top of page


Thief River Falls Named a Bicycle Friendly Community


The League of American Bicyclists has designated Thief River Falls as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the Bronze level. This award is presented only to communities with strong commitments to bicycling.

For more information, visit:

NWRDC Board Polaris.jpg

NWRDC Board Members visit Polaris Industries in Roseau in June 2022. The NWRDC board and staff members supports local businesses to maintain economic strength for the region.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $23 Million in CARES Act Funding to Capitalize Revolving Loan Funds to Help Small Businesses Across Minnesota Respond to Coronavirus

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $23 million in CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to capitalize and administer Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) that will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic across Minnesota.      


“President Trump is working diligently every day to support our nation’s economy following the impacts of COVID-19 through the CARES Act,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These investments will provide small businesses across Minnesota with the necessary capital to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and, in turn, create a stronger and more resilient state economy for the future.”


“These investments come at a crucial time to help Minnesota’s and our nation’s economy come roaring back and provide hard-working Americans with new opportunities,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities, and EDA is pleased to invest these CARES Act funds so that Minnesota businesses have access to capital to respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic.”


The EDA investments announced the Northwest Regional Development Commission, Warren, Minnesota, will receive a $3.4 million EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to capitalize and administer an RLF that will provide coronavirus-impacted businesses in Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk, and Norman counties with loans to help them respond to the pandemic.

A Cross-sector Collaboration to Connect Seniors to
Caregiving Resources Takes Flight in Perham

Otter Tail County Human Services employees, Perham Health staff, the Dancing Sky
Area Agency on Aging and community members looked at the challenges the community
faces with elder care. With a Silos To Circles grant, these stakeholders launched
“The Connection”.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield is recognizing this collaboration with a Trailblazer Award -
bringing leaders together to promote an integrated approach to health care delivery.


Cheryl Wiskow and Michelle Fischer, OTC, Long Term Care Social Workers are part of the
steering team for the Silos to Circles program in our area.

To learn more click here!

Homeland Security & Terrorism the Focus of 2018 for Emergency Operations Planning Program

The NWRDC continued its planning partnership with the Homeland Security & Emergency Management (HSEM) Region Three Joint Powers Board by providing planning services for the 14 counties located in Northwestern Minnesota.

With an ever-evolving work program combined with an active array of hazards present in Minnesota; it takes many individuals active in emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery in order to save lives, reduce property damage and decrease/eliminate future effects. Government, local agencies, volunteers, businesses and emergency response personnel all work together and lend efforts/resources to keep our communities safe.


The following points highlight a few of the successes that the Northwest Emergency Manager’s Joint Powers Board’s regional planning program has accomplished in 2018, thanks to a grant funding opportunity through Minnesota HSEM:

  • Whole Community Assessment

  • Critical Infrastructure Assessment

  • Regional CBRNE Teams Assessment

  • Information Sharing Portal

  • Canadian/Partner Integration Plan

  • Hostile Actions Playbook

  • Terrorism-based Regional Exercise

  • Governor’s Conference, AMEM and the
    Pigeon River International Cross-Border
    Conference Attendance

  • Senior Disaster Preparedness Presentation

  • Local and Regional Exercise Involvement

Regional Transportation Coordination Council (RTCC)

The NWRDC has contracted with MnDOT to administer a new transportation program that is aimed
at providing better transit services to the elderly, low-income, veterans, people with disabilities
and the general public in the region. The new position is with the Office of Transit and Active
Transportation and is called the Regional Transportation Coordination Council (RTCC). Region One
currently has two primary public transportation providers serving rural areas. Tri-Valley Bus serves
Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake, Polk and Norman counties and Paul Bunyan Transit serves
Roseau county. There is also providers in Fosston and East Grand Forks. Phase one is the planning
phase where a board will be created, by-laws established and public meetings held to discuss the
opportunities available with this new transit role. It will also evaluate goals and objectives identified in the 2016 Local Human Resources Transit Coordination Plans that the NWRDC completed. Phase two is the implementation phase where the goals and objectives that have been identified in the 2016 Local Transit Plan will be implemented. The board will be made up of a county commissioner and representatives from social services, veteran services, Tri-Valley Bus, Paul Bunyan Transit, Fosston City Transit and East Grand Forks Transit. Non-voting members include public riders, hospital administrators, private businesses and representatives from MnDOT, the Diverse Abilities Corporation, Occupational Development Center, Metropolitan Planning Organization, Area Agency on Aging and social services.

