Rural Child Care Innovation Program Overview

The Rural Child Care Innovation Program (RCCIP), funded by MN Department of Human Services, is an initiative of First Children’s Finance to address the challenges of rural child care in Greater Minnesota through the lens of rural economic development.

The RCCIP uses a community engagement process designed to develop right-sized solutions to increase supply of high quality affordable child care in Minnesota’s rural communities.

Here’s info on their program…

The Rural Child Care Innovation Program is a community engagement process designed to develop right-sized solutions
to address the challenges of early care and education in the communities selected to participate.
Over a two-year period, selected communities will partner with First Children’s Finance to increase the supply of high
quality affordable child care in their local community.
What can a community expect as a result of participating in the Rural Child Care Innovation Program?
The Core Team and the greater community are provided background information on the child care industry along with
other resources that help inform the conversation around the importance of brain development in children, as well as
child care’s link to strong rural communities. Detailed demographic information is prepared along with at a Supply and
Demand Gap analysis report that highlights specific child care needs within the community. The community identifies
innovative solutions to address challenges, and these strategies, combined with local research, are included in a
customized Community Solution Action Plan. Communities that are invited to participate in the program can expect the
 Events that educate community members about the link between quality child care, rural economic
development and viable communities
 The community’s Core Team (see below) will increase their capacity to drive change by identifying resources and
focusing their efforts on solutions that make a difference in the supply of child care
 A thorough analysis of the current child care supply and evaluation of community factors impacting the local
child care supply
 Access to First Children’s Finance’s expertise, resources and tools, including research and financial modeling
 A Community Solution Action Plan that includes solutions generated through a facilitated Town Hall process
 Support and business improvement services to existing family child care providers and child care centers
Why should a community consider participating?
Communities with identified child care challenges impacting economic development in their community should consider
submitting an application. Child care shortages have broad implications beyond the family, and communities need to
address these issues with right-sized solutions that meet the unique needs of the community.
What should Core Team participants expect in the process?
The Core Team, identified in the community’s application, is a primary group of local leaders who become local
champions of child care as an economic development strategy. These community leaders will receive specific training
and business support throughout the process from First Children’s Finance staff. The Core Team, in partnership with
First Children’s Finance will provide leadership to identify solutions to the child care challenges. The project timeline
highlights the main areas of need for participation and each step of the community engagement process.

How does the program include existing child care providers?
While the broader conversation around child care needs continues, First Children’s Finance works directly with local
child care centers and family child care providers on their business needs. This includes a four month business cohort
experience, and one-on-one individualized consultation to identify needs to help support long-term sustainability efforts
and profitability of their programs.
How does the greater community participate?
Through demonstration and guided support, First Children’s Finance prepares the Core Team to communicate child care
needs through crafted presentations tailored for different audiences. The Core Team leads the engagement with the
community to inform potential solutions.
Are communities required to pay for any services provided in the program?
No, due to generous funding from MN Department of Human Services and other philanthropic partners, First Children’s
Finance does not require payment to participate in the Rural Child Care Innovation Program.
For more information please contact:
Jessica Beyer
Business Development Specialist
320-808-7066 (mobile)

Be Kind Absolutely to Everyone

Reposted with permission from Jane Leonard, the new president of Growth & Justice.

“Be kind absouloutly to everyone!” was the message greeting me in the mudroom at my sister-in-law’s home in Missouri over the holiday break, on a hand-made sign created by my five-year-old grand-niece.

The words gave me pause to consider my guiding tenets as I begin my new job as president of Growth & Justice.   As the Minnesota policy world knows and as our website declares, we are a 15-year-old research and advocacy organization that seeks a more inclusive prosperity for Minnesota, through innovative public policy proposals based on independent research and civic engagement. We believe when Minnesota makes smart investments in practical progressive solutions, it leads to broader prosperity for all.

This persistent push for equity – emphasizing that social justice and greater shareholding by all is actually good for sustainable business growth –  really drives the work of Growth & Justice.  And reflecting on my grand-niece’s wise words, it occurred to me that there truly are unbreakable links between basic kindness and equity and growth and justice. These words all involve sharing our abundance, an important belief to re-embrace, especially when too many laws and policies coming from Washington D.C. emphasize scarcity and selfishness and fear of our neighbors.

Be kind absolutely to everyone. 

I reflected on what had transpired over the past turbulent year, when kindness and empathy diminished in national policy-making, and as democracy’s guiding moral pillars quake in the chaos.

