- A pool of 80 applicants has been winnowed to 15 finalists, including four in the West Central Initiative service area, as the Initiators Fellowship nears its Oct. 25 selection day. Two fellows from WCI's nine-county regions will be chosen to join five other fellows in the two-year program. Elke Richards was selected from Douglas County. Her venture is Venn Hagen, a market that offers locally-raised, sustainable foods with a focus on food security and waste reduction. Also central to the vision are living-wage pay and growing a healthy community. The fellowship originated with the Initiative Foundation in 2017 to help aspiring social entrepreneurs fast-track their ideas, grow their social and professional networks and further develop their business and community leadership skills. The fellowship provides a $30,000 annual stipend along with an executive-level mentor, comprehensive programming, educational opportunities and support from initiative staff and board members. The 15 finalists represent a diverse range of interests — from an entrepreneur with a year-round, high-efficiency hydroponic growing system to a community-based place-making arts programmer to a social justice champion who aspires to create a social enterprise model that provides legal representation to income-eligible immigrants and refugees.
- The Minnesota Presenters Network appointed Nicole Mulder, executive director at Theatre L’Homme Dieu, to the Minnesota Presenters Network board of directors. Mulder has been selected to the board due to her work at Theatre L’Homme Dieu and in the Alexandria area as an advocate for the arts, a champion of community development and as a leader who is respected by arts organizations around the state. The Minnesota Presenters Network is a statewide organization, formed in 1992, that works to distribute and exchange information that is pertinent to Minnesota Presenters, stimulate cooperative projects throughout Minnesota and help provide diverse and exceptional artistic experiences to all Minnesotans.
- Arnquist Carpets Plus hired Korey Pedraza as its outside commercial flooring salesperson. Pedraza will call on area architects, builders and commercial customers. He comes to Arnquist from Mohawk Industries. Pedraza, his wife Bria and two children live in Alexandria.
The board of directors of the Alexandria Area Community Foundation and CommunityGiving hired Holly Witt as the executive director of the Alexandria Area Community Foundation. Witt comes to the AACF from the Lakes County Service Cooperative, where she served non-profits, cities, counties and other government agencies in a nine-county area as the assistant manager of member services. A native of Janesville, she attended Alexandria Technical and Community College and graduated from University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in human services. Witt worked previously as executive director of the Morris Area Chamber of Commerce and as the nonprofit resource specialist for Bremer Bank of Alexandria.