Warroad Branding & Economic Development

In 2018, we assisted community leaders with information and advice regarding the development of an
entrepreneurial base in downtown Warroad, as well as building upon community strengths in tourism and natural
resources. The effort includes business retention and expansion in the downtown area, attracting residents and
workers to the community and building upon existing assets to increase natural and man-made amenities to
improve the area.

Value-Added Producer Grants

The NWRDC was instrumental in writing applications to the Minnesota Department
of Agriculture for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG). The grant funds were used
toward the purchase of machinery and equipment at Vertical Malt in Crookston and
Soyko International in Gary. Vertical Malt is a vertically integrated custom malting
company that provides product for the craft brewing industry. Soyko International
is a minority-owned food processing business that provides foodgrade soybeans
for markets in Korea, Ukraine and worldwide. We also assisted 2 other edible
bean companies in the region with preparing VAPG applications in 2019.

Blandin Statewide Learning Cohort

NWRDC staff participated with the Blandin Foundation, RDOs and MN Extension to develop a peer learning experience for development professionals that educated them on best practices, new theories and program implementation. The peer learning cohort is exposed to a variety of methodologies that provide a standardized way of approaching economic and community development.

Community Development Staff Complete
18 month Housing Development Course

The course was offered from Minnesota Housing Partnership fostering peer
learning and best practices that encourage housing development in rural MN.
Each team was charged with creating a housing project that reflected local needs. “Team NW”
(Red Lake Falls, Crookston,East Grand Forks and Warren) chose single-family housing. Homark Homes
was contracted as the builder in order to achieve economies of scale. One home was built in Warren with
another slated for Crookston in Spring 2019.


Dancing Sky AAA Continues to Increase
Dementia Awareness

As the DSAAA continues to work at increasing dementia awareness, the need was
identified for a more comprehensive approach to community education and awareness.
The agency developed “EMS Responds: A Patient-Centered Approach to Emergency
Care of Dementia Patients.” This program partners with rural EMS and First Responder
programs to provide education to increase their knowledge and understanding of
dementia. The program allows EMS personnel to experience the Virtual Dementia
Tour®, spend time learning about dementia and how to see beyond it and focus
on the uniqueness of these patients.


As part of the goal to increase dementia awareness, the Dementia Friends Initiative continues
to provide participants knowledge on the disease and how individuals and communities can
help those with the disease. Because all family members are affected by a diagnosis of
dementia, “Grandpa and Lucy”, has been incorporated into the Dementia Friends Initiative.
Written by a ninth grader in St. Paul, the book helps youth learn about dementia. A high
school version of Dementia Friends has also been created to reach a younger generation.


During the past year, 993 people became Dementia Friends.

Return to Community Partners with Medication Therapy Management

Medication Therapy Management is an initiative, in which the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging, Consultant Pharmacies Inc. and the Minnesota Board on Aging have joined forces providing medication regimen reviews to people following a nursing home stay. Our Community Living Specialists (CLS) provide medication lists, history/physical and labs to the pharmacy consultants through secure software. Pharmacy consultants then provide recommendations, which the CLS deliver, with an explanation, to the consumer. A copy of the recommendations are also provided to their doctor.


The impact of this program has been far reaching and pharmacists presented this initiative at the National Conference of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. An evidence-based study in partnership with NDSU is another result of this initiative.


In 2018, CLS utilized Medication Therapy for 244 people.

Minnesota is now the Land of 10,000 Dementia Friends

Minnesota is more than the Land of 10,000 Lakes; it’s also the Land of 10,000 Dementia Friends! A year ago, ACT on Alzheimer’s set a goal to have 10,000 people become Dementia Friends by participating in information sessions and then turning what they learned into action in their communities.
The goal became reality when Kate Storhaug, program developer at the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging and a Dementia Friends Champion, hosted a January 9 session with 34 participants from the Otter Tail Service Providers networking group in Fergus Falls.
















Kate has delivered  Dementia Friends Information Sessions to over 300 people, including care providers, faith community members, county and city workers, hospital staff, police officers, and community members. Her efforts along with other Champions across the state made the 10,000 mark possible.

“It has become my passion,” said Kate. “Almost everyone has been impacted by dementia or knows someone who has, and yet most people still don’t know much about the disease. We can show them that people with dementia are people, too, and eliminate the fear factor.”

Patricia Samuelson, manager at Patriot Assisted Living in Fergus Falls, MN, was a participant at one of Kate’s sessions. She found so much value in what she learned that she has asked Kate to offer an information session at her facility. “The need to have compassionate and educated care providers is very important in this industry and I’m a huge advocate for giving people the tools, knowledge and skills to care for people with dementia,” Patricia said.

