Community Development Initiatives continue for Adams area on May 31

Published 6:53 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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In February 2022, Adams area residents met to discover and activate community and economic development opportunities with a forum facilitated by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality. 

Four key areas of opportunity were identified: downtown revitalization, economic development, community recreation, and childcare. Multiple action teams were formed and have been in process since:

• Business Development: visited vacant downtown buildings, reached out to potential businesses.

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• Recreation: Identified need for programming and potential collaborations.

• Childcare: Meetings with Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) Childcare Consultant.

Area residents, Angie McDermott Himebaugh and Lynnette Offen Gerber, continued researching organizations for potential funding, additional resources, and new ideas: 

• Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) funding opportunities.

• Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities and affiliated resources.

• Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation Early Childhood Development.

• Department of Public Transformation Activate Rural Learning Lab.

“We have found an abundance of potential resources that can be leveraged to create greater community vitality. We want to ensure we have the strongest small town we are able to with every resource we can find,” Gerber said.

During conversations with SMIF, it was determined that the community would benefit from a community foundation. Multiple meetings were had and there was a Community Development Informational Meeting held in September 2022 with Tim Penny, president and CEO, and Alissa Oeltjenbruns, vice president of Philanthropy at SMIF. 

“The residents of the Adams area are generous with their time and resources. “We want area residents to keep their financial impact local,” Himebaugh said.

While working on these different areas of improvement in the community, it was discovered through SMIF that on average, people contribute 5% of their assets to charity or causes they care about. That is $23.2 million in charitable dollars by 2030 in just Mower County alone. 

SMIF asked the Adams area: what are we doing to make sure those passionate about your community are able to contribute? Now area residents have added a new initiative to what they already are working on: a community foundation to capture those local dollars. 

A community foundation is a nonprofit organization that exists to improve the future of an entire community. It does this through uniting people and resources to produce significant, widely shared and local lasting results. SMIF currently administers over 31 community foundations in the southern Minnesota area, of which they have granted out over $7 million to benefit the future of local communities. 

“I am eager to work with the area of Southland. Small towns know how to roll up their sleeves and work together to achieve successful outcomes,” SMIF Community Foundation Coordinator, Andi Arnold.

To begin the process, a meeting is planned for Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at the Fellowship Hall of Little Cedar Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. Anyone living, working, and/or going to school in the Adams area is welcome and encouraged to come.