Author Archives: Vicki Oakes

20 Facebook Post Ideas for Small Business

The Southwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center recommended an excellent article – 20 Facebook Post Ideas Your Small Business Fans Will “Like” – on their Facebook page today that we thought we’d pass along!

A few other articles may interest you on this same site – 

Snapchat  – If you use Snapchat to market your small business, you can either post content to your story, where anyone who follows can see it, or you can communicate with people individually.  But now there’s a new option for businesses to consider.  Snapchat unveils custom Stories check it out at this link!

Facebook Live With:  Now you can Invite a Friend on Your Livestreaming Adventure.  Business Uses for Facebook Live With –  Live With lets you post messages to the entire group or private notes to an individual; giving you the ability to privately share a message within the live stream – and more… with a link for Live With Tutorial – for adding members and collaborating right away!  More information link!



First County Connect Meeting

Blue Logo

Our Call to Action:  If there are people looking to move to rural areas of Minnesota (as identified through the University of Minnesota Morris’ Rewriting the Rural Narrative research, how do we let them know what a great option Big Stone County would be?

Please join us on March 28, 2016
at 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Clinton Memorial Building

Agenda (PDF) 2016-03-28 Invite and Agenda

More Info on BSC County Connect



BSAG Annual Meeting 2016

Rural Opportunity logo

This is your call to action!

Population projections for 2010 to 2025 show that Big Stone County is 1 of only 9 counties projected to lose population during that time frame.  How can we change that?

Big Stone Area Growth is sponsoring Presenter Kelly Asche, Program Coordinator for the University of Minnesota Morris – Center for Small Towns

Monday, March 7, 2016, at 7:00 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Building, Main Street Clinton

Link to PDF Flyer:  Invitation BSAG Kelly Asche

Kelly Asche-1

Local Digital Media Presentations

At the 2015 Annual Big Stone Area Growth Meeting, we asked three local businesses to given a presentation on how their business is utilizing digital media tools.  Very interesting  presentations!

First, we have Jeremy of Pro Image Partners who talks about their relatively new on-line store.  Jeremy talks about their first year – and even though their first year did not provide immediate returns – he shares how it has expanded and continues to grow.  Dan Kafka (owner of Pro Image Partners along with Brenda Kafka) is known for his constant review of the latest technology and gadgets – he is always looking for a new way to reach and serve their customers!
Check out their website:

Next, we have Artie Arndt of Artie’s Bait and Tackle who talks about their very successful use of Facebook (he also uses WordPress as his website).  Artie’s Bait and Tackle has been quite the marketing machine for Big Stone Lake!
Check out their Facebook Page

Next, we have Rachel of The Furniture Shoppe in Ortonville.  The Furniture Shoppe is a very recent Facebook user and is working on their WordPress Website.  Rachel attends the Social Media Lunches which are held every month.  (the lunch and learn is free to business – RSVP needed – and a new digital media tool is presented every month – for more info click here).  It was great to hear the impact that their business has had since going online – Thanks Rachel!
Check out their Facebook Page

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.


The group that came together to meet with Sen Matt Schmit in Ortonville in December of 2013 during the Senator’s broadband listening tour has decided to continue meeting and work together to improve broadband services in Big Stone County and extended area. Big Stone Area Growth will facilitate the continued meetings as the group organizes and researches options and next steps to bring affordable broadband throughout the area.

The group moving this initiative forward has representation from our medical facilities, schools, county government, city government and area businesses.

Thanks to Terry Ocana, BigStone County IT Director, for taking the leadership role on the Broadband State grant opportunity

The Draft County Broadband Workgroup Mission, Goals & Structure – 
BSC Broadband Expansion Workgroup

September 30, 2014 – Proposed Project
The MN Office of Broadband Development (OBD) under the MN Department of Employemnt and Economic Development (DEED) has released applications offering up to $5 million per project with a 1:1 dollar match for rural broadband expansions.  The applications are due no later than October 28, 2014.

The Big Stone County Commissioners took action to apply for the Broadband Proposed Project.
BSAG send out request for support:  Broadband Opportunity Req for Support Letter

An application was submitted (with letters of support from throughout the County) by Big Stone County.  The State received 40 grant applications for this program and we are awaiting the grant award announcement – no estimated date has been released.

more info

The Wolf House – Spotlight Video

Business Spotlight segment from the Big Stone Area Growth (BSAG) Annual Meeting which was held on May 5, 2014.

Peggy Newman provided an overview of The Wolf House (lodging located downtown Graceville). BSAG assisted with the project through funding that was obtained through a USDA Rural Development Grant which established a revolving loan fund for projects in Big Stone County. – Spotlight Video

Becky Stattelman provided a little insight into her blog at BSAG’s annual meeting on May 5th.

Her blog highlights rural Minnesota Living and has been receiving regular readers from all over! (which provides great advertising for Big Stone County!) She also sells beautiful handmade cards, tote bags & more with her photos.

If you are a business or organization that would like to discuss starting a website or blog, call Big Stone Area Growth’s offfice at 320-839-6155!

Kaercher Publications – Spotlight Video

Business Spotlight segment from the Big Stone Area Growth (BSAG) Annual Meeting which was held on May 5, 2014.

Phil and Sue Kaercher-Blake provided an overview of their business and the assistance provided by BSAG with funds obtained through a USDA Rural Development Grant which established a revolving loan fund for projects in Big Stone County.