LITCHFIELD, Minn.—The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) Board of Directors visited Litchfield for its October board meeting. The board toured local manufacturing businesses, hosted a community lunch and conducted its regular business meeting.
Litchfield is the home community of SWIF’s current board chair, Randy Reinke. Reinke is a second-generation owner of Custom Products, which manufactures cabs and operator protection structures that keep working people safe and comfortable. Custom Products employs about 140 people and recently celebrated its 60th anniversary with an open house and tours of the 170,000 square foot facility. Reinke said the best part of the celebration was seeing employees past and present welcome their families and friends to share what they do.
Reinke also shared about the Litchfield Area Community Foundation, one of SWIF’s 28 local affiliates. These local partnerships give southwest Minnesotans a way to support the charities and the places important in their lives, and a way to retain wealth in this rural region.
Since starting in 2004, LACF has raised more than $74,000 for its endowment fund, awarded grants totaling more than $48,000, and through investment strategies, their endowment balance still stands at more than $122,000 today. Grant recipients include The Opera House, LAMP Kinship, Meeker County Historical Society, youth hockey, the marching band, school district and more.
Current and past LACF advisory board members were among attendees at the community lunch. Local community and business leaders and elected officials, including State Rep. Dean Urdahl, participated in a discussion led by SWIF President/CEO Diana Anderson about local assets and opportunities.
Attendees felt Litchfield is a well-connected, caring community. They said many young people return to the area for career opportunities and noted strong major employers. Child care was identified as an issue. Proposed projects at the school and resources available through SWIF and LACF were also discussed.
In addition to its local affiliate partnership, SWIF has invested in Meeker County through grants totaling more than $1.9 million and loans totaling more than $2.2 million.
SWIF board members also toured loan client GVL Poly. GVL Poly is a full-service rotational molding partner, with 3D drafting and printing capabilities. Its team of about 30 employees includes experienced machine operators, engineers, designers, tool builders and other professionals. Using an exclusive polyethylene blend, GVL Poly produces durable, rust and chemical resistant products found in agricultural, outdoor recreation and other industries.
SWIF invests in businesses to keep southwest Minnesota communities strong and vibrant, ensuring quality jobs are available to support employees and their families today, as well as the next generation workforce. To date, SWIF has helped 761 businesses start, expand or transition with a total of $48 million in business financing.
In addition to Reinke, the SWIF Board of Directors includes Vice Chair Patricia Dols, Willmar; Past Chair Janice Nelson, Montevideo; Secretary Mark Titus, Jackson; Treasurer Christie Rock Hantge, Hutchinson; Tom Brakke, Deephaven; Terry Gaalswyk, Worthington; Dan Greve, Worthington; Abdirizak Mahboub, Willmar; Teresa Peterson, Upper Sioux Community; Kathy Wehking, Hector; and Theresa Zaske, Balaton.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
As a rural, regional community foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation is a permanent resource for the 18 counties and two Native Nations of southwest Minnesota. Its mission is connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities. Its current focus is Grow Our Own, an effort to ensure all southwest Minnesota kids get the best start to life and support from cradle to career. Since its founding in 1986, SWIF has distributed more than $82 million through its grantmaking and business finance programs. Learn more at swifoundation.org.
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