Stories

Economy and community grow together

In addition to giving and grantmaking, our business finance programs are a critical piece of community impact. Loan programs have always been a key function of SWIF in its support of communities and businesses   throughout southwest Minnesota. SWIF partners with banks and credit unions, economic development organizations, nonprofit lenders and private investors to offer creative financing. As we work to close the opportunity gap for children living in poverty, part of the solution is ensuring there are great employers, great jobs and a strong economy for the next generation. In FY17, SWIF made 31 loans totaling more than $1.1 million. Over the years, our loans have supported 17 businesses in Luverne alone, including those featured below.

  • In 2017, Mandy and Jason Brecher (pictured with daughter Stella) received financing from SWIF to open the doors at Oasis Care Home, a house in Luverne where seniors can live and receive skilled nursing assistance. Their unique alternative to a traditional nursing home is nestled along a residential street and offers the comforts of home with the addition of skilled nursing care around the clock.
  • Stacy Riphagen received loan assistance from the Southwest Initiative Foundation to launch her commercial and residential interior design/furniture and accessories business “Dragonfly” located at 206 East Main Street in downtown Luverne. Riphagen has a certificate from the Sheffield School of Interior Design in New York. In 2010, she started a part-time business out of her home, Designs by Stacy. She then had the opportunity to purchase a building and begin the business full-time.
  • Midwest Fire Equipment & Repair Company in Luverne has been designing and manufacturing high-quality fire tankers and pumpers since 1987. They’re the vehicles used by municipal and volunteer firefighting departments all over the U.S., Canada and even worldwide. Southwest Initiative Foundation helped finance the purchase of this business by Sarah and Dean Atchison. Collaboration among SWIF’s Business