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GreenStep City Best Practices Resilient Economic & Community Development

Green Business Development
no. 25

Expand a greener, more resilient business sector.
  Best Practice Action 1      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ]       [all actions]

Grow new/emerging green businesses and green jobs through targeted assistance and new workforce development.

  • See, for example, the financial assistance program Minneapolis conducted to remove all perc-based (toxic chemical) dry cleaning machines at private businesses.
  • Minnesota Main Street, a program of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, provides participating local Main Street organizations with the training, tools, information, and networking they need to be successful in their downtown revitalization efforts with businesses.
  • Made in Place: Small-Scale Manufacturing & Neighborhood Revitalization (Smart Growth America: 2017) presents the opportunity of small-scale manufacturing to grow local entrepreneurship and to revitalize downtowns and business districts. Small-scale manufacturers include breweries, furniture makers, textiles, local food production, 3D printing. By integrating manufacturing businesses into downtowns and other existing neighborhoods instead of locating them in industrial parks or standalone facilities, communities can build the character, appeal, property tax benefits and success of walkable neighborhoods.
  • The Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Nebraska promotes the business development approach called economic gardening that aims to add one new job to each of 50 existing businesses rather than luring one new business with 50 jobs to relocate in town. In a related effort, the Project for Lean Urbanism is working with cities including St. Paul to create official Pink Zones in disinvested neighborhoods. A Pink Zone will have its own protocols generally involving a combination of streamlining regulations and coordinating efforts of property owners and residents so as to accelerate small-scale projects. See also USDA Rural Development Rural Business & Cooperative Programs.
  • Business retention and expansion strategies and assistance from the Univ. of MN Extension Center for Community Vitality, whose goal is to build local leadership and social capital in support of local economies.
  • The MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development's Manufacturers Supply Chain Database makes it easy for Minnesota manufacturers to find - and be found by - local and Minnesota-based suppliers. City economic development staff can promote keeping dollars in the state as they work with their businesses to keep purchasing and sales as local as possible.
  • See green industry, career and job links from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. For detail on one fast growing Minnesota job sector, see Minnesota’s Clean Energy Economy Profile (MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development: 2014) for the state's most comprehensive quantification of the direct employment and wages of clean energy businesses.
  • See, for example, Staying Green and Growing Jobs: Green Infrastructure Operations and Maintenance as Career Pathway Stepping Stones (Green for All: 2013).
Provide incentives such as targeted loans, grants, streamlined permitting processes; participate in coordinated marketing and business assistance efforts, or provide similar support; actively support women- and minority-owned businesses.
Provide or link businesses to incubator space, local/MN suppliers, or other tangible assests.
Utilize an economic gardening approach; support the creation of co-operatively owned businesses (report retail food co-ops under action 27.4); develop workforce training opportunities with community colleges and job training centers to credential, for example, energy auditors.

Albert Lea

Date action report first entered:   08/26/2016
Date of last report update:   08/26/2016

Implementation details:
Riverland Community College offers a solar installer certification and a wind turbine technician degree at its Albert Lea campus. These programs provide new workforce development for local green industry.

Descriptive links: http://www.riverland.edu/academics/programs/solar-installer-cert/description/

For more information contact:
Jerry Gabrielatos (City staff)   |   jgabrielatos@ci.albertlea.mn.us   |   507-377-4316

View All Albert Lea Actions


Date action report first entered:   10/20/2015
Date of last report update:   10/20/2015

Implementation details:
The City has provided a location for the La Surena Cooperative, an LEDC sponsored project. La Surena assists immgrows organic produce, which is sold both locally and in the Twin Cities. LEDC has become active with Vision 2020 and the City of Austin. As part of building these connections, LEDC has opened a regional office in Austin, the first such office in Greater Minnesota and is also developing a local advisory committee. Austin was initially approached by LEDC to assist in the effort to find a location. The coop members live in Austin and it is convenient to be located close to the produce to minimize transportation issues. This is an area of interest to the community and seems to fit well in Austin with our Grow Mower campaign. We hope to expand on this work.