Join the Dementia Friends movement! If you are interested in attending a session or becoming a Champion, visit for more information.

Visioning for the Future of Aging
Programs and Services

The Dancing Sky AAA had the opportunity to participate in
a Theory of Change and Strategic Planning for our region.

The strategic plan represents a collective vision and road map for identifying
needs and prioritizing services that encourage rural older adults and 
communities to thrive. Our strategic planning process was developed by
the Minneapolis-based Aurora Consulting.

We believe that all older adults and caregivers are vital to the quality of
place in each of our rural communities. While vital, our aging population
must adapt to a never-changing world while facing challenging economic barriers. Because of this, we recognize how important it is for older adults 
to have access to services regardless of where they live and for each of us to be empowered to live and age healthier, no matter our age. 


We look forward to the future of aging services as we address the barriers between where we are and where we want to be. We will continue to work toward increasing our capacity and achieving a broader public awareness of our services. We resolve to strengthen and develop creative partnerships providing comprehensive services to older adults. We are committed to diligently working to instill the values of dignity, service
and collaboration while partnering with our communities and patrons.


In our region, we envision vibrant communities invested in their elders. We envision older adults and caregivers planning for the future. We envision that together, our communities and older adults thrive.

Healthy Living As You Age

Dementia Friends is a global movement that is changing the way people think, act and
talk about dementia! 


Developed by the Alzheimer’s Society, the goal of the Dementia Friends sessions is to
help community members understand dementia and learn small things they can do to
make a difference for people living with dementia.


Our Development staff were trained to facilitate Dementia Friends sessions in March
and since then have provided 26 sessions in 16 communities, resulting in 453 people
becoming Dementia Friends!


Another tool used to spread awareness and help create dementia-friendly communities
is the Virtual Dementia Tour. 


This groundbreaking, evidence-based method, uses sensory tools and instruction to
simulate the effects of dementia so people can personally experience the physical and
cognitive challenges. 


Service organizations such as Police and Fire Departments, EMS, Social Services,
faith-based communities and communities at-large have all benefited from this experience.


Our Development staff have also become trained to lead these tours and this past year
agencies such as Polk County Social Service, Lake of the Woods Providers, the
NWRDC and even MN Rep. Deb Kiel participated in Virtual Dementia Tours!

In 2017, the DSAAA supported over 34,913 older adults wanting to continue to live
at home in their community and the caregivers that support them.

This was accomplished across their 21 county service area of: Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Norman, Lake of the Woods, Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard,Mahnomen, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Traverse, Grant, Douglas, Stevens and Pope Counties.


Community Development: Providing Services, Building Capacity, Meeting Challenges

The NWRDC assists the region in achieving a diversified and resilient economy and in developing an attractive and compelling quality of life.

We participate in a variety of regional groups, committees and taskforces throughout the year. We also receive requests to assist communities when they are faced with unique situations, issues or challenges and are looking for expertise in dealing with state and federal regulations, understanding grant guidelines and liaison services with governmental partners.

In 2017, the NWRDC has made housing a signature priority as we have seen an increase in activities that address the workforce issues in the region. Expanding companies in the region recognize that employees they hire need to have adequate and available housing. In addition, workers want amenities that give them options including access to basic needs, quality childcare and schools, recreational opportunities, bike and walking-friendly streets, proximity to regional centers, access to business and entrepreneurial assistance and more!


We participated in a MN Housing Partnership program that provides hands-on learning experiences
for rural communities who need to bring housing development and other projects to their areas.
We also continue to play a partnership role in Impact 20/20, a group of NW MN leaders who
promote workforce development, education, broadband development and housing. These
partnerships have led to the creation of a Housing Action Network, which will share best
practices and look for ways to encourage housing diversity and availability in the region!

People who are starting out in life and raising a family, or those who are returning to the region to live and work, are making important life decisions regarding their community of choice. We are helping to build a regional brand that encourages forward-thinking and progressive rural attitudes so that residents know that infrastructure and people’s needs will be met and business growth is promoted through a responsive government. 

We are also celebrating the expansions of large multi-national companies in the region, such as Digi-Key, Polaris, Arctic Cat and Marvin Windows. We also want to recognize and support the significant risk and investments from smaller companies: Weave Got Maille, a jewelry manufacturer in Ada; Far North Spirits, a distillery in Hallock; and other small manufacturing, retail and service businesses that are broadening their footprint through an effective use of broadband and networking capacity.

