Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 10.11.2012

October 11, 2012

Today: Meet the Inbound Students (V. Dilley)

Birthdays: Kyle Nordine (10/7)

Next Week: TBA

Last Week:

Tim Penny looks pretty good for a recovering congressman. A self-described “raging moderate,” Tim represented the First Congressional District for 12 years from 1983 to 1995 and was known for mastering Washington’s opaque accounting practices. He was also a gubernatorial candidate in 2004, running under the Independent Party banner.

Since 2007, he has served as executive director of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), which promotes economic development in a 20-county area.

Tim said SMIF is not big, so they have to be smart about how they target their limited resources. The foundation trains its $5 million annual budget on two main initiatives: entrepreneur development and early childhood development. One is an investment in economic growth and job creation. The other is an investment in the people who will one day fill those jobs.

Work on the entrepreneurial side includes a micro-lending program and a revolving loan fund. More than $83 million has been invested in the region since SMIF’s inception in 1986. Tim pegs the return on those dollars at 14 to 1. SMIF allocates some $1.55 million each year to early childhood initiatives. Northfield has benefited from both of these areas of focus.

Tim said they encourage collaboration and weave it into everything they do. Grant recipients are encouraged to expand the circle when they are planning an initiative and to identify community assets before they proceed.

SMIF was launched with a McKnight Foundation grant, and the foundation still accounts for 20 percent of its funding. The other major sources are the SMIF $28 million endowment, the revolving loan fund, federal dollars and donations.

Megan Tsui, last week’s host, worked for Tim before she became executive director of the Northfield Enterprise Center. SMIF, along with the Northfield EDA, has funded SPUR, a co-worker site that also serves as a business incubator and accelerator. It is located above Jenkins Jewelers in downtown Northfield and offers workspace, meeting rooms and a collaborative culture.

Guests: Mizuki (Mickey) Oeda from Japan, Diatou Gueye from France, Adnan Mansjur from Indonesia, Hsin-Yuan (Cindy) Wang from Taiwan, Mizuki (Mickey) Oeda from Japan, Carolina Riofrio from Ecuador and Rachael Dawson from India, Matt Irwin and Spencer Fredrickson from The KEY (Amerman), Preston Seu (Williams), Bill Ripp (Lawlor) and Chris Heineman (Koenig)

Scholarship Enhancement Winner: Michelle Lasswell


— President Fenton, AKA Queen Jane, announced that Devon Barnes will be our new club secretary. He is replacing Matthew Rich, who stepped down to assume responsibilities for web maintenance and development.

— Rotary netted $29,230 from the Defeat of Jesse James Days Bike Tour. David Wolfe, club  treasurer, said that is just shy of our four-year average of $29,800.

— The Turkey Trot Committee met yesterday. Big plans for what is becoming a Northfield Thanksgiving tradition.

— President Fenton encouraged members to attend District 5960’s Foundation Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m. at the Prom Center in Oakdale, Minn. She said it is fun. That’s good enough for me.