Descriptive links: http://www.kaaltv.com/article/stories/s3895829.shtml             view file

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

La Surena

View All Austin Actions

Grand Marais

Date action report first entered:   11/04/2015
Date of last report update:   11/04/2015

Implementation details:
Northhome Folk School is located partially on City property. The Folk School is a green non-profit business doing education and training on low-impact and traditional, local-resource-based, trades and skills. The Northhome School supports a variety of entrepreneurs in the community and the use of local resources.

Descriptive links: http://www.northhouse.org/

For more information contact:
Shane Steele (Contractor)   |   shane.w.steele@gmail.com   |   507-884-5790

View All Grand Marais Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/11/2016
Date of last report update:   02/11/2016

Implementation details:
Ever Cat Fuels LLC is a production and research facility that uses a variety of feedstocks to create renewable biodiesel. The City recruited this company. The company uses its patented McGyan process which results in efficiencies and environmentally friendly byproducts. The City of Isanti entered into a development agreement with Ever Cat Fuels LLC on October 17, 2007. The Development Agreement required the commitment of Ever Cat Fuels to construct a 9,000 square foot facility and to create 12 Jobs with wages of at least $15.00/ hour within two years. The City of Isanti incentive was two-fold consisting of the value of the land contribution ($299,050.14) and securing a Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) loan ($194,000) to assist with the capital investment. The feedstocks sources vary from local grease traps and waste cooking oils to seed crops.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Ever Cat Fuels constructed the 9,000 square foot production and research facility and it is currently manufacturing renewable biodiesel. The company currently employs 20 people with wages in excess of 15.00/ hr. and has satisfied the requirements of the Development Agreement. The project investment in Isanti was over 6 Million Dollars.

Descriptive links: http://www.cityofisanti.us/economic-development/business-list/manufacturing/ever-cat-fuels

For more information contact:
Josi Wood (City staff)   |   jwood@cityofisanti.us   |   763-444-5512

State of Minnesota (MIF Loan), Initiative Foundation (Grant)

View All Isanti Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/23/2013
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
On June 21, 2011, the City approved a loan to St. John's Hospital for building improvements. The loan is part of a wider St. Paul Port Authority (SPPA) program called the Trillion BTU program. The program hopes to save one trillion BTUs of energy by providing large businesses with loans for energy efficiency improvements to their facilities. The $400,000 loan came from the City's general fund and the Economic Development Authority (EDA). The St. Paul Port Authority matched the $400,000 loan and X-Cel energy provided the final $75,000 in funding as a rebate. St. John's Hospital is expected to repay the loan over a 5 to 10 year period. In 2009 the City provided the Maplewood Mall with a sub grant of $10,000 for 107 parking lot lighting retrofits. The sub grant helped create a new green job at the mall and has an estimated savings of 135,802 kWh's a year. Within the Partners in Energy, which the city of Maplewood is involved in with Xcel Energy, there are grants available for businesses to receive recommissioning studies. These recommissioning studies will receive a rebate from Xcel energy. This rebate will then be used to help implement changes within the businesses. This program will also help businesses receive information about other sustainability programs like stormwater, and waste prevention.

Descriptive links: http://www.ci.maplewood.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=664

For more information contact:
Michael Martin (City staff)   |   michael.martin@maplewoodmn.gov   |   651-249-2303

Saint Paul Port Authority, Xcel Energy

View All Maplewood Actions

Mountain Iron

Date action report first entered:   06/25/2012

Implementation details:
The City of Mountain Iron has developed a Renewal and Sustainable Energy Park strictly for the clustering and development of green companies that specialize in renewable energy.

Outcome measures/metrics:
Current tenant is a Solar company.

For more information contact:
Craig Wainio (City staff)   |   cwainio@ci.mountain-iron.mn.us   |   218-748-7570

IRRRB; DEED; Silicon Energy

View All Mountain Iron Actions

Belle Plaine

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2018
Date of last report update:   04/16/2018
Year action initially completed:   2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
The City of Belle Plaine has links on its webpage to business assistance provided by Xcel Energy and MVEC (Minnesota Valley Electric Co-Op) both of which are energy providers within the City. Programs are designed to conserve energy and save operational costs. Information and programming includes rebates, energy audits & studies, and advice on energy efficient new/improved facilities. In addition the City has a link to the Minnesota Retiree Environmental Technical Assistance Program (RECAP).

