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Area briefs: Free coaching available for BIPOC-owned businesses

Winona ALC students get new scholarship offer; first tow of the navigation season heads north in St. Paul District.

Noris Cuisine Food Truck.jpg
The Noris Cuisine Food Truck of Ellendale, shown in this undated photo, is a graduate of the Prosperity Initiative, a program to help businesses owned by black, indigenous, people of color in southern Minnesota. (Contributed photo/Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation)

OWATONNA — Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation is recruiting businesses for a new cohort of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) who own or want to start a business for its Prosperity Initiative.

SMIF, working in partnership with Community Economic Development Associates, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce, Hourglass Consulting, Region Nine Development Commission and Rochester Diversity Council, offers the program. Since 2016, The Prosperity Initiative program has supported 70 clients with one-on-one business coaching.

The Prosperity Initiative was designed to provide education and business resources to the fast-growing BIPOC population to help BIPOC business owners and educate resource partners on the barriers and opportunities these individuals encounter.

SMIF will host a business plan workshop on March 30 to help individuals create a business plan for their company. Those interested in the Prosperity Initiative are encouraged to attend so that individuals have a well-developed business plan to include in an application.

This workshop will be presented in both English and Spanish. The English session will be held at 10 a.m. and the Spanish session at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested should register online at or contact Maddy Fisher at or (507) 214-7029. To apply for the Prosperity Initiative 2021 cohort, log onto by April 30. Contact Pam Bishop at or (507) 214-7013.


First tow goes through Lake Pepin

The first barge tow of the 2021 shipping season was the R Clayton McWhorter pushing 12 barges upstream on Lake Pepin about 9:00 AM on Friday, March 19 2021. (Contributed by Larry Nielson)

The first tow of the 2021 shipping season locked through Lock and Dam 10 at Gurrenberg, Iowa, on Wednesday, marking the start of the shipping season for the St. Paul District of the Upper Mississippi River.

The vessel R. Clayton McWhorter, pushing 12 barges upstream, entered Lake Pepin about 9 a.m. Friday.

The 2020 navigation season ended on Nov. 30 when the The Colonel locked through at Hastings, Minn. The 2020 season began on April 6 when the R. Clayton McWhorter was the first tow of the season.

Gift to MSC-SE supports Winona Area Learning Center graduates

WINONA — Minnesota State College Southeast Foundation announced a $200,000 fund that offers support for Winona Area Learning Center graduates.

Minnesota State College Southeast Technical and Community College logo


The gift, made by Jerry and Pat Papenfuss, provides opportunities for students who might not otherwise see themselves as college-bound.

Beginning in fall 2021, the Papenfuss Scholars Program will begin by supporting five Winona ALC graduates by meeting all of their college expenses at MSC-SE for up to two years. Funds will be awarded as “last-dollar” scholarships, meaning that after federal and state grants and any other scholarships are applied, the program will cover the remainder of tuition and fees.

“Not only will tuition, books, and fees be covered, but each student will receive a modest stipend to help with living expenses,” said Josiah Litant, vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at MSC-SE.

Emily Cassellius, principal at Winona Area Learning Center, lauded the gift as an opportunity for her students to further their education.

“The entire staff at the WALC is grateful for this gift and the opportunities it will open up for our students,” she said.

Farmers donate to local fire departments

WABASHA — Fire and rescue departments in Kellogg and Planview each received $2,000 donated by the Olmsted/Wabasha County Corn and Soybean Growers.

The donations are for the purchase of farm rescue equipment. Without local, trained volunteers, rural communities would face longer response times to their calls for aid.

“Helping our local departments in the purchase of the equipment will help our fellow farmers," said Benjamin Storm, chairman of the Olmsted/Wabasha County Corn and Soybean Growers. "As an organization, farm safety is crucial to us and we need to have the departments well-prepared and equipped to be able assist in case of a farm accident.”


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