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Center Seeks Ideas for Grant
Wednesday, June 28 event in Centennial Student Union is opportunity to share ideas for local projects.
Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 6-25-2017
MANKATO — The Minnesota State University, Mankato Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship opened its doors last month and its leader is bursting with ideas.
The new center’s mission is to “facilitate the launch of the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and dynamic organizations through education, outreach and research.”
On Wednesday the center is holding a community meeting with two goals, according to Yvonne Cariveau, director of the center.
After a free dinner, attendees will be asked to share their impressions on what the Mankato region already is doing well to support new and prospective businesses. They’ll also be asked to share ideas for projects to improve the climate for local entrepreneurs.
Attendees will select a few ideas as finalists to receive $20,000 in matching grant funding from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
Planning teams will be formed to develop detailed proposals to a citizen committee in the fall. The committee will decide which proposal or proposals to award funds. The committee, which Cariveau said is comprised of volunteers from diverse backgrounds, could decide to give all $20,000 to a single project or divide it to support multiple ideas.
Ideas that Cariveau has heard will be pitched Wednesday include a suggestion for helping alleviate a shortage of child care providers, and equipment for a Mankato makerspace.
The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation provides a community with a $20,000 matching grant each year to support economic development. Foundation Vice President of Economic Development Pam Bishop leads a community gathering to assess and brainstorm ideas that lead to a community development project or two.
Last year’s beneficiary was St. James. The participants decided to invest in two projects, according to foundation Communications Coordinator Kallie Rollenhagen: installing electronic signs to entice passersby to stop in their city and transforming utility boxes into works of art.
Two years ago Albert Lea used the grant to build a dog park and install benches with artwork painted on them.
Center almost complete
The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is “98 percent set up” in its donated space in the former Hubbard/Ridley office building on North Riverfront Drive, Cariveau said.
The center has tools including meeting rooms, a video recording studio, a 3D printer and soon a 3D scanner. The resources aren’t reserved only for Minnesota State Mankato students; they’re also available by appointment to community organizations and business startups.
“It’s not just for business majors,” Cariveau said. “I want artists, musicians, automotive technicians and others in here. It’s a place for action-oriented problem solvers.”
The center is hosting meetings of a SCORE business mentoring group and the Mankato Makers group. When Minnesota State Mankato students return in August, the center also will host an entrepreneurship class taught by Cariveau and the student entrepreneur club.
The center’s first community education program is monthly breakfasts providing social media marketing tips. On July 14 the owner of Salvage Sisters will share some of her secrets to building an online following. On Aug. 11 Cariveau will advise about using Google Analytics to measure online engagement.
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