City is recognized for completing REV program

By: 
Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo

Members of the Montgomery Business and Entrepreneur Engagement Committee accept a recognition plaque for their completion of the Rural Entrepreneurial Venture development program. Pictured, from left, are former congressman and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) President and CEO Tim Penny, Kathy Peterson, City Administrator Brian Heck, Economic Development Authority Board Vice Chair Jean Keogh, Montgomery Business and Entrepreneur Engagement Committee Chair Erin Barry, City Planner Joshua Mankowski, and SMIF Vice President of Entrepreneurship Pam Bishop.

Committee members of the Montgomery Business and Entrepreneur Engagement Committee (MBEEC), a sub-committee of the Economic Development Authority, received a recognition plaque for completion of the Rural Entrepreneur Venture (REV) program by the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation at the Jan. 16 city council meeting.

“The REV program is an entrepreneurial development program designed to advance small town economies through a targeted business approach. REV provides coaching, resources and connections throughout the visioning and implementation process as each community explores what economic development means for their town,” their website states in a spotlight focus about Montgomery.

It continues, “We – the city staff – did not know the extent of our entrepreneurs or small businesses. We didn’t know how many there were, what services were provided, where they were located, etc. prior to engaging in the REV program. The general business community was starting to slowly grow, with new services filling vacant buildings in the city’s central business district. There was also a lack of knowledge about what support could be provided by the city and other organizations. City staff and the EDA were more ‘passive’ when dealing with business development; we generally waited for individuals/businesses to contact us.”

Some of the items that the REV program completed over the past few years in Montgomery has included small business workshops, holding a Civic Summit, interviewing and holding focus groups with local businesses, developing a standing committee, and working with Tri-City United Schools (TCU) with their STEAM program.

The STEAM program, which began implementation in 2023, is working to expose students to local businesses as a part of the overall program. This has included local business owners speaking to students about what it is like to run their business, gives students an opportunity to ask questions, and to see different trades. TCU Superintendent Kevin Babcock has aspirations for the program to also provide internship-like partnerships between the students and local business owners.

The MBEEC is actually a viable continuation of what was the REV committee and is continuing effort by the City of Montgomery to foster new appropriate small businesses in Montgomery.

President and CEO of SMIF Tim Penny says, “For the past three years we worked closely with the leaders here in Montgomery with REV.” He considers the REV program a success here and was happy to learn that a permanent committee has been established because of it. Montgomery is the 10th city to complete the REV program since it began in 2018.

City officials and members of the MBEEC showed care for the empty buildings in Montgomery and discussed what new... 

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