Colleagues, friends, relatives, and political pundits from the left, center and right have all pointed to the irresponsibility (and the  lack of kindness and equity) of  the recently passed federal tax bill, especially in light of an economy that’s already enormously lucrative for those at the top.   An equitable, responsible tax bill would have built on the economic gains we’ve made in recent years, to close gaps and plant seeds for the future. It would have encouraged more investments in all the ways our democracy can create more abundance and share it: through investments in human capital and physical infrastructure, such as affordable health care, education, roads, bridges, broadband, clean water – the things that give a healthy return on that investment.  In addition to staggering new debt and worsening inequality,  the federal tax bill also actually reduces many incentives for non-profit, charitable giving, and increasing economic opportunity through community action.

Deeper down, however, the way the tax bill came together and passed was the ultimate act of irresponsibility in a year of massive assaults on our democracy.  That is perhaps the most worrisome characteristic of our political system today, because it means policy is no longer created by We the People. It is policy by fiat, decrees by the few without enough public input. We have an allegedly representative government as our Constitution sets out, but a slim majority of those elected representatives voted against the clear, overwhelming wishes of a majority of their constituents, to benefit a handful of ultra billionaire donors at the top of the economic heap.

I’m old enough to remember that this “voodoo’’ economic policy (a term coined by former Republican President George H.W. Bush, and who later in his career famously called for a “kinder, gentler nation”) ultimately breaks those promises and worsens economic conditions.  The voodoo attempted by President Reagan a generation ago almost tripled the national debt, weakened the middle-class and flipped the United States from being the world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor in less than eight years.

It is in this fraught environment that I begin 2018 as the President of Growth & Justice. I take over from Dane Smith, who after 10 years at the helm, will continue as Senior Fellow in his transition to semi-retirement. I’m thankful for this, as together we make a formidable team. We’re both former journalists trained to get to the bottom of the story, and to shine the light on policy that is “kind absolutely to everyone,” to build an economy that is fairer and more prosperous across the board.

Be kind absolutely to everyone.

I come to Growth & Justice with a 35-year career in community, economic, and rural development behind me. I’ve worked in every sector and started a business, too. I just completed a three-year stint as the broadband grants administrator for the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development. There I had the honor of working with public and private sector partners to build out over 100 Border-to-Border Broadband grant projects constructing advanced  fiber, cable, and fixed wireless to thousands of households and businesses, and to hundreds of community institutions across unserved and underserved areas of Minnesota.

Border-to-Border Broadband construction, much like rural telephony and rural electrification 85 years ago, is one of the finest examples of  equity, and yes, kindness, on today’s policy stage.   It invests money from our common pot and kindly shares the wealth of the Twin Cities to equalize opportunity between urban and rural regions of the state.   It’s the old-fashioned Minnesota Way, a rural-urban socio-economic contract championed by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the Minnesota Legislature.  It’s been supported by a non-partisan state broadband task force, by the Governor and Lt. Governor (now a United States Senator), and guided by a small office of dedicated public servants, motivated by an  indomitable “We Can Do It” spirit, aided by thousands of local broadband providers and local citizens and businesses.

Broadband supporters see universal statewide access as the right thing to do – the kind and just thing to do — to bring universal equity of opportunity and rural-urban interconnectedness across our state for the good of all.   And it is so very good for business, competitiveness and free enterprise.  In recent months as the first- and second-round grant projects finished and advanced broadband was “turned on” for the first time in homes and businesses, I witnessed first-hand a distinct upsurge of entrepreneurial energy. It’s always been there, but is now clearly amplified by robust connections to markets, to education, to health care and to government services in ways not possible just a year ago.  My hope is that the recent overturn of  “Net Neutrality’’  principles by the Federal Communications Commission will not snuff out this bright light of ingenuity and innovation.

Minnesota’s broadband policy exemplifies the “One Minnesota” concept also being championed by Growth & Justice and our partners across all policy areas.   Yes, we are a state of diverse regions with diverse economic drivers and cultural frames, diverse towns and neighborhoods, and diverse races and people.  AND, no matter where we call home, we know we must care about each other,  listen to each other, and look out for each other because we are also one gigantic family, one community, One Minnesota.  We are interdependent economically and socially whether we know it or not.  Instinctively, and sometimes intentionally, we understand that by helping one another through local acts of kindness and equity and statewide progressive policy, we have each other’s backs. That is how we survive and thrive in this seemingly cold, inhospitable northern clime. That is the Minnesota Way. Our hearts and minds and hands work together to keep our homes and enterprises warm and welcoming to all.

Be kind absolutely to everyone.

