Author Archives: Vicki Oakes

Main Street Building available for Development

Sold.  Sale of Real Property.

The Ortonville Economic Development Authority is accepting sealed written bids for the sale of “The Old Hardware Building” located at 28 Second Street NW in Ortonville.






New Job Training Programs

Great meeting today with Kary Boerboom of the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council (who specialize in helping businesses source and train skilled employees) – she stopped in with information on the new work-based programs that are available to help businesses with their workforce needs.

Please read through the new programs below – and let us know if you would be interested in attending a business workshop to discuss your workforce needs along with a presentation and discussion with Kary of SWMNPIC on the programs that they have available.

Please respond to either –
Mary Hillman of the BSLA Chamber at 320-839-3428; or
Vicki Oakes of the Ortonville EDA and BSAG at 320-839-6155
or use the “Contact” page on the top line menu of this website

On-the-Job Training
You do the training and the employee does the learning.  The employee learns skills unique to your business and industry.  Your business is reimbursed up to 50% of the employee’s wage for the length of the contract.

Transitional Job Opportunities
A Transitional job is a short term, structured work experience that takes place at your work site.  You have an extra worker whose wage, worker’s compensation and FICA is paid by SWMNPIC for the duration of the transitional assignment.

Incumbent Worker Training
This business driven program is designed to provide direct financial assistance to train current employees and improve the economic competitiveness of your business.

Registered Apprenticeships (this is not just for union work!)
Registered Apprenticeship is a tried-and-true approach for preparing workers for jobs – and meeting the business needs for a highly-skilled workforce that continues to innovate and adapt to meet the needs of the 21st century.  Business that use apprenticeship reduce worker turnover by fostering greater employee loyalty, increasing productivity, and improving the bottom line.


Who is the Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council?

Check out a few interesting links for businesses – click here!


EDA Update 3-23-16

Since there are a few items that I’d like to share, I thought it might be the easiest to embed the information in one place for your review. — Update for Ortonville EDA & City Council

Appleton Prison

First, yesterday was a full day! I took the bus that left from Appleton at 6:00 a.m. – and for the evening I was at the RDC Board meeting in Appleton that started at 6:30 p.m. which ended about 8;30 p.m.

Good news – the bill did pass the committee with a 10-7 vote; however, it will be a long road when it comes to the Senate and Governor!

If you have facebook, here is a link to a short video taken by Paul Raymo which was taken while we were in the Committee room.  – Link-Click here

Due to the opposition’s disruptions, the Committee meeting is split into multiple videos.  All those in support of the Appleton Prison are on the first video.  After the break, those in opposition spoke along with the vote. — we were cut back to 2 minutes per testifier which did not allow enough time for much detail – Jen (Swift County) had covered specific regional bullet points – so I did not cover those… I had planned for 4 minutes so knocking it down to 2 min & try to avoid what others had said was difficult – and then include the comments that were constantly murmured in the background!  —  was great to see our Rep. Jeff Backer while in St. Paul (he stopped in the Committee room to see how things were going just as the meeting had been suspended due to the disruptions).

Julie of KDIO just told me that I was quoted in the Washington Times – so of course I had to go look that up.  🙂  ….

“We are not asking the state to incarcerate more people. We are asking you to house them in an environment that will provide the services they need,” said Vicki Oakes of the Ortonville Economic Development Authority

Oakes and other people who testified during the hearing were repeatedly cut short by protesters who interrupted from the crowd, saying the re-opening of the Appleton prison would be an immoral outrage and a “form of slavery.” Committee chairman Rep. Tony Cornish closed the hearing for about 30 minutes following the outbursts.