Economic Development: Helping Others, Developing Capacity, 
Achieving Economic Diversity

Helping to make people’s ideas, dreams and hopes a reality is a fun and exciting part of the Economic Development field. We get to work with entrepreneurs and established enterprises who are starting new companies, expanding operations, creating innovative products, buying high tech equipment to improve efficiencies and providing unique niche items to the goods and services markets.  


This program encompasses two areas that are mutually beneficial in helping to promote and encourage development in the region. We work with entrepreneurs, businesses, communities and individuals to assist with project development and provide technical assistance to help build the capacity of the various participants to reach their ultimate goals. Additionally, the ability to access the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) of our non-profit NW Regional Enterprise Fund, Inc. (NWREF) allows us to make low interest loans and provide gap financing to assist with project completion. The NWREF loan committee and RLF staff have made loans to a variety of business sectors in order to encourage business growth and respond to area priorities as listed in our Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

As recognized in our CEDS priorities, NWRDC staff have made loans and provided business assistance to sectors as diverse as lumber yards, childcare centers, service stations, essential community services (grocery, car dealerships, restaurants, grain elevators and assisted living), food shippers and distributors, value-added food processors, manufacturers and many others. Helping to provide a diverse and flourishing economic sector is paramount
to a successful and resilient rural region! 


In 2017, we worked with area businesses and communities to provide grant applications for broadband development and wastewater pre-treatment for a local food processor. We also worked with two area counties to help put together a RLF and economic development arm for business development, as well as with regional and local communities and businesses to establish housing diversity through development programs.

Northwest Regional Enterprise Loan Fund:
2017: A Year in Review

The Northwest Regional Enterprise Loan Fund saw 5 different
companies pay loans in full for 2017. The Revolving Loan Fund (RLF)
thanks those companies for their relationship with the NWRDC and
wishes them the best in future endeavors!


New loan production saw an uptick for 2017. The RLF closed 7 loans in 2017 for $725,340
and committed 3 other loans for $262,500 that are set to close in the near future. The number
of inquiries in 2017 was strong in comparison to previous years. Due to several large payoffs 
in 2016 the program still has over $650,000 available to lend in 2018. 


In addition to opening new loans, other loan fund activities included loan restructuring, interest rate adjustments,
payoffs, loan assistance to community economic development agencies (EDAs) and technical assistance. 


We provided technical assistance in the form of information and referral to other organizations and agencies including but not limited to: Small Business Development Center, EDA University Center, Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Department of Employment and Economic Development, Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Northwest Minnesota Foundation and the IDEA Competition.

Emergency Operations Planning: We're Ten Years Old!

2018 marks approximately ten years since the Northwest Emergency Manager’s Joint Powers Board and the Northwest Regional Development Commission began partnering together to “Prepare Today For The Demands Of Tomorrow”.

With an ever-evolving work program combined with an active array of hazards present in Minnesota; it takes many individuals active in emergency preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery in order to save lives, reduce property damage and decrease/eliminate future effects. Government, local agencies, volunteers, businesses and emergency response personnel all work together and lend efforts/resources to keep our communities safe. The following points highlight a few of the successes that the Northwest Emergency Manager’s Joint Powers Board’s regional planning program has accomplished in 2017, thanks to a grant funding opportunity through Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM):   
•    Charging stations for portable technology
•    Local partnerships – NW Health Coalition, NW Regional Radio Board
•    Badge identification and credentialing
•    Manitoba/Minnesota Meeting
•    Regional Strategic Planning
•    Regional Response Team Planning
•    Homeland Security Information Network Planning
•    Philanthropy Planning with the NW Minnesota Foundation
•    IPAWS for portions of NW Minnesota
•    Governor’s Conference, AMEM and Under One Roof Attendance
        (including two associated exercise evaluations and participation
        in a Regional Planner presentation). 
•    Senior Disaster Preparedness Presentation at the “Age Odyssey”
        conference in partnership with the Land of the Dancing Sky Area
        Agency on Aging. Individual presentations have also occurred. 
•    Completion of the Critical Infrastructure Preparedness Planner Learning Path

With an enhanced focus on homeland security and terrorism incidents in the upcoming year, the Northwest Minnesota Emergency Manager’s Joint Powers Board is looking at an exciting and prepared 2018!

Just like riding a bike . . . and then some

ERSKINE, Minn. — Winter unofficially may have arrived in the region but not before more
than 100 students at Win-E-Mac Elementary School could get the wheels rolling on a new
bicycle education program.

The school was the first to break in a fleet of 7-speed bicycles through the Northwest
Regional Development Commission headquartered in Warren, Minn. The organization —
which covers Polk, Roseau, Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Norman
counties — purchased the bikes with a Walk! Bike! Fun! grant from the Minnesota
Department of Transportation.

