■ Small Business Saturday asks
shoppers to support their neighbors
This Saturday, shoppers have an opportunity to support their lakes area neighbors by supporting Small Busines Saturday.
The U.S. Small Business Administration notes Nov. 24 is a day to “celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.” Shopping at a small business is a way to directly support the local economy and help small business owners retain jobs right here.
The day is also an opportunity for small businesses to showcase what they have to offer and how they can compete with big box and online shopping. Downtown Brainerd business owners often report hearing shoppers say they didn’t know the business was there, even with long-standing stores. So for consumers, the day is also a chance to be more informed about what the community has to offer.
Shoppers are encouraged to take a look at the small businesses in their community, go inside and see what they might have overlooked in their own hometown.
American Express reported last year more than one hundred million people came together to shop the small businesses in their communities.
■ Farmers, ag businesses and entrepreneurs targeted
for new grant program
Minnesota agricultural producers and processors may now apply for grants to implement value added projects to their operations.
A total of $700,000 in funding was made available through the Agricultural Growth, Research and Innovation Program (AGRI), established by the legislature to advance Minnesota’s agricultural and renewable energy industries. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will distribute the funds through its AGRI Value Added Grant Program which aims to increase sales of Minnesota agricultural products by diversifying markets and by increasing market access and food safety.
Specifically, these grants are intended to:
• initiate or expand livestock product processing;
• create feasibility, business, marketing and succession plans for existing and new businesses;
• purchase equipment to initiate, upgrade, or modernize value added businesses;
• increase on-farm food safety, such as implementation of a food safety plan
• increase farmers’ processing and aggregating capacity to enter farm-to-school and other markets.
Proposals that have a meat processing, farm-to-school (or other institution) component, or are addressing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) or similar type of food safety plan will receive priority, but all value added proposals are encouraged to apply. Small to medium sized operations will also receive special consideration.
Proposals that include business planning, feasibility studies, marketing planning and succession planning are eligible for 50 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $30,000.
Equipment purchases or physical improvements are eligible for 25 percent of the total project cost up to a maximum grant award of $70,000 with a completed business plan or food safety plan. A business or food safety plan must outline what equipment and improvements are necessary to fulfill the plan.
The grants will be distributed in two rounds. Round one applications must be received by the MDA no later than 4 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2012. Round two applications must be received no later than 4 p.m. on March 1, 2013. Proposals may be delivered by mail, in person or by email. If a proposal is emailed, the time and date it is received by the program administrator will be considered the received-by date.
■ BWSR requests comments
on wetland report
Public comments sought on draft report known as Supporting and Strengthening Implementation of the State’s Wetland Policy.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) prepared the draft report in response to Gov. Mark Dayton’s executive order. Comments are sought through noon on Nov. 26.
The governor’s order directs BWSR to work in cooperation with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department Transportation, Department of Agriculture and invited stakeholders regarding how to maintain no net loss of wetlands as a state goal under the Wetland Conservation Act and to further advance the long-term protection and enhancement of Minnesota’s wetland resources.
In September and October, BWSR hosted a series of meetings to invite input from stakeholders and to draw out different perspectives in the context of the regional economies, wetland resources and related natural resource or environmental conditions.
BWSR compiled issues and recommendations from the stakeholder input process to create the draft report, now open for comment. All input received by the deadline will be considered in the development of the final report.
A draft of the final document will be presented to the BWSR Wetlands Committee after the comment period has closed. The report as recommended by the committee will be submitted to the BWSR Board for their review on Dec. 12. The final report is due to the governor’s office by Dec. 15.
To learn more about the process or to view the draft report, visit the BWSR website at: www.bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/executive_order_12-04/ or contact Dave Weirens at 651-297-3432.
■ Find a cornucopia of local
foods for your Thanksgiving feast
It’s easy to incorporate Minnesota grown foods into your annual Thanksgiving meal.
With the help of the Minnesota Grown Directory and some pre-planning, your holiday guests can enjoy everything from the main course to desserts made with Minnesota grown meats and produce.
Let’s start with turkey, which has center stage in a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Minnesota is the number one turkey producing state in the nation, with 250 family farmers raising approximately 46 million turkeys annually. You can find Minnesota raised turkeys in the grocery store, at the co-op, and buy them direct from small scale farmers.
There are great locally grown foods such as potatoes, wild rice and winter squash to compliment the main course. These foods are popular and versatile, store well and can be found in stores and on the farm.
Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert and there are many options including pumpkin pie made from local pumpkins and apple pies made from Haralson and other locally grown varieties. Many Minnesota apple orchards still have their shops open for sales of apple pies and apple cider.
One of the fastest growing segments of Minnesota agriculture is the farm winery industry. From reds to whites, dry to fruity, more than 30 Minnesota wineries take orders online or over the phone, or you can stop in for a tasting and pick up a bottle or two.
You can find all these and many other Minnesota grown products in the Minnesota Grown Directory, online and in print. This year’s edition is proud to have 13 wild rice producers, 26 potato farms, 113 apple orchards and more than 60 farms growing one or more varieties of squash. Visit www.minnesotagrown.com to find a farmer near you or call 1-888-TOURISM to receive your free copy of the Minnesota Grown Directory.