Link to article:


BSC County Connect Initiative

First meeting after the Kelly Asche presentation is scheduled:

Monday, March 28th at 6:30 p.m.
at the Clinton Memorial Building

Link to PDF Agenda:  2016-03-28 Invite and Agenda

FYI, you can follow this initiative on the BSAG website:
Link –

A couple of other items when it comes to Regional Recruitment:

  • I attended the UMVRDC Regional Recruitment meeting which was held in Madison on March 17th – we had a very interesting presentation and discussion about a regional recruitment initiative in Canada.  Although the square miles covered was larger, the population covered was 5,000 – very similar to Big Stone County.  This initiative started seven years ago and they are have success.  This is a two-part series.  The next meeting will include how they have structured and funded this program.  I will provide complete information at the next Big Stone Area Growth meeting.
  • There is a Regional Recruitment Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus (MRCC) is looking for funding for “The Greater MN Regional Workforce and Community Development Pilot Project” – a powerhouse of potential designed to show what these great local efforts could do if provided some funding and structure. — Jen (Swift County economic development) had asked me yesterday if I’d be willing to speak in St. Paul for this project since I’ve been doing similar work in Big Stone County — and it was also included as an info item in the UMVRDC Board packet last night – link to PDF info MRCC Info 1

Dilapidated Buildings

Since the Ortonville Planning Commission was looking into dilapidated structure programs, I had provided information to them which I had obtained during a regional dilapidated building meeting last year  – I’ve not heard since if there was interest/discussion at the City; however, Swift County took the info and has structured a program – they presented their work at last nights RDC Board meeting.  Here is a link to the two-page program info – Swift County Demolitoin Program  – I will be talking program details with the BSC Economic Development Authority tomorrow evening in Graceville.


Ortonville Park Plan

As part of the National Park Service grant, there will be a meeting on April 29th at 12:30 at the Ortonville Library Media Center (lower level).  The students that were in Ortonville in February will be presenting their final Boards and discussing their thoughts for the Park system in Ortonville.  A remeinder that you can follow all information regarding this process on the program’s websiite/blog  Link:




Starting & Managing a Business

According to the SBA: A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common structure chosen to start a business. It is an unincorporated business owned and run by one individual with no distinction between the business and you, the owner. You are entitled to all profits and are responsible for all your business’s debts, losses and liabilities.

For more information on this and complete resources from the SBA on starting and managing a business:

  • How to Start a Business
  • Write your Business Plan
  • Choose Your Business Structure
  • Choose & Register Your Business
  • Business Licenses & Permits
  • Learn About Business Laws
  • Business Financials
  • Finance Your Business
  • Filing and Paying Taxes
  • Hire & Retain Employees

Another very good resource for starting a business is the Southwest Initiative’s CORE (Center of Rural Entrepreneurship) website.  Here you will find an excellent video series (9 videos) on starting a business.  The site also provides templates for Business Plan Tools such as writing your business plan and preparing the cash flow projections.

More Business resource links can be found on our website:  Business Resources tab

SoGoSurvey My Latest On-Line Tool Tip!

Are you looking for an on-line survey tool, check out!

The Ortonville EDA submitted a grant for technical assistance with the National Park Systems (NPS) to create a Park Plan for the City of and I needed a survey tool so that we could reach out to as many people as possible for input in this Plan.  More community input equals a better plan!  I’ve heard many mentions of Survey Monkey; however, when I checked out the cost of their fee – I decided to see if there were alternatives that would have a more reasonable subscription fee (of course I’m always looking for free!) yet still have easy-to-use forms and good reports.  As many of you know through the monthly Social Media Lunch program that we have held for our area business over the past year, I’m always looking for the best yet economical on-line tools!

SoGoSurvey is the one!  I created a draft Park Survey and sent it out for a trial run to the Park Board and a few other committee members to see how it worked (and get their input on additional questions we should be asking).  Worked great!  I am now updating the survey from the Committee’s input and the final survey will be hitting our website, social media accounts and sent out via e-mail very soon.  Watch for the survey – please fill it out to help the City create the Park Plan… and keep it in mind if you need to create a survey in the future!

This is our latest on-line tool tip!