"It's a great program to get the kids introduced to the biking realm," said Troy Schroeder,
transportation director with NWRDC. "There's a lot of kids who don't have an opportunity
to ride bikes when they're younger, and they don't ever get introduced to it because
maybe their parents aren't into biking."

Click here to read the full article at

Click here to sign up to reserve the bike fleet for your community!

MnDOT Awards Bike Fleets for
Walk! Bike! Fun! Implementation

More than 16,000 Minnesota youth will benefit from the Minnesota Department of
Transportation’s Safe Routes to School grants that support pedestrian and bicycle safety
education in schools. Bicycle fleets, trailers and supplies were awarded to the Northwest
Regional Development Commission in Warren, St. Cloud Area Public School District and
Willmar Community Education and Recreation. Awardees estimate the three fleets will
be used in 42 schools, scout groups, 4-H clubs, parks and recreation and after
school programs. Read more about the awards.

Healthy Living As You Age

The Healthy Living As You Age initiative has provided an opportunity for the DSAAA to
partner with other Minnesota AAAs and local health care providers to expand the availability
of evidence-based health promotion programs across our 21 county region. Leader trainings
were hosted in targeted communities that increased the number of leaders who offer A Matter
of Balance, Tai Ji Quan, Chronic Disease and Diabetes Self-Management classes. 


Some of our local partners in this project include LifeCare, Riverview, Sanford Health,
Lake Region Healthcare, Park Rapids CHI St. Joseph’s, Breckenridge, Ecumen, Living at
Home programs in Warren, Park Rapids, Barnesville, Pelican Rapids, as well as Northwoods
Caregivers and Lakes and Prairies Community Action.


Powerful Tools for Caregivers
A program that makes a positive difference in caregivers’ lives through increased confidence in coping with caregiver demands, management of emotions and improved self-care behaviors.

Caregiver Consultant Services
Providing care for an older adult or someone with memory loss can be stressful and overwhelming. Caregiver Consultants help people assess their situations and identify strengths, concerns and issues as well as find solutions and resources to assist in providing care. 


Holding a “Family Meeting”
A family meeting is a chance for spouses, children and others involved in the care of an older adult to identify needs, share responsibilities and develop a plan that will best serve the whole family. It can help build understanding about changes in an older adults health or ability to function and increase communication and sharing of caregiving responsibilities.

Community Development: Supporting a Diversified and Resilient Economy

The NWRDC is charged with assisting communities through a variety of means that support a diversified and resilient economy and contribute to an attractive and compelling quality of life. Staff participate in a variety of groups, steering committees, taskforces and the like throughout the year.  Even when we are doing our “normal” work program routine, there are many occasions during the year when opportunities or challenges spring up and must be addressed. The variety is endless and more than can be shared on these pages; a more complete review of our work program is available on our website at


In 2016, the NWRDC staff were heavily involved with comprehensive planning in the City of Fisher and Smiley Township, assisted with curriculum and seminar development for a statewide professional peer learning process, worked with the U of M RSDP on developing funding priorities, reviewed applications for community-based projects, served on an advisory board for the UMC EDA University Center to conduct economic impact analysis and applied research and collaborated with MADO colleagues to create DevelopMN­ — a statewide economic development strategy for rural Minnesota. These projects, and more, are just some of the issues that we work with on an annual basis.

Dancing Sky AAA Strategic Plan
Emergency Management Region 3 Logo
MnDOT Walk! Bike! Fun!
Grandpa and Lucy Collage
Dementia Friends
Warroad MN Logo
A Matter of Balance, Ulen, MN

A Matter of Balance class in Ulen, MN.

NWRDC Bike Fleet, Erskine, MN
NWRDC Bike Fleet, Erskine, MN
MN Department of Agriculture Logo
EDA Logo
Impact 20/20 Logo
mhp logo
Home Build Interior Warren MN
The B.U.S. Transportation
Can-Am Cross-Border Emergency Coalition

First meeting of the Can-Am Cross-Border Emergency Coalition.

Soyko International Gary MN

Soyko Intl. in Gary, MN

Rep. Deb Kiel completing Virtual Dementia Tour

Rep. Deb Kiel participating in the Virtual Dementia Tour

Dementia Friends Minnesota Logo
Virtual Dementia Tour Logo
The Connection Team Silos to Circles Grant
Single Faily Home Build Warren MN

Single-family home built in Warren, MN in the Fall of 2018.

Stephen Ambulance Dementia Friends.jpg

Stephen Volunteer Ambulance became Dementia Friends in 2018.

bottom of page