By Tim Penny
In this season of giving and gratitude, I am inspired by how generously the people in our region showed up on Give to the Max day, which was November 17 this year. In just five days, over $85k was raised by Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s (SMIF) 30 community foundations. As a donor myself, I am so moved by the generosity of our area residents.
In addition to November being a charitable time of year, it’s also the time where many of us turn our minds to holiday shopping. At SMIF, we see every day how our small businesses are the backbones of our communities and local economies. For many small businesses, this is a crucial time of year. SMIF invests in businesses through our lending and equity programs, as well as providing technical assistance, economic development grants, and more. In 2022 we provided support to 1,546 entrepreneurs across the region. As consumers, we also believe in buying local, especially when it comes to holiday gifts.
While online shopping remains very convenient, we know that it means so much when we focus our shopping on our local small businesses. Our region is rich in opportunities to spend locally, from locally made foods, honey, wines, and beers, to local shops, restaurants, coffee shops, yoga studios and more. Whether we can shop in person or purchase items or gift cards from these local businesses online, your patronage is greatly appreciated by all.
This month on November 5, SMIF was honored to be a part of FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace, sponsored each year through collaboration with Renewing the Countryside and other regional partners. FEAST! brings local food businesses from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin together under one roof, where attendees sipped, sampled and shopped over 90 vendors. Being back in person for this annual event was really fun, as nothing beats seeing our fellow Minnesotans face to face, all while sampling a wide variety of foods and drinks. If you missed the event, a full list of the vendors is available on the FEAST! Local Foods website www.local-feast.org, which is sure to give you plenty of gift-giving inspiration.
As we gather this holiday season in a way that looks more back to normal than the past few years, we will give thanks for many things, including our local entrepreneurs who continue to make the region a vibrant place to live (and shop!). I hope you remember them as you purchase your holiday gifts this year.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (507) 455-3215.
About Tim Penny
Tim Penny is the president & CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. Tim represented Minnesota’s First Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982 – 1994.
About Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The Foundation has provided more than $154 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 36 years. SMIF’s key interests include economic and early childhood development and community vitality. To learn more about our work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.