In 1969, the Minnesota State legislature passed the Regional Development Act (Minn. Stat. § 462.381 to 462.398) to encourage cooperation among local units of government. Local leaders in southwest Minnesota, recognizing the opportunities provided by the Act, formed the Southwest Regional Development Commission in 1973 to carry on the business of urban and rural planning and development in all of its ramifications and branches and to render professional and technical services in conjunction therewith. Planning and land use continue to be core areas of development for the SRDC.
The SRDC was designated as an Area Agency on Aging in 1977 and began offering services to the elderly. Aging services remain a mainstay of the agency’s programming. In 2016 the Aging Program moved to MN River Area Agency on Aging.
Transportation has also been a mainstay service at the SRDC since the beginning. SRDC provides contracted services to MnDOT Districts 7 & 8, including the Area Transportation Partnerships, Enhancements, Transit and Trails planning. The Commission Transportation Committee also provides local opportunities for review of transportation policy and needs.
The next major change came in 1983 with the SRDC being designated as an affiliate to the Minnesota Census Data Center network. This began an ongoing relationship with the State Demographer’s Office and the U.S. Census Bureau. During the recent 2010 Census, the SRDC acted as a regional Census Complete Count Committee.
In 1984, Prairieland Economic Development Corporation, www.prairielandedc.com, 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.
The SRDC was officially designated as an Economic Development District by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) in 1985. This designation qualifies the SRDC to access various EDA programs, including the planning grant program, technical assistance program and infrastructure program. The SRDC received approval of its most recent three year planning grant application in 2010.
Four agencies joined forces in 1992 to create the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, www.swmhp.org. Those agencies included three Community Action Agencies; the Southwest Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) in Worthington, Western Community Action (WCA) in Marshall, and Prairie Five Community Action Council in Montevideo as well as the SRDC. The Housing Partnership was created to address the need for affordable housing throughout the greater southwest region, and continues in that capacity while expanding its services throughout southern Minnesota. The SRDC Executive Director and one SRDC Board member serve as members of the Board of Directors of the Housing Partnership.
As a service to local units of government in the region, the SRDC became involved in environmental planning efforts in the 1980s. In 1993, the Southwest Solid Waste Task Force became a formal joint powers entity, the Southwest Regional Solid Waste Commission. Then, as now, the SRDC provides staff support to the Commission.
In 1995, as a result of the 1993 flooding and Federal Disaster Declaration, the SRDC received $1,000,000 from EDA to establish a Disaster Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). This was matched with funding from the State of Minnesota, the Southwest Initiative Fund, local counties and the SRDC. The RLF has now revolved over five times and continues to provide much needed gap financing for area businesses.
The SRDC, the Housing Partnership and Prairieland moved into the new Center for Regional Development (CRD) in Slayton in 1996. Designed to be a one stop shop for regional development needs, the building at 2401 Broadway continues to house the SRDC and the Housing Partnership, with Prairieland spinning off and moving into their own building next door to the CRD in 1999.
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 through the Senior LinkAge Line throughout those counties beginning in the fall of 2003, with the official establishment of the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc. (MNRAAA) joint powers board in 2004. In 2016 the MN River Area Agency on Aging became its own entity.
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) www.rmeb.org, a sixteen county joint powers board dealing with renewable energy issues throughout southern Minnesota.
2006 brought an expansion of the CRD to accommodate the growth of the Housing Partnership. There are now fifteen employees of the SRDC and twenty employees of the Partnership housed in the CRD and we continue to provide a wide range of development services to local communities, businesses, and units of government throughout the region.