Grant Award from the Blandin Foundation!

We received notification on Friday (1/9/2015) from the Blandin Foundation that our application was selected for a Broadband Innovation Grant!  This grant rings in the new year with fresh opportunity to strengthen and advance both Big Stone Area Growth and the Ortonville EDA’s separate broadband initiatives and pulls them together for a stronger unified approach.

The Ortonville EDA’s broadband work started with the help of Blandin Foundation in 2010 when we were selected as part of Upper MN Valley RDC’s Demonstration Community program (see below for a Slideshare overview of the project).  Big Stone County also received assistance through this program in order to complete the GIS work – the Blandin Foundation’s funding made it possible for the public to access the GIS information on-line.

The Big Stone County Communities of Clinton, Graceville and Beardsley started their initiative in the Spring of 2013 with assistance provided through  the Minnesota Sustainable Tourism Assessment for Small Communities project conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and University of Minnesota Tourism Center.

With the funding provided through this Blandin Foundation grant, we will be able to provide our business community the opportunity to learn how to use and implement the social media tools that are available today.  We know that by having a greater number of businesses accessing the power of the internet, the County will enjoy greater visibility, economic diversity and prosperity. Through enhanced access and utilization of the internet our businesses will have more opportunities to connect with customers, and the County will receive a greater online presence, which will enhance marketing for tourism and the recruitment of businesses and residents. Our Community web portal,, will engage our residents while marketing our area’s assets. The use of local bloggers will provide a more diverse view of our County and its residents. More local people, events, and activities will be recognized and spotlighted. This will create a larger appreciation for our rich cultural, environmental and economic amenities and be a way to assist in drawing prospective residents and business owners to visit our County.

Our Project?  In summary, we plan to create a community web portal (, engage community bloggers to work together for a well rounded and up-to-date reflection of Big Stone County, utilize digital media such as WordPress (blog/website), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, uniformed County-wide QR Code signage initiative, and on-line curation tools.  We also plan to use the Social Media approach to educate and engage both Big Stone County businesses and residents.  Full detail plans will be posted soon!

We are looking for Community Bloggers to join our team!  — details (and pay) will be posted soon.