Fall in central Minnesota has swept by swiftly in a flurry of football games, school referendums and leaf-raking chores and as a result, a stroke of this region's good fortune may have gone unnoticed or under-appreciated.
The good fortune took the form of the McKnight Foundation's largest grant to the Little Falls-based Initiative Foundation - a grant for $5 million with an additional $2.2 million in a matching grant for a $7.2 million total. The money will be disbursed during the next five years.
The Initiative Foundation, a little more than 20 years old, provides gap lending for new and expanding businesses, grants for economic development and leadership training in a 14-county area of central Minnesota.
The focus from now until 2012 is strengthening economic opportunity, preserving key places and natural resources, promoting organizational effectiveness and fund development.
The work of the Initiative Foundation is as varied as the communities it serves. The organization promotes efforts to: combat the meth epidemic, sustain environmentally healthy development and bolster small manufacturers. The foundation spotlights the volunteer efforts of central Minnesotans who are doing their part to make the region a better place to live.
One of primary ideas behind the foundation is to keep outstate communities economically vital and to offer resources to help them cope with the expected population growth of more than 40 percent which is expected by 2030.
This area is lucky to have the resources of the Initiative Foundation working for it. Thinking regionally can benefit all central Minnesota communities and make the outstate vicinities a desirable place to live and work.
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