A recent visit to the Someday Isle microenterprise hub the in Isle-Wahkon area of Minnesota, on the southern shore of Lake Mille Lacs where my family farm is located,  got me thinking about the realities on the ground. It’s here and in similar co-working sites such as those in St. Paul and Minneapolis that you see inspiring grassroots efforts to create a sustainable and just economy at the local level.

What if state policy, in contrast to the federal tax bill, was focused in coming years on holistic local community development  and local microenterprise?  What if  our state policy and Minnesota tax bills supported more public/private investments in broadband infrastructure and digital literacy?  What if  state policy was a catalyst to invest in lifelong learning and affordable universal health care?  What if  state policy was “Kind Absolutely to Everyone?”  What if instead of tax giveaways and hand-outs to the wealthy, we concentrated on a fair hand-up to anyone seeking the opportunity to help their families, help their communities, and help start and strengthen businesses, across all economic and social strata?

In 2018 and beyond, these questions  will guide our research and story-telling, toward building and supporting coalitions, that lead to policy development,  that help create a more prosperous and progressive Minnesota, a state that continues to live up to its reputation for fairness.   At Growth & Justice, the goal is clear, and our journey will be guided in part by the wisdom of a precocious five-year-old: Be kind absolutely to everyone!

Happy New Year!

Posted in:

Hemp industry lauds Sen McConnell for introduction of The Hemp Farming Act of 2018

Happy to share the press release…

FRANKFORT – The U.S. Hemp Roundtable, the industry association that joins the nation’s leading hemp companies and all of its major grassroots organizations, today lauded U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell upon his announcement of the pending introduction of “The Hemp Farming Act of 2018.” Leader McConnell’s bill, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY), would permanently remove hemp from regulation as a controlled substance and treat it as an agricultural commodity. Similar legislation, H.R. 3530, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2017,” was introduced last year by Rep. James Comer (R-KY), and has been co-sponsored by 43 of his colleagues, from both sides of the aisle.

“The hemp industry is very grateful to Leader McConnell for his strong leadership over the years on behalf of providing Kentucky farmers – and the whole U.S. agricultural commodity – this exciting new economic opportunity,” stated Roundtable President Brian Furnish, an 8th generation tobacco farmer from Cynthiana, who credits the Leader with empowering his transition from tobacco to hemp. “Leader McConnell’s persistence and commitment has gotten us to this point – through his work on the 2014 Farm Bill and subsequent legislation that created today’s hemp pilot programs. There’s no better person to help get us across the finish line.”

“While this has been, and will continue to be, a broadly bipartisan effort in Congress, when the history of hemp legalization is written, the two most important figures will be Mitch McConnell and James Comer,” stated Roundtable General Counsel Jonathan Miller, who previously served as Kentucky’s State Treasurer and Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. “Everyone who is working so hard to build this nascent industry understands that we owe deep appreciation to Senator McConnell for his strong commitment and steady leadership on this issue.”

Child Care for Economic Growth – policies at the MN Legislature

The Greater Minnesota Partnership and Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities recently posted a fact sheet on the Child Care Conundrum. The outline proposals this legislative session to address this problem…

  • Funding for Initiative Foundations to help expand access to quality childcare HF 2424 (Gunther)/SF 2090 (Nelson) provides $1.5 million for grants awarded to Initiative Foundations for the planning, coordination, training and education necessary to expand child care access. This proposal is based on a successful pilot program initiated by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation which helped child care providers with business improvement planning and quality mentoring with an aim toward the goal of becoming rated under Minnesota’s Parent Aware Quality Rating System.
  • Bonding & general fund appropriation for child care facilities HF 4032 (Gunther)/SF 3578 (Eken) provides $5 million in bonding and $5 million from the general fund to provide grants to local governments and non-profits in Greater Minnesota to cover up to 50% of the costs to build, upgrade or expand child care facilities to increase capacity and meet state requirements.
  • Grants to increase child care availability HF 3605 (Baker)/SF 3316 (Utke) allocates $519,000 to the Minnesota Child Care Grant Program, which aims to increase the supply of child care providers to support economic development. In 2017, this program received $519,000 in funding which created more than 300 new child care slots.

Hemp, Inc. Reports: Sessions Gives Green Light to Cannabis Industry

Big News!

SPRING HOPE, NC, March 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Hemp, Inc. (OTC PINK: HEMP), a global leader in the industrial hemp industry with the largest multipurpose industrial hemp processing facility in the western hemisphere, appreciates the clarity provided by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions in his recent statement that the U.S. Justice Department would not be pursuing small marijuana cases.