Descriptive links: http://www.belleplainemn.com/economic-development-financing-tools-and-incentives

For more information contact:
Laura Blue (City staff)   |   lblue@ci.belleplaine.mn.us   |   952-873-5553

View All Belle Plaine Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2015
Date of last report update:   05/01/2015

Implementation details:
#25 - action steps 1, 6, and 7: Provided assistance to Harmony energy audit, solar awning and EnergyStar certification. Harmony participates in "buy local" campaigns.Wrote CERTS grant proposal, met with Harmony sustainability committee, assisted in implementation, did solar site assessment and awning design, etc.Installed solar awning; obtained EPA EnergyStar certification; conducted RE business forum, participated in sustainable places and MRES tours, Pioneer article. Ongoing - started Jan 2014 and continuing

For more information contact:
Diana Kuklinski (Community volunteer)   |   dianamk50@gmail.com   |   218-760-1557

Colleen Bakken and Christine Szama,of Harmony Food Co-op, Erika BJ of Bemidji State University, CERTS, RREAL

View All Bemidji Actions


Date action report first entered:   06/06/2012

Implementation details:
Burnsville provides energy and waste reduction awareness and assistance to local businesses through the ARROW program: Awards for Reduction and Recycling of Waste. ARROW is a free, voluntary program for businesses in Eagan, Apple Valley and Burnsville, and is implemented by Dakota Valley Recycling. ARROW gives awards to businesses for their recycling and reduction of waste. Every year in the local newspaper, This Week, green business participants of the ARROW program are highlighted. The City links businesses to incubator space or other tangible assets by listing Site and Building Locations and Available Property/Space on the Burnsville's website. The City Economic Development Coordinator maintains a contact list of businesses and industrial building owners; these contacts receive notifications of potential space availability. Burnsville supports targeted workforce training opportunities with community colleges (Inver Hills Community College, Normandale Community College), univerisities Concordia University, University of St. Thomas, St. Mary's University, and the National American University), Dunwoody Technical College, and the Workforce Center. Through all of these partnerships, customized training and credit courses are provided.

For more information contact:
Sue Bast (City staff)   |   basts@ci.burnsville.mn.us   |   952-895-4524

View All Burnsville Actions


Date action report first entered:   08/21/2015
Date of last report update:   08/21/2015

Implementation details:
The City is working with a new business, Oliver's Canoe Outfitters, to improve current access points and provide additional access points outside and within city limits. Assisting the business in this way will help the outfitter to expand business as well as create easier access to the river.

Descriptive links: https://www.facebook.com/oliverscanoes

For more information contact:
DeAndra Navratil (City staff)   |   oconn587@Umn.edu   |   701-330-5226

View All Crookston Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   11/25/2010

Implementation details:
Cymbet developed a thin-film battery that is infinitely rechargeable and also can be used in solar systems. The Elk River economic development division offered the company low cost business financing to assist in the development of new technology, product research, and building construction

Outcome measures/metrics:
Today, Cymbet still operates out of Elk River and is a terrific success.

Descriptive links: http://www.wapa.gov/es/pubs/esb/2006/aug/ESB Aug 06.pdf

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions

Lake Crystal

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2014

Implementation details:
On April 15, 2014 the Lake Crystal Economic Development Authority (EDA)passed an amendment to their current loan program to include specific 0% interest loans for energy efficiency improvements.

            view file

For more information contact:
Taylor Gronau (City staff)   |   lccity@hickorytech.net   |   507-726-2538

Lake Crystal EDA

View All Lake Crystal Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/30/2014

Implementation details:
Mankato offers a commercial rehabilitation program, which includes options for improvements for energy-efficieny. Projects are often in older, historic areas where outdated mechanical equipment in the businesses is common.

Descriptive links: http://www.mankato-mn.gov/upload/contents/368/Commercial%20Guidelines.pdf

For more information contact:
Molly Westman (City staff)   |   mwestman@mankatomn.gov   |   507-387-8571

View All Mankato Actions


Date action report first entered:   02/03/2015
Date of last report update:   04/30/2015

Implementation details:
The Greater Northfield Sustainability Collaborative has a mission statement that includes facilitating initiatives related to green business and jobs. Their mission statement includes the quote,"Our goal is to facilitate and coordinate sustainability initiatives in the greater Northfield area and support the City’s efforts to implement the GreenStep Cities program."

