LACC Receives Blandin Grant and Plans for Hatchery Row Space
The Lakes Area Community Center (LACC) is the happy recipient of a $50,000 Blandin Foundation Leadership Boost Grant to create a brand-new community space! This space will be in the Hatchery Row development in the heart of downtown Battle Lake, which is set to complete by the end of 2023.
Leadership Boost Grants were launched to encourage Minnesotans living in rural and Tribal communities to be visionary and creative as they move their communities forward after two years of snowballing challenges.
“The last two years of complex crises have taken a toll on leaders across rural Minnesota,” said Sonja Merrild, director of rural grantmaking at Blandin Foundation. “In times like this, of great challenge and opportunity, the resilience and fortitude of rural people and places shines through. Yet, we recognize the critical need for more resources to move small communities from where they are to where they want to go.”
More than 300 Letters of Interest were submitted for funding, far more than anticipated. Based on the type of requests received, Blandin Foundation opened three grant rounds for Community Planning, Capital Projects in small towns under 3,000 people, and Creative Placemaking. To better support the many strong requests, the total amount of funding available increased from $1 million to $5.5 million after Blandin Foundation’s board approved an additional $3 million in June and a $1.5 million grant was secured from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.
“Rural and Tribal places simply don’t get their fair share of funding and resources,” said Merrild. “When we see stats like only 5 percent of philanthropic dollars and 10 percent of federal small business loan funds go to rural, this creates resource roadblocks to future opportunity. While the leaky pipes intended to bring resources into rural communities need a complete overhaul, Leadership Boost Grants are one way we can spark energy and action toward sustainable rural futures.”
The Lakes Area Community Center was invited to submit a full application for a Capital Projects grant.
The LACC sold its building at 112 W Main Street in January 2022 and have since been working with Good Neighbors Properties, the developers of Hatchery Row, on acquiring space that will benefit the community of the Battle Lake area. The space will be roughly 3000 sq ft with enough seating for up to 200 people but can be manipulated to work for smaller groups.
The funds from the Blandin Grant will be used in part to furnish the new space with functional furniture that will maximize seating configurations, state of the art technology for meetings and kid friendly activity stations to promote learning and play. The goal is to create a flexible space that is modern, functional, and fun. The LACC will be using grants like these, their funds from the sale of the W Main Street building, larger financial partnerships from local businesses and individuals to keep this space an affordable and accessible option for all our area residents to use. There will also be fundraising events and opportunities for community involvement in the coming months.
This new space supports the LACC’s belief that thriving communities connect, educate, attract, and retain great people of all ages. The LACC believes that our new space will support our mission by improving the quality of life in Battle Lake, building social connections and relationships for the residents, and cohesion within our own community. We will do this through events, accessible programming, and space for our residents of all ages to gather.
The LACC will also continue to put on multiple community events including weekly summer Turtle Races, the coordination of Wenonga Days activities such as the parade and the craft and vendor fair, and the fall season's Jack-o-Lantern Jubilee. The LACC will also encourage shopping at our local businesses through a variety of promotional events with the next one coming up in March called “Hop into Spring”.
For more information, please visit the LACC’s website – www.lakesareacommunitycenter.org or email email@example.com. If you’re interested in getting involved as a board member, volunteer, or a committee member for any of our events, the LACC would love to hear from you and appreciate your help.
Lakes Area Community Center
Alie McInerney, Senior Rural Advocacy Associate
All drawings are by Theisen Design Studios.