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Minnesota Newsletter   |   December 2013
Greater Than MN Update
The >MN Project is off and running in the NW Region, thanks to partnership with the Northwest MN Foundation. We held our first Town Hall meeting in Fertile, where a packed room of community members came out to voice their region's early care and education issues. Read more about the Town Hall.

Hot off the press is the NW Region's Community Solution Action Plan! The plan is based on the wealth of information gathered at the region's Town Hall and is posted on our website for public comment and feedback. View the plan.

Next, we are heading back up to Thief River Falls to convene the NW Region's Business Advisory Council, made up of local elected officials, superintendents, and business and economic development leaders. This powerful group of key stakeholders and decision makers is essential to turning their region's Community Solution Action Plan into a reality. Learn more about the Business Advisory Council.

>MN is coming to a region in Greater Minnesota near you! Stay tuned for updates at greaterthanmn.org and follow us on Twitter: @greaterthanmn
in the News

Prairie Business Magazine
Area Voices, Prairie Business Magazine
Crookston Times
Thief River Falls Northern Watch
Heidi Hagel Braid

Regional Director, 

Minnesota & the Dakotas


(612) 279-6504 direct



Jamie Swezey

Business Development Associate


(612) 279-6512 direct




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Building stronger child care businesses

>MN Awarded Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant

First Children's Finance is the proud recipient of the Bush Foundation's Community Innovation Grant for the Greater Than Minnesota (>MN) Project!
"Our inaugural Community Innovation Grant recipients are tackling a range of issues impacting quality of life in their communities," said Molly Matheson Gruen, the Bush Foundation's community innovation manager. "And they are doing it in a way that ensures all voices are heard and that the solutions will endure."
>MN is a statewide initiative to address rural early care and education needs in Greater Minnesota. Visit greaterthanmn.org to learn more.
First Children's Finance Receives 
DHS Contract


FCF was recently awarded a $400,000 contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services to provide loans and business planning assistance to early care and education programs in Minnesota.
Child care providers didn't get into the business because they wanted to be a CEO - but they have to be. Center directors and family child care owners are educators and entrepreneurs. But cash flow and strategic planning probably aren't the first things on their mind. That's where we come in.  
High quality early care and education is an investment not only for our children, but for the child care businesses tasked with serving them. With the Parent Aware quality rating and improvement system ramping up and an unprecedented amount of funding tied to quality on the state's horizon, it has never been more important to ensure that Minnesota has a robust supply of high quality, sustainable child care options for children and families. And, in order for those investments to be sound, child care programs must have access to business and financial resources. 
Are you a Parent Aware rated program looking to improve or expand your facility? Do you need help planning for quality and the future? Let us help. Contact Jim to learn more about our Loan Fund, or Heidi for more info on our business trainings, one-on-one help, and provider learning cohorts.
Grunewald Speaks to Business Leaders in Northern MN 
Image by Tony Potter, Hibbing Daily Tribune
Rob Grunewald, economist for Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, gave a presentation discussing "Minnesota's economic outlook and the role of early childhood education" during a business leaders luncheon forum recently at Hibbing Park Hotel. 
From the Hibbing Daily Tribune: 
The solution to providing the workforce with qualified workers long-term - the country's youth. "Early childhood growth is very important," Grunewald said. "I'm convinced that if we make changes and teach children what's important early, that'll have the greatest impact."