There are quite a few “In the beginning…” moments that came together to form the MNbump Initiative that we have today – and we are always moving and changing with more to come! I will try to briefly identify each of them.
First, we have amazing people here in Big Stone County! Author Peter Kageyama’s book “Love Where You Live” emphasizes the importance of co-creators “those citizens who, often unofficially, are making their communities better, more interesting, more lovable places. These exceptional people make the content that we all consume, and places are much better for having these people active and engaged.” Kagemama explains that these co-creators in our communities are already out there doing things – it is the job the of the leaders (mayors, city council and city managers) to find ways to connect with them and work with them. (…and thank you to Scott Rixe of the Graceville City Council for sharing this book at one of our County Connect meetings!)
Now, the organizations that have provided the assistance that have really made all of this come together!
The University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and the University of Minnesota Tourism Center were seeking five communities to participate in a special tourism assessment project over 18 months. This project was for small communities (under 1,500 pop) across Minnesota discover opportunities to develop community assets for sustainable tourism. Application was made by Big Stone Area Growth (a County-wide economic development group funded by Big Stone County) with the project target being the Cities of Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley. Their application was chosen and work began.
Information on this process can be found on the following links:
The final Tourism Assessment is the working document for the foundation of our work; however, the work that the communities of Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley have completed and identified have since been expanded to include all of Big Stone County. One of the first action items that was identified by the work group was the creation of a website as the vehicle to provide information to the world while connecting our communities and residents.
The Ortonville EDA provides staff as an in-kind contribution to the County-wide economic development group – Big Stone Area Growth. This EDA Staff had been part of the EDPros group that had been convened by the Upper Minnesota Regional Development Commission (UMVRDC) which had a regional recruitment topic with discussion on how to utilize Ben Winchester’s Brain Gain research.
Next (and simultaneously) C.K. Blandin Foundation’s Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) Program funded through the US Dept of Commerce’s NTI Broadband Technology Opportunities Program provided funding opportunities. The Ortonville School/Ortonville EDA was awarded a $10,000 MIRC grant in 2013 with goals to increase internet usage by giving businesses an understanding of how it can be used and the benefits it provides; increase internet usage by locals as more discover the information that they are able to obtain; and involving the youth.
With the UMVRDC and Blandin funding providing the broadband awareness foundation and the question of how to form regional recruitment based on the Brain Gain research, we now move into the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley’s project and the desire to promote our assets utilizing on-line tools.
Big Stone Area Growth applied for the Blandin Foundation’s Broadband Innovation Grant ($6,400 grant + match = $10,475) to assist with:
- community bloggers,
- social media lunches (for speakers and introduction to broadband tools)
– with additional help from the Southwest Initiative Foundation, MVTV Wireless and Minnwest Bank
- QR Code Signage, and
- the creation of community promotional videos.
We are just moving into the QR Code signage portion of our plans and although we have been creating and posting community videos on YouTube and Vimeo, we have not utilized the funding yet to create the more professional community videos.
Now, back to Author Peter Kageyama’s book “Love Where You Live” emphasizes the importance of co-creators… MNbump: we highlight the events and activities that our co-creators are planning and hosting by sharing their information on our website and Facebook. We also encourage all businesses and organization to have an on-line presence (website, facebook page or Google Business Listing) by offering a complete “phone book” style listing of all businesses and organizations – those that have an on-line listing, have a link which will take the visitor to their site which they update/host (if no on-line link, their name is listed; however, no further information is provided).
MNbump provides a connection for all of our residents in Big Stone County with an awareness of upcoming events and activities. By posting the photos and video of their events on our website and social media, we provide a glimpse of what life is like here on the MNbump to the world.
Big Stone County is also fortunate to be the beneficiary of the first round of Border to Border grant funds through the State of Minnesota through Federated Telephone – which is critical to bringing all of this together to provide the opportunity for those in Ben Winchester’s “Brain Gain” research to live in Big Stone County – and our MNbump efforts will help them to find us!