According to The Guardian, “Federal prosecutors will not take on small-time marijuana cases, despite the Trump justice department’s decision to lift an Obama-era policy that discouraged authorities from cracking down on the trade in states where the drug is legal.” Sessions told students in a speech that, Federal law enforcement lacks the resources to take on “routine cases” and will continue to only focus on gangs and larger conspiracies.
While this is good news for the cannabis industry at large, Sessions’ stance on cannabis does not include industrial hemp nor does it include kenaf – both plants are being planted and harvested by Hemp, Inc. and its strategic farming partners in North Carolina. Hemp products are high in cannabidiol (CBD) and have only trace amounts of THC – the psychoactive component in marijuana that most associate with being “high;” hemp-derived CBD products are legal to import and sell in all 50 states.

The Company issued an announcement on Jan. 5, 2018, about “Sessions’ Obsession” with marijuana and how it does not impact the industrial hemp industry. Hemp, Inc. CEO Bruce Perlowin also recently spoke with cannabis-focused media outlet ”Cashinbis” about the reasons why the U.S. government’s stance on marijuana does not affect the industrial hemp industry.

“We are encouraged by Sessions’ latest remarks but want to make it clear to the public and our shareholders that hemp products are completely legal for consumers to purchase and/or consume in the United States,” said Hemp, Inc. CEO Bruce Perlowin. “We are aggressively ramping up our operations to capture the multi-billion, dollar hemp market, which is projected to grow 700% and hit $1.8 billion by 2020.”

Hemp, Inc. announced on Jan. 4th that the Company was shipping its first purchase orders of loss-circulation material DrillWall™ and Kenaf fiber. On Jan. 25, 2018, the Company announced it had fulfilled its first purchase order for Spill-Be-Gone™, part of Hemp, Inc.’s spill-absorbent family of products.  As part of the Company’s ongoing expansion of its operations, Hemp, Inc. announced on March 7, 2018, that it was set to grow up to 25,000 acres of industrial hemp this year, thus further positioning North Carolina as the epicenter of the industrial hemp industry.

Also, as you may recall, in August 2017, Hemp, Inc. announced the official launch of its NuAxon Tech CO2 Supercritical Extractor. On Nov. 2, 2017, Hemp, Inc. announced the delivery of its advanced CBD hemp oil extraction post-processing equipment, thus completing the Company’s hemp oil extraction infrastructure. Hemp, Inc. announced its consulting agreement with HQ Global Education, Inc. on March 13, 2018. In addition, the Company announced March 21, 2018, its long-term strategy to build the world’s largest hemp oil extraction infrastructure by creating joint ventures with multiple companies to house and operate their CBD extraction equipment in its 85,000-square foot facility in Spring Hope, North Carolina. The first company of these joint ventures is HQ Global Education, Inc. (OTC: HQGE), a scientific research development company.

The agreement between Hemp, Inc. and HQ Global Education, Inc. is the first step toward executing Hemp, Inc.’s strategic plan to have a joint venture between the two companies wherein Hemp, Inc. will house and operate a HQ Global Education, Inc. CBD extractor.

HQ Global Education, Inc.’s exclusive educational database is one of the largest and valuable resources in the industry, reporting on thousands of hours of research that have been accumulated, tested and verified by professionals in the field. Per the consulting agreement in cooperation with Hemp, Inc., HQ Global Education, Inc. intends to become a leading provider of the highest-quality customizable extractions of CBD oil to this rapidly-growing industry.

Top Ten Cybersecurity Tips

Great tips from the SBA

  1. Protect against viruses, spyware, and other malicious code
  2. Secure your networks
  3. Establish security practices and policies to protect sensitive information
  4. Educate employees about cyberthreats and hold them accountable 
  5. Require employees to use strong passwords and to change them often 
  6. Employ best practices on payment cards 
  7. Make backup copies of important business data and information
  8. Control physical access to computers and network components
  9. Create a mobile device action plan
  10. Protect all pages on your public-facing websites, not just the checkout and sign-up pages


Celebrating Women in Energy: Anne Hunt with Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s Office

We’re celebrating Women’s History month by highlighting Women in Energy – thanks to Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries…

The Minnesota Women in Energy series highlights influential women who are part of our state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. CERTs is highlighting these leaders during the month of March in 2018, which is Women’s History Month. As part of the series we interviewed Anne Hunt, Former Environmental Policy Director for City of Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, to learn more about her work, what inspires her, and how other women can get involved in the industry. Read on to learn more! Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in the energy world in Minnesota?   Anne Hunt: I was honored twelve years ago to be appointed by Mayor Chris Coleman to serve as the City of Saint Paul’s first sustainability director.

Read more.