HJ-ED-DHJ

August 13, 2007

Foundation benefits both Dassel area and Meeker County

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Charger Chiropractic & Soft Tissue Center of Dassel was one of the examples Tuesday of how the Southwest Initiative Foundation, SWIF, is helping Meeker County.

Dr. Shane Colberg of the new chiropractic clinic at 450 4th St. N., was the recipient of a SWIF loan, said Liz Maiers, development officer of the foundation in her annual report to the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.

The 18-county foundation has changed its goals in the second year of its five-year plan, Maiers said. Instead of being a reactive grant-maker, foundation officials have shifted its strategic plans to being proactive in its economic advancement, leadership and community development, and in building regional capacity, she said.

In addition to assisting entrepreneur Colberg, SWIF provided a grant to Dassel Cokato school district’s “For the Love of Reading” program, and to the Minnesota Beautiful “Picture It Painted” program for the Dassel Area Historical Society.

Pro Tech Machining of Darwin also received a SWIF loan, according to the report.

Between 1986 and Dec. 31, 2005, SWIF has invested nearly $2 million in grants and loans in Meeker County. Another $1.1 millions benefits Meeker County in partnership with neighboring counties, according to the report.

Of that total, $1.8 million is matched dollar-for-dollar by the McKnight Grant. As a result, the foundation asked to be put into the 2008 county budget for $6,800. The funding request is based on 30 cents per resident per year, she said.

In addition to entrepreneurship, the foundation also is emphasizing renewable energy for its economic advancement goal. It will focus on schools and communities implementing renewable energy development, such as wind power, for example.

County Commissioner Amy Wilde said she recalled how SWIF also helped fund “senior friendly” surveys in 35 cities in southwest Minnesota. The surveys resulted in seniors getting more buses for public transit and more opportunities for assisted living, she said.

Wilde also presented a proposal to Maiers about a program Prime West Health System was asked to apply for that significantly affects entrepreneurship. Health insurance is a “huge hurdle” for entrepreneurs wanting to open small businesses or take on additional employees. The proposal she gave Maiers helps those who don’t offer health insurance at all to their employees, she said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the board of commissioners:

• authorized the forfeiture of Mike Alford’s two 80-foot by 90-foot mobile homes in the mobile home park in Dassel; an abandoned gas station with a small apartment in Kingston, and the removal of two 1,000-gallon underground gas tanks; a rambler full of debris that needs to be cleaned before it’s sold in the Greenleaf and Lake Minnie Belle area; and 10 acres of swamp and cattails owned by Jim Tews in the Greenleaf area.

• approved a lot-split for Keith Blad of Dassel at the BMW Liquidators property.

• pointed out to Suzanne Hedtke, county economic development director, that when the Meeker Memorial Clinic in Dassel started, with the assistance of the EDA, it encouraged Farmers State Bank of Darwin to open a branch office, also in the Haekenkamp development.


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