“ COVID struck when our business was 1 year old. Our banker encouraged us to reach out to the Initiative Foundation for help. They are helping us to better manage the accounting side of the business, and their encouragement and positivity is just amazing.”

– Eric and Tamey DoBrava, Market 12, Delano

Rural Voice, Little Falls
MORRISON: Little Falls resident Greg Spofford addresses issues of loneliness and social isolation with Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio.

MORRISON COUNTY | Town Hall Tackles Topic of Loneliness, Social Isolation
A capacity crowd of 70 joined Minnesota Public Radio’s Kerri Miller and the Initiative Foundation for an October 2023 town hall at the A.T. The Black & White in Little Falls. The topic: mental health and social isolation in rural areas. “It was a wonderful blend of life experience, anecdotes and valuable expertise,” Miller said. Thanks to the Otto Bremer Trust and Compeer Financial for sponsoring this crucial community conversation. Learn more at ruralvoice.org.

TODD COUNTY | Enterprise Academy Expedites Entrepreneurs’ Dreams
Rural entrepreneurs have an uphill climb when it comes to building a business. Add a language barrier and reaching your business dreams can be even more difficult. To make the path smoother, the Initiative Foundation in 2023 brought its Enterprise Academy program to Long Prairie. Through weekly classes, delivered in Spanish, students advanced their business ideas under the guidance of culturally adept trainers and educators. A new cohort launched this spring in Long Prairie.

WADENA COUNTY | Loan Helps Helicopter Business Reach New Heights
Former military helicopter pilot and engineer Joe Loscheider has owned Loscheider Helicopter for five years and provides crop-spraying and aerial firefighting services for the Department of Natural Resources. When the Wadena resident wanted to expand and refine his business, he turned to the Initiative Foundation and Pine Country Bank for lending support. Loscheider will use the funds to make upgrades and to purchase a fuel truck and additional firefighting equipment.

Pequot Lakes knitting class
CROW WING: Grant funding helped Pequot Lakes fifth-grade students learn how to knit.

CASS COUNTY | Leech Lake Band Plans Wild Rice Processing Plant
Wild rice is sacred to the people of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and important to its economy. A $10,000 Initiative Foundation grant is planting the seeds for a wild rice processing plant, which would allow band members to harvest, package and distribute from one location rather than outsource the work. This project is supported by a host of partners, including the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

CROW WING COUNTY | Knitting Together New Hobby, Friendships
Creating unforgettable learning experiences for students is one goal of the Pequot Lakes Patriot Foundation, an Initiative Foundation Partner Fund. A recent grant helped fifth-grade students learn a new hobby—knitting. The students all had a chance to knit during recess and before school. In addition to building skills and a new hobby, the experience provided students with the opportunity to craft new relationships. A group of students even knitted 15 hats for local veterans.

MILLE LACS COUNTY | Backroad Meats Expands to Meet Milaca-area Demand
Backroad Meats has become a go-to stop in the Milaca area for ready-to-eat meats. Supported by an Initiative Foundation loan, the business, which has seen 300 percent growth since its founding in 2019, is purchasing retail space for the sale of its smoked, sliced and packaged products. With this expansion, Backroad Meats owner Rob Isaacson looks forward to serving farmers and customers in the Milaca area and beyond.

Harvester Square
BENTON: Harvester Square hosts events of all sizes in the refurbished building.

BENTON COUNTY | Distillery, Event Venue Add to East St. Cloud Options
A nearly 100-year-old building has a new life in east St. Cloud. Iron Street Distillery and event venue Harvester Square—a nod to original occupants International Harvester Company—opened in late 2023. The Harvester Square project received Minnesota Main Street Economic Revitalization funding administered by the Initiative Foundation. Both projects were chosen as 2024 project of the year by the Economic Development Association of Minnesota.

SHERBURNE COUNTY | Ruff Start: Donors Step Up for Strays, Rescues
Neglected pets are getting a second chance through Princeton’s Ruff Start Rescue and the support of generous donors. During Give to the Max Day in November 2023, Ruff Start Rescue, an attendee at Initiative Foundation nonprofit development training events, raised nearly $225,000. The organization typically has 300 to 500 animals in its care, with about 600 active foster homes. Learn more at ruffstartrescue.org.

STEARNS COUNTY | Grants Support Cold Spring Downtown Upgrades
Grants administered by the Initiative Foundation are helping to inject more than $2 million into downtown Cold Spring. Through a partnership with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Initiative Foundation delivered $505,750 in grants to 16 Cold Spring businesses. Businesses had to secure the remaining 70 percent of project costs. Quarry Cinema is using its funding for repairs and renovations while the local hardware store (The Wenner Company) is getting an updated exterior.

WRIGHT COUNTY | Community Action Helps Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure
Wright County Community Action (WCCA) is filling an important gap for homeowners dealing with post-pandemic struggles. When the COVID-era HomeHelpMN program stopped taking applications in July 2023, WCCA stepped in to help. Supported by an Initiative Foundation grant, the organization added temporary staff to help at least five households avoid foreclosure. Another 14 homeowners received other forms of assistance.

Grantwriting 101
CHISAGO: Grant Writing 101 was held in collaboration with the Chisago County Housing Redevelopment & Economic Development Authority and Chisago County.

CHISAGO COUNTY | A Packed House for Grant Writing Workshop
More than 60 nonprofit and government staff joined the Initiative Foundation for an immersive grant writing training session at Lake Region EMS in North Branch. Led by expert grant writer Deneene Graham, attendees learned how to be ready to apply when grant opportunities present. Graham also reviewed the basic elements of a grant proposal and provided tips for building funder relationships. Thanks to the Chisago County Housing Redevelopment and Economic Development Authority and Chisago County for the partnership.

ISANTI COUNTY | Highway 65 Billboard Elevates Need for Childcare
The Isanti County Child Care Leadership Team is making a splash along Highway 65 between Cambridge and McGregor with two billboards championing the need for childcare providers. With Initiative Foundation grant support, the childcare team is building awareness and closing gaps so children can have quality, affordable care while their parents work. The Isanti County childcare numbers are stark: Providers have 670 slots available yet the wider community has a need for 361 more.


KANABEC COUNTY | Ogilvie Works to Preserve Historic Water Tower
Water tower or castle? That’s a question you might ask yourself when you see the historic Ogilvie water tower. Built in 1918 to resemble a European castle, the decommissioned water tower is on the National Register of Historic places and was among the first towers in Minnesota constructed from reinforced concrete. An Initiative Foundation grant is helping the Ogilvie Tower Museum Association raise funds and connect with supporters.

PINE COUNTY | More Than Sprouts Grocery Store Growing
More Than Sprouts provides healthy, fresh food options to the Pine City community. The business is doing some growing of its own as it moves to a larger building and adds more food options. An Initiative Foundation loan is helping owner Heidi Carlson respond to customer demand as she provides groceries and daily deli items to an area that would otherwise lack grocery store access.

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Regional Highlights

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