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Initiative Foundation Continues Its Investment in Southern Minnesota


Fri, Jul 12th, 2013
Posted in All Government

By Karen Reisner

Tim Penny, President of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, reported on its investments in Fillmore County and the region at the county board’s July 9 meeting. The foundation supports growth in 20 south central and southeastern Minnesota counties and has invested $86.5 million in the region since 1986. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud was absent due to a medical appointment.

The foundation awards $5 million annually to the region through grants, loans, and programs. Penny said about half goes toward entrepreneurial support and most of the rest toward early childhood support.

The foundation partners with five community foundations in the county including the community foundations of Harmony, Minn., Mabel Area, Preston Area, Rushford, Minn., and Spring Valley, Minn. The Initiative Foundation serves as the legal entity for the community foundations in its capacity as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and fiscal agent. It does the administrative work behind the scenes and provides some matching funds for local community foundations.

Penny noted their support for Lanesboro Local over the past several years. He suggested it adds to the many tourism attractions in the area. Penny recognized a great potential for tourism in both Fillmore and Houston Counties. Commissioner Duane Bakke commented that the foundation is doing some good things.

Penny explained they were starting a new program called Farmland Retention. The foundation will accept gifts of land and then rent out that land and use the proceeds in its budget. He added that any of the community foundations could accept gifts of land. This a charitable option to be considered. Penny acknowledged that the bulk of the wealth in the region is tied up in land. A gift of land can be a perpetual gift for the benefit of the region.

Penny said the foundation raises about eight percent of its money from cities and counties within the region. The other 92 percent of the budget resources are brought into the region. Administrative costs are under 10 percent.

The emphasis on early childhood is an effort to prepare pre-school children to enter the school system. Getting kids ready for kindergarten includes reading programs and an AmeriCorps member working with children for school readiness introducing social emotional skills. Penny described a program for interested employers where parent training can be provided in four sessions during the lunch hour to their employees. The program is designed to help parents understand what skills their children should have to become successful learners.

Other Business In Brief

• County Attorney Brett Corson updated the board on the clean-up of the former State Line Motel near Prosper, Minn. There was a suspected clandestine lab on the property. Six to eight months ago the property was tested. Three rooms were of concern. Corson said the property owner cooperated and hired a contractor approved by Public Health to clean up the rooms to satisfy state standards. After clean-up it has been retested and tested clean. The property owner paid for the clean-up.

Corson said the $2,443 in testing costs have been assessed against the property to recover the money paid out by the county. Documents have been filed that note it has been cleaned-up to state standards. If the property is sold, Corson said the testing cost should be recovered out of the closing cost proceeds. Bakke maintained the property can not be used as an apartment building. The property is zoned commercial.

• The LETG software license and LETG maintenance agreements were approved. Law Enforcement Technology Group (LETG) was selected at the June 25 meeting to be installed as the replacement record and jail management system.

• A resolution was adopted to submit a Point Source Implementation Grant application for the Greenleafton septic system project. Bakke noted that the cost share from the state will be more than it would have been a year ago which will decrease the cost for individuals in Greenleafton.

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