Surveys are powered by Survey Tool
Provided by SoGoSurvey

Otter Tail Power AQCS Project Complete

Otter Tail Power Company, Big Stone Plant

Otter Tail Power Company, Big Stone Plant

Jeff Endrizzi (Otter Tail Power Company, Big Stone Plant Manager) and Jim Kramer (Safety & Security Coordinator for the Air Quality Control Systems Project) stopped at the Ortonville EDA office today with the news that the AQCS Project is now considered complete and they are officially back on-line with business as usual.  It is certainly good news for the project to be complete; however, many of our local businesses and rental property owners have commented that they will certainly miss the influx of activity that this project brought to our area.

The Big Stone Plant which serves 298,500 customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana began operations in 1975.  In the spring of 2013, the workers started to arrive for the construction of the Air Quality Control Systems Project (at an approximate investment of $490 million).  The construction period ran from 2013 to 2015 and at its peak, it brought as many as 500 construction workers to the area.  Although this is a South Dakota Plant, our Minnesota community enjoyed the economic impact of this project and continues to benefit through the employment opportunities, work for our local contractors and other area vendors.

A few Otter Tail Quick Facts:  (taken from their “Our commitment to you” brochure)

  • Mixing it up.  Reliable, affordable, environmentally responsible electricity requires a mix of resources.  Today nearly 20 percent of Otter Tail’s electricity comes from renewables, a number they expect to grow.
  • Otter Tail’s average residential rate is 31 percent lower than the national average
  • Giving back.  $572,000+ in charitable contributions in 2014
  • Investing in Change.  45% of their net investment is in renewable resources, environmental upgrades, and transmission improvements.
  • Creating jobs.  +25,200 jobs added or saved over the past 25 years.  They also support the health and vitality of local vendors.  In 2014 they paid more than $290,000,000 to tri-state vendors.

For a complete update on Otter Tail Power Company’s Big Stone Plant AQCS Project, watch for next week’s edition of the Ortonville Independent!


Time to Start the Ortonville Parks’ Plan!


The Ortonville EDA applied for technical assistance from the National Park Service (NPS) – through their Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) program – which the City has been granted!

The Ortonville City Council, the Ortonville Planning Commission and the Ortonville Park Board all voted unanimously to support the City’s application for this assistance program to prepare a Park Plan.  The Ortonville EDA, Big Stone Area Growth (thanks to Vince Robinson for his additional assistance!) and the Arts Council Board all provided letters of support for the application.

Goal:  Prepare a Parks, Trails and Recreation Plan (Plan) for the City of Ortonville

This Plan is intended to guide the long range and comprehensive decision-making process.  The Plan will provide a view of what the community wants the parks, trails and recreational future to be and sets forth public statements that provide direction and guidance in the decision making process.  It will lay out a community vision for parks trails and recreation and an action plan for priorities.  In this Plan, Parks include all green spaces and such things as the golf course, hockey arena, etc. and would include things that are determined by the community to be of importance – such as the most recent interest for a Dog Park and the possibility of making the Cultural Center (Water Plant building at the north end of Lakeside Park).central-park

In order to keep the public aware and give opportunity for any and all who would like to be involved in this process, we have created a blog – – so that everyone that is interested can view all discussions and information being reviewed and correlated throughout the process.  We are hopeful that this will also encourage more of the community to get involved and submit comments, suggestions or corrections to the historical information, etc.

We were asked to provide a map that included the park locations and provide some basic information about each park (the more information the better!) – which, again, in order to keep it accessible to anyone and everyone, we have created the map on Google Maps and have embedded the map on the blog.

Thanks to the information that has been provided through the Historical Society’s County book 1881-1981, the U of M Center for Small Towns ‘History of the Ortonville Park System’ and to Diane Dorry’s book which she has compiled through her years on the Ortonville Park Board, I have started adding the park information on the blog.  So, please – check it out and contact me (Vicki) at the EDA Office if you have information that you’d like included, suggestions for parks and if you’d like to be on the e-mail list and involved throughout the process.  Phone:  839-6155 or e-mail  or use the Contact tab at the top of our website. – keep in mind I’ve just started adding info… but you will see many updates during this week!

Make sure to bookmark the blog! 

Any and all input would be much appreciated – hope to hear from you soon!