Outcome measures/metrics:
City staff currently meets with the GNSC to discuss initiatives they have facilitated. The GNSC also markets these activities on their website as they occur. Also, the GNSC has been instrumental in facilitating the implementation of the Northfield Community Solar program. (http://mncommunitysolar.com/northfield) This program is slated to start with a 1 mega-watt garden. This facilitation directly supports new and emerging green businesses and green jobs.

Descriptive links: http://northfieldsustainability.org/about/             view file

For more information contact:
Beth Kallestad (City staff)   |   beth.kallestad@ci.northfield.mn.us   |   507-645-3074

Greater Northfield Sustainability Collaborative

View All Northfield Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/18/2018
Date of last report update:   01/18/2018
Year action initially completed:   2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
The City has listed the RETAP program as an Economic Development resource on its website that provides a link to the RETAP website.

Descriptive links: Green business assistance             view file

For more information contact:
Neil Soltis (City staff)   |   n.soltis@ci.scandia.mn.us   |   651-433-2274

View All Scandia Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/01/2013

Implementation details:
Shoreview has and will continue to provide city assistance for projects that incorporate green/sustainable methods into development plans.

Descriptive links: http://www.shoreviewmn.gov/business/business-management-and-financial-assistant

For more information contact:
Ellen Brenna (City staff)   |   ebrenna@shoreviewmn.gov   |   651-490-4665

View All Shoreview Actions

White Bear Lake pending

Date action report first entered:   10/31/2013

Implementation details:
Business assistance efforts: In 2009, the City, in collaboration with the Food Service Energy Leadership Program (housed at Eureka Recycling), applied and received a competitively selected Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) through the Department of Energy and administered by the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources. This grant, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), allowed the city to provide technical assistance for energy efficiency among its restaurant community. The program worked with 20 restaurants in the White Bear Lake area over a two year period. An initial energy assessment was completed by the technical team and a report produced with identified opportunities (focusing mostly on low-cost options). Throughout the course of two years of collaboration with these businesses, energy use was tracked and reported back to the businesses on a six month basis, and assistance was offered with larger retrofit projects, such as an HVAC unit replacement, a new ice machine purchase, or a retrofit on the exhaust hood. Over the two year period, the average energy savings in participating restaurants was 5.8 percent. These savings varied greatly depending on length of time in the program and ability to commit time, attention and money to making improvements. In 2013, the City partnered with the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce to help promote and host two seminars for businesses to divert waste from landfills while saving money on their trash bills. The seminars are led by Minnesota WasteWise, and businesses are given an opportunity to schedule a private visit by Minnesota WasteWise to analyze their waste streams and receive recommendations on how they can divert waste, properly dispose of problem materials, and save money. Minnesota WasteWise holds a contract with Ramsey County and will provide free waste consulting for any business within the county. The City is currently partnering with CLASS 5 Energy on an energy reduction pilot program via a state-funded grant. Phase two of the pilot was for Class 5 to partner with businesses in the community of White Bear Lake to explore appropriate strategies for use in different types of business settings. The City sent a letter out to White Bear Area Chamber businesses inviting them to attend a meeting at City Hall to learn more about how they could reducing their energy use and costs through participating in the pilot. To date, eight local businesses are participating in the pilot with Class 5.

For more information contact:
Connie Taillon (City staff)   |   ctaillon@whitebearlake.org   |   651-429-8564

Food Service Energy Leadership Program (housed at Eureka Recycling); Minnesota Division of Energy Resources; Minnesota WasteWise; Class 5 Energy

View All White Bear Lake Actions

Red Wing pending

Date action report first entered:   06/06/2011

Implementation details:
As an earth day activity the sustainablity commission sponsored a local foods film festival offering documentary films such as King Corn, Fresh, Food Inc. Films were offered free of charge at local natural food store "Simple Abundance" and at the River Bend Food Co-op Market

For more information contact:
Paul Drotos (City staff)   |   paul.drotos@ci.red-wing.mn.us   |   651-410-6744

View All Red Wing Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Angie Bourdaghs, Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2176, angela.bourdaghs@state.mn.us, http://www.pca.state.mn.us/sbeap