Wilson provides some advice on how to improve chances of landing a grant.
Crookston City Council member Tom Jorgens, one of the leaders of the Crookston InMotion community stewardship/strategic visioning initiative, has been saying for some time that in order to maintain the program's momentum, an influx of money is likely going to be needed at some point. Volunteers will only be able to put it so many hours over such a long period of time without growing a bit weary, Jorgens has said.
It's not that Crookston InMotion has never been funded. Dollars from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation and Otto Bremer Foundation helped give birth to the effort that seeks to sort of map the community's future in the form of "Destiny Statements" and "Destiny Drivers" that populate those statements.
But, even though Crookston InMotion is being credited with playing a critical role in launching initiatives like the Downtown Square, Barrette Estates housing development/Crookston Homestead Act, and increased UMC interns at CHEDA and in the community, Jorgens and CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth have said that if more Destiny Drivers are to be achieved in the future, Crookston InMotion will likely need a grant of some kind, maybe even more than one, or some type of leveraged resources that come with new partnerships.
"We're seeing a lot of actual rubber on the road with some of these projects," Hoiseth said. "But they don't come free; the city is investing money and there's no never-ending well of money there. We're wondering what else is out there and what can we leverage our money with?"
"The fuses were lit on some of these things 12 to 18 months ago with the help of Crookston InMotion," Jorgens added. "What we have to be concerned about is what happens 12 to 18 months from now. How do we make the momentum continue?"
So this week, at a Crookston InMotion stewardship team meeting at Valley Technology Park, a grant guru, of sorts, was invited to the table, in the form of Dan Wilson, who retired last year after many years, and many successful grants, at the helm of Northwestern Mental Health Center.
WIlson, in turn, provided a wealth of grant-related tips, like if Crookston InMotion leaders wait for a granter to issue a request for proposals, "you've probably lost the ballgame." It's a very competitive climate with small towns battling for the same bucks, he continued, but Crookston InMotion has a successful track record behind it, which Wilson said can only help.
"The goal is not to get a grant, the goal is to further your interest," he said, adding that one of the most critical decisions comes early on, in the form of deciding what grants to pursue from what granters. If there isn't a synergy or nice fit from the get-go, Wilson said, the chances of getting funding are slim.
"Is the buyer interested in what you're selling?" he said. "Part of answering that is gathering all of your ideas during planning and lifting out those ideas that seem to have the greatest likelihood for success."
An idea has to be strong enough so that even if a grant applicant doesn't get the funding, the idea would will still be pursued, Wilson added.
More than once recently, community leaders, city council members and others have mentioned that the city should expand its bike path/trail system to the south end of town, and maybe even make the Downtown Square Pavilion a focal point. But Mayor Genereux said that idea alone likely wouldn't be enough to secure a grant.
"We can't just say we want a trail system or bike path," he said. "There are other, bigger things we want...better jobs, great healthcare, developing more ag partnerships and increased manufacturing."
Assuming the focus needs to expand beyond simply trails in the community, Jorgens said relationships need to be established. "Maybe trails relate to UMC internships, improved health and fitness...things like that," he said. "We need to pick some opportunities and go after them in a systematic way."
All that might make it necessary to get a grant to pay someone to lead Crookston InMotion, Genereux added.
Maybe the focus simply needs to be in people, Chamber President/CEO Shannon Stassen interjected. Specifically, the Crookston population. With major employers like the school district, RiverView Health and others anticipating a great deal of staff turnover in the coming years because of retirements, Stassen said the new people hired need to have many housing options and other reasons to call Crookston home.
"We need to make sure these people live here and not somewhere else," Stassen said.