New Partnership to Help Agri-Businesses in Minnesota – And You Can Help!

New from the MN SBA…

New Partnership to Help Agri-Businesses in Minnesota 

SCORE and USDA have partnered to help the ag community in Minnesota.  SCORE is adding a focus area with its volunteer network to work with farmers and ranchers across the country. Minnesota is part of the pilot program to provide free and confidential business mentoring and more to people seeking support in the early stages of building a farm/ranch business or in growing their current operation.

There are thousands of new and established agri businesses that could benefit from professional support. SCORE with its highly experienced business personnel is in an ideal position to offer this support. Initially the program will be managed by SCORE National. Five states, including Minnesota, are part of the pilot program.

In Minnesota, SCORE will conduct mentoring activities both in person and electronically, host training classes and offer general support to small agri businesses. It will work through the Farm Service agency, a division of USDA.

SCORE is looking for people in three categories:

Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs
If you are a business owner or ready to start an agri business, let SCORE help you start or grow your business.

Business Advisors
If you are in the business of helping other businesses and have a client that you feel could benefit from working with a SCORE volunteer, please send them our way for free mentoring and classes.

New Volunteers
Do you have experience in farming or the industries that support ag?  SCORE would love to talk with you about how you could help their efforts by being a volunteer.

No matter which of the three above you are, SCORE stands ready to help. You can contact SCORE at or call or email Marshall Jones at 612-345-4635, mjones5724 at

Getting set up will be simple and quick.

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.

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

Wind power in growing in Minnesota

What does Lac qui Parle have a lot of? Wind! And that can be good news if we use it well. Minnesota Public Radio recently reported…

The U.S. Department of Energy found a growth spurt in the wind power industry last year, both in Minnesota and nationally.

New data from the U.S. Energy Department shows Minnesota wind energy capacity increased about 9 percent last year.

Minnesota added enough new wind energy last year to power about 150,000 homes.

The cost of wind power rivals other forms of electricity generation, said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman.

“Wind is now turning out to be one of the lowest cost alternatives — competitive with natural gas, and with other forms of electricity,” he said. “That’s why we’re seeing such a huge growth in the wind energy in Minnesota.

Wind power accounts for nearly 18 percent of the electricity generated in Minnesota. The state ranks seventh in the nation for wind energy.

SBA highlights business resources for women

From the latest SBA newsletter…

SBA Resources for Women Business Owners

Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO), including funding, and government contracting information, training and more.

Women’s Business Center, Twin Cities Metro
Women’s Business Center, Duluth

SBA Minnesota District Office

ChallengeHER a Success

More than 100 women (and men) came to learn how to successfully navigate the federal contracting industry and win federal contracts. Guest speakers helped the audience understand the rules and strategies to obtain contracts set aside for Women Owned Small Businesses.

Check out photos from the event here:

Research to Revenue Tour of Minnesota

The federal Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs seek to transform scientific discovery into societal and economic benefit by catalyzing private sector commercialization of technological innovations.

The programs increase the incentive and opportunity for startups and small businesses to undertake cutting-edge, high-quality scientific research and development.

Eleven federal agencies provide grants or contracts in phases up to $1.5M.

Learn more at the remaining tour events:
September 7 – St. Cloud
September 13 – Mankato
September 14 – Metro
September 20 – Rochester (By Appt Only)

For more information and to register, go to

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power to get 100 MW of wind power

Read the latest from the MN Commerce Department...

EDF Renewable Energy has signed an agreement to supply Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency with 100 megawatts of wind energy from the Stoneray Wind Project in Minnesota beginning in 2020. Construction is expected to commence in early 2018 with an anticipated commercial operation date of December 2018. Stoneray Wind Project, located in Pipestone and Murray counties in southwestern Minnesota, will be composed of up to 50 wind turbine generators. The project was made possible due to grid transmission expansion. The project is expected to provide 150-plus construction jobs and 10 long-term, full-time positions as well as millions of dollars in ongoing economic benefits to the local area through tax revenue generated by the projects. Read more.

State receives $13 million in additional federal energy assistance funds to help low-income Minnesotans

Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERT) reports…

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that Minnesota has received an additional $13 million in federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds for the state’s Energy Assistance Program.

This second and final installment of funding means that Minnesotans who qualified for energy assistance after money ran out in mid-April and who applied before the May 31 program deadline will now receive assistance to pay their heating bills from the past winter.

Minnesota received $101 million, or the bulk of its federal energy assistance funding, last October. The new federal installment brings the 2016-2017 heating season total to $114 million.

“The heating season is over, but many Minnesotans who were counting on help to pay their heating bills will get the help they need,” said Rothman, whose agency includes the state energy office. “Many Minnesotans struggle to make ends meet year-round, so this energy assistance helps provide important relief.”

To date this year, the state’s Energy Assistance Program served over 126,000 Minnesota households, with the average grant per household at just over $520.

The program helps homeowners and renters who earn less than 50 percent of the state’s median income ($47,194 for a family of four) pay heating bills through grant money paid directly to utility companies and heating fuel vendors on behalf of customers.

Minnesotans who have difficulty paying their heating bills are encouraged to apply for energy assistance. Households that include children under the age of six, people with disabilities, veterans and seniors are especially encouraged to apply.

The Minnesota Commerce Department administers the Energy Assistance Program in partnership with 30 local service providers throughout the state. The program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2016-2017 application deadline was May 31, so applications received after that date are not eligible to receive benefits for the past program year. However, these applicants may be eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program or other assistance through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.

Minnesotans who inquire about the program after May 31 will also be put on a mailing list to automatically receive an application for the next heating season.

Energy assistance applications for 2017-18 will be accepted beginning on October 1. Funding is administered on a first-come, first-served basis, so Minnesotans are urged to apply as soon as possible after October 1.

Qualifying households must apply for energy assistance through the local service provider in their area. To identify and contact your local service provider; call 800-657-3710 or visit the Energy Assistance Program section of the Minnesota Commerce Department website.