The Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) was organized by local leaders as authorized by the Minnesota Regional Development Act of 1969 (Minn. Stat. § 462.381 to 462.398). The Minnesota State Legislature passed the Act to encourage cooperation among local units of government. Local leaders recognized the opportunities and formed the SRDC for the purpose of working with and on behalf of local units of government to develop plans and implement programs to address economic, social, physical and governmental concerns. The SRDC’s mission is to provide professional expertise and leadership to enhance regional opportunity.
The first office opened and first staff were hired.
SRDC was designated an Area Agency on Aging and began offering services to the elderly. In 2002, the Minnesota Board on Aging (MBA) set new criteria for the establishment of Area Agencies on Aging, setting the southwest Planning and Service Area (PSA) as the twenty-seven counties of regions 6E, 6W, 8 and 9. This led to the SRDC providing services to the elderly though the Senior LinkAge Line throughout those counties. In 2004, the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc (MNRAAA) was officially established and in 2016, became its own entity.
SRDC was designated as an affiliate to the Minnesota Census Data Center network, beginning an ongoing relationship with the State Demographer’s Office and the U.S. Census Bureau. During the 2010 Census, the SRDC acted as a regional Census Complete Count Committee.
Prairieland Economic Development Corporation, then a subsidiary program of the SRDC, was officially designated as an SBA 503 Certified Development Corporation. The 503 program was developed to provide long term, reduced interest, fixed asset financing for the expansion of small business start-ups.
SRDC was officially designated as an Economic Development District by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA). This designation qualifies the SRDC to access various EDA programs, including the planning grant program, technical assistance program and infrastructure program.
SRDC joined forces with the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) in Worthington, Western Community Action (WCA) in Marshall, and Prairie Five Community Action Council in Montevideo to create the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership. The Housing Partnership was created to address the need for affordable housing throughout the greater southwest region. The Housing Partnership, continuing in this capacity, has expanded its services throughout Southern Minnesota.
SRDC became involved in environmental planning efforts as a service to local units of government beginning in the 1980s, forming the Solid Waste Task Force. In 1993, the Solid Waste Task Force became a formal joint powers entity, the Southwest Regional Solid Waste Commission. SRDC continues to provide staff support to the Commission.
As a result of the Federal Disaster Declaration from the 1993 flooding, SRDC received $1 million from USEDA to establish a Disaster Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). Matched with funding from the State of Minnesota, the Southwest Initiative Fund, local counties and the SRDC, the RLF provides much needed gap financing for area businesses. The RLF has now funded over 160 loans across the region with over $8 million loaned since its inception.
The SRDC, Housing Partnership and Prairieland moved into the Center for Regional Development in Slayton. Designed to be a one-stop-shop for regional development needs, the building at 2401 Broadway Avenue continues to house the SRDC and the Housing Partnership.
SRDC began working with the Minnesota Project, the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP), and the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) to implement a Clean Energy Resource Team (CERT) in Southwest Minnesota. CERTs are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. In 2007, CERT was written into state statute and covered the entire state. Core Partners include the RSDP, DOC, SRDC, and the Great Plains Institute. SRDC continues to coordinate the 12 counties of SW CERT.
Staff from the SRDC had been providing support to the SW Energy Task Force since its initial inception as the Ridge Counties Task Force in the 1990s. In 2005, the task force reinvented itself, becoming the Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB), a sixteen-county joint powers board dealing with renewable energy issues throughout Southern Minnesota. The RMEB has since expanded to 18 counties.
SRDC began assisting the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) with an administrative structure, and on January 1, 2008, became a member of the RSVP Joint Powers Board. RSVP changed its name in 2014 to A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota. SRDC continues to do finance and support work for A.C.E.
SRDC and the other Regional Development Commissions across Minnesota partnered in Blandin Foundation’s Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) project which aimed to extend higher-speed internet access, and to make better use of broadband connections. Broadband continues to be a core area of development for the SRDC.
The Rural Minnesota Energy Board (RMEB) began the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) pilot program, which assists commercial and industrial businesses with financing toward energy improvements which are paid back through a special assessment. The first PACE loan closed in August of 2014. PACE has now funded 24 loans across the RMEB region.
SRDC, along with the other Regional Development Organizations in Minnesota, acting as the Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO), completed the DevelopMN Plan, a statewide planning effort. DevelopMN creates a common framework for regional economic development and identifies strategies to address the special challenges and opportunities of Greater Minnesota.
SRDC continues to provide services for Economic, Community, and Physical Development, including planning in the areas of Land Use, Renewable Energy, Economic, Water, Hazard Mitigation, Healthy Communities, and Transportation, as well providing Administrative Services and Technical Assistance.