Can art bring rural and urban together? This woman is going to make it work.

Here’s a great story of making a difference in your own way. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports…

Ashley Hanson responded to last year’s election by buying a little yellow school bus.

In January, she drove it across the country, visiting artists in cities with fewer than 10,000 people. She stopped in 24 towns in 20 states. Talked with 127 people. Trekked more than 6,200 miles. Her goal: to better understand the disconnect, made clear by polls and voting maps, between folks in urban and rural areas.

“As someone who straddles the line between urban and rural very often, I felt that my role had shifted to cultural translator,” said Hanson, 34, a St. Paul-based theater artist and musician.

If you’re near Winona, you can see the work…

This month at the Outpost Winona, Hanson will share the stories people in those small towns told, trinkets they offered and letters they wrote. The exhibition, which also features videos and works by several “resident” artists who traveled with her, opens Oct. 20, with events all weekend. The bus, which Hanson named Gus, will be there, too — despite proving unreliable.

Learn about the Hemp Revolution

For all of you that stopped at the County EDA Booth at the County Fair to find out about the Industrial Hemp Study for farmers.  In an effort to get out some quick sources of information, I found this great documentary that is a quick primer on Hemp.  This will assist you to understand the history of the growing of this crop in our history, its ban in the 1930’s and why it is having a resurgence of interest now in the 21st Century.

So what was old is new again.  This is a great piece that will give a lot of good information about the Hope of Industrial Hemp and what we can accomplish with a sustainable plant that is versatile and had many market platforms.  Don’t forget it is a plant source that provides all of the amino acids a human needs.  This same plant makes a more robust paper product than traditional wood pulp paper as well as makes breathable wall panels for building purposes and Hempcrete blocks that are better than concrete because it breathes and will not cause mold to form.

We are getting excited about Industrial Hemp and Clean Energy.  Both of these topics will be covered at our upcoming conference in January of 2018.  Two full days of great information about Industrial Hemp and Solar and wind energy opportunities for Farms and Commercial Businesses.

Stay tuned for more information.

Have a great weekend, and enjoy the Hemp Documentary!  Exciting stuff folks and hopeful possibilities!

VIEWING NOTE: For those of you that would rather not view the lengthy section on the film about Marijuana, please know that you can end the counter of the film at 39.54 and move forward by sliding the horizontal slide all the way to 56.34 and watch the rest.  There are other mentions of Marijuana to the end of the film but this is a compendium of all Hemp.

I hope this will not deter you from watching in order to know the difference between the two plants and the historic information that has caused Industrial Hemp to be suppressed from growing since the 1930s.  The film in its entirety is still more tame than most of the movies that are being cranked out by Hollywood, however I wanted to make the slider counter information available so you can choose to move forward rather than viewing what you would rather not.

Minnesota has 122,900 Job Vacancies in Second Quarter

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)

Minnesota employers reported more than 122,900 job vacancies in the second quarter of 2017, indicating the state labor market is extremely tight as baby boomers retire from the workforce and moderate job growth continues, according to figures released today by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

DEED said job vacancies were up 26 percent from the same period one year ago, when there were 97,580 vacancies statewide.

According to the figures, the Twin Cities had less than one unemployed person (0.8) for every job vacancy. In Greater Minnesota, the ratio was 1.1 unemployed people for each job vacancy.

Read more.

AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program

AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program – a great opportunity. Learn more below or on the MN Department of Ag website.

Purpose

These grants support innovative on-farm research and demonstrations. Projects must explore sustainable agricultural practices and systems, and findings are published in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s annual Greenbook publication.

Who’s Eligible

Applications from farmers receive priority, but the program also funds Minnesota nonprofit and educational organizations as long as Minnesota farmers are meaningfully involved in the project. Projects can last from two to three years, and applicants may receive up to $25,000 for their projects, although many request less. Grantees must be willing to share what they learn with others.

Applicants must live or work in Minnesota and demonstrations must occur on farms located in the state. An applicant is eligible to receive only one AGRI Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant at a time. Grantees who complete projects are eligible to receive additional grants to either continue the project or for a new idea.

Please review the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant RFP background information and guidelines page, which includes the reviewer scoring criteria.

What’s Eligible and Amount Available

The program objectives are to explore the profitability, energy efficiency, and benefits of sustainable agriculture practices and systems from production through marketing. Grants are available to fund on-farm research and demonstrations and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Farm diversification using traditional and non-traditional crops and livestock
  • Cover crops and crop rotations
  • Conservation tillage
  • Input reduction strategies, including nutrient and pesticide management
  • On-farm energy production, such as wind, methane, or biomass
  • Developing/refining marketing opportunities, season extension, and post-harvest storage and handling
  • Other creative ideas that focus on conservation, energy, profitability, and/or farmers’ quality of life.

The program does not fund projects that duplicate previously funded projects. It may, however, fund similar projects in parts of the state where the practice or system is still considered new or innovative. We encourage you to read prior issues of the Greenbook, which contains summaries and locations of previous grants. Using the Greenbook will help you design a competitive project.

A total of nearly $250,000 is available this year.

Application Period

The Fiscal Year (FY)2018 application period is open from August 17, 2017 to December 13, 2017.

Link to Application

We strongly encourage you to Apply online.  For instructions on how to register to apply, review this tutorial (PDF: 867 KB / 8 pages).

*If you would prefer an electronic or paper copy of the application, please contact Ann Kuzj at 651-201-6028 or ann.kuzj@state.mn.us.

Frequently Asked Questions

Submit all questions regarding the RFP to Ann Kuzj at ann.kuzj@state.mn.us. All questions received, along with the answers to those questions, will be posted on the FAQ page.

Access to Capital 101: Funding Options to Start and Grow Your Business Webinars

Access to Capital 101: Funding Options to Start and Grow Your Business

Are you having trouble obtaining funding for your business? Through these free national webinars, we will help you navigate the funding landscape and connect you with resources to help you obtain the capital needed to start and grow your business.

Upcoming Dates and Times:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 – 11:00 AM PDT / 2:00 PM EDT
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 – 11:00 AM PDT / 2:00 PM EDT
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – 11:00 AM PDT / 2:00 PM EDT
Wednesday, November 15, 2017 – 11:00 AM PDT / 2:00 PM EDT

Register Today!

St Charles MN finds recycling a boon to local economy

Winona Post reports…

Out back, the rear of the new Envirolastech plant in St. Charles is practical, not pretty. Eighty tons worth of milk jugs and similar plastics are stacked in bales. A loading dock ramp leads up to a stockpile of broken glass bottles. A skid steer sits parked nearby. This is where the magic starts.

From there, the old bottles from around Southeast Minnesota will be cleaned, ground up, and mixed into proprietary formulas and extrusion molded into deck-building materials, pallets that withstand water and freezing temperatures, and permeable pavers that are — according to Envirolastech — stronger than concrete.

In a community where some have longed for a return of manufacturing jobs since the Northstar Foods fire of 2009, Envirolastech leaders say they have created 19. Their LEED-certified building captures rainwater for use in the manufacturing process, and last week, hosted a contingent from Governor Dayton’s cabinet. “This is a crown jewel for us right now,” St. Charles Mayor John Schaber said of the new factory.

It’s a great idea for any community. Read More