May 23rd. Enterprise Minnesota presented the 2017 survey results, as well as hosted a Q & A panel.
The survey results were overall very positive and showed an optimistic horizon for the manufacturing industry in Minnesota. 
Here are a few highlights: For the first time, 94% of manufacturing executives are “very confident” about their firm’s financial perspectiveThe majority of respondents feel optimistic about the future of the economy35% of executives are expecting double-digit growth in revenue and profitability
Among the concerns facing the manufacturing industry: 68% of executives say it is difficult to attract qualified candidates to their firm’s vacanciesThe cost of health care coverage is the #1 concern companies are facingOnly 17% of companies have formally structured leadership developmen…

Enterprise Minnesota to present the State of Manufacturing at NMF on May 23rd

Enterprise Minnesota is an ISO Quality Management consulting organization based out of Minneapolis that works to increase efficiency and profitability for manufacturing companies across the state. They serve as the voice of Minnesota’s manufacturing industry.
One service they provide is an annual survey called The State of Manufacturing. Since its introduction in 2009, The State of Manufacturing is the most comprehensive survey of Minnesota's manufacturers. It reveals their perceptions and opinions on the economy and other major issues impacting business. The survey is accompanied by a series of focus groups, comprised of executives, managers, students, and thought leaders revealing their thoughts on the economy and other major issues impacting Minnesota's manufacturing industry.
The results of the 2017 survey will be presented around the state for local industry professionals to engage in the findings, and have an opportunity to discuss ideas with Enterprise Minnesota’s experts…


The IDEA Competition announced the names of three 2017 winners on Tuesday, April 25th at the IDEA awards banquet held at the Beaux Arts Ballroom, Bemidji State University.  Each winner receives $10,000 in cash to advance their business idea, plus additional specialized technical assistance.                 The 2017 Winners are: Chiara and Travis Bolton, Hubbard County, for Bolton Bees – provides MN-hard bees to backyard beekeepers; creates local, distinct, raw, location-specific honey; forms partnerships with solar companies to create pollinator friendly habitats. Bolton Bees is invested in our community. Todd Sandwick, Fosston, for DeanUltraThinRetainer – the Dean retainer solves several problems seen in standard acrylic Hawley retainers, and does so by making use of pre-existing, time-tested materials. The advantages of a Dean retainer are evident in less breakage and loss, comfort and compliance, hygiene, and cost.Mychal Stittswort…