West Central Blogger

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A helping hand for Minnesota fathers

For the last couple of years, the Minnesota Fathers and Families Network has been helping dads "help themselves, their kids and their communities." The network is already planning its Fall Fatherhood Seminar Series, which will be held throughout the state.

In west central Minnesota, the first seminar, "Counting and Serving Never Married Families," will be held Tuesday, October 23, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the Family Service Center, Meeting Room 4, 715 11th Street North, Moorhead.
It's particularly for professionals who are interested in promoting healthy fatherhood among never-married parents. Check out the mnfathers.org Web site, or email for more information.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ready to transform your community?

Are you part of a group of citizens in your community itching to make a real difference to the future of your town or region? Then the CASE Foundation is looking for you.

CASE's Make It Your Own AwardsTM program is offering $10,000 to $35,000 grants for "individuals, and individuals working with small organizations and groups, who join together to imagine and implement innovative ideas and solutions that lay the groundwork for long-term social change."
This grant program is open to people in all 50 states. How great would it be to have several groups applying from west central Minnesota?

Go to the Make It Your Own Web site to learn more, read stories about past recipients, and to apply.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Funding available for local artists from the Minnesota State Arts Board

The Minnesota State Arts Board and the Lake Region Arts Council are inviting local artists to an informational session on August 9, from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Lake Region Arts Council offices at 133 S. Mill St., Fergus Falls, MN. Individual Artist grants that will be featured are the Cultural Community Partnership (grant range: $1,000 - $5,000) and Artist Initiative (grant range: $2,000 - $6,000).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Seminar hopes to help people recognize/reduce stress in war veterans

The media has been filled with the news and images of troops from west central Minnesota returning home after as much as two years at war. While the mood now is celebratory, organizations like the Western Area City County Cooperative (WACCO) are preparing for the time when the combat/operational stress these veterans have experienced while overseas may affect their re-entry into civilian life.

WACCO, in partnership with area cities and counties, is sponsoring several seminars around the region, entitled "First Responder Training: Combat/Operational Stress Reactions in Afghanistan/Iraq War Veterans."

While designed for police and fire departments, EMT professionals, community workers and other service providers, it's the kind of training that others in contact with returning veterans might appreciate, such as employers, family members and clergy.

For locations, dates and times of these free seminars, visit WCI's online events calendar.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Request for Proposals: Rural Wind Energy Development Assistance Program

The Center for Rural Policy and Development is seeking qualified organizational applicants to establish and administer Minnesota’s new Rural Wind Energy Development Assistance Program.

Established by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2007, the program is designed to provide technical assistance to rural entities, both public and private, that wish to develop wind energy electric generation projects for the purpose of selling the energy to an electric utility through a power purchasing agreement.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Introducing: West Central News

When the West Central Initiative Board wanted an online "one-stop shop" for regional economic information, West Central News was born.

The Web site:
  • highlights regional economic development articles from area newspapers.

  • automatically pulls new content from local online newspapers and radio Web pages.

  • includes lists of links to regional economic indicators and data.

  • has links to helpful financial calculators that compute the cost of commuting and cost of living in Minnesota.

West Central News is always being updated and refined, so check back often. And let us know if there's something you think would be great to add. We're always looking for ideas!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The important work of rural community colleges

The July 2007 issue of the Center for Rural Affairs newsletter includes the results of a study that determined three major benefits community colleges offer their communities:
  1. They bring a diverse workforce.
  2. They are hubs of activity that transcend social class stratification.

  3. They are tools for keeping the rural labor force up to date and grounded in rural America.

Read the entire article.

Art and culture mean big business for small rural communities

The same Center for Rural Affairs newsletter also cited a study that showed that art and cultural events not only enhance rural living, they bring visitors who spend about twice as much as the locals.

The study found that arts-based communities have seen revenue skyrocket over 24 percent from 2000 to 2005. One reason is patrons spend more than just the price of an event ticket or admission price.

The study estimated that, on average, events attracted 61 percent local attendees and 39 percent from outside the community. It showed that while the average local attendee spends $19.53 per person on the events, those from outside the area spend around $40.19.

Finally, the study also showed the arts do not flourish at the expense of local economic development. Creating an environment that holds the arts and culture at a premium becomes a major economic force by enhancing the livability of the area.

Read the entire article.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The care and feeding of new businesses

Sound, practical information and advice is important to creating and growing new businesses.

WCI and the Alexandria Technical College Small Business Center have formed a partnership that helps get support to those who need it. WCI provides scholarship funding that small business owners and managers can use toward the cost of the center's programming in day-to-day management.

This past year 27 businesses received expert business assistance through a scholarship that came from WCI.

One of the center's most popular and intensive offerings is Entrepreneur Boot Camp. The two-day course takes new business owners and those considering starting one through rigorous training that covers everything from financing, insurance and accounting to e-commerce, sales basics, marketing and much more. The Boot Camp is co-sponsored by the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission.

To learn more about the Entrepreneur Boot Camp and other information about the Small Business Center, contact Director Brad Barth or visit the center's Web site.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Shell game

You know it's the day before a holiday when the big excitement is a large snapping turtle that decides to hang out underneath the cars in the WCI parking lot. After the first car managed to pull out leaving the turtle intact, the turtle would head for the next car, and each subsequent one, as WCI staff scrambled to move vehicles from the reptile's path. Finally, with no more cars in the lot and no more shade, the disgruntled turtle made toward the tall grass nearby.

A view--and a lesson--from Wayne's window

Here's proof that you can find beauty wherever you are.

Walk by Planning Director Wayne Hurley's office, and you'll first notice his view of the dentist office next door and its parking lot. But go up to the window and look in the opposite direction and this gorgeous scene is revealed.

It's a wonderful visual example of the importance of finding a new perspective when the old one is getting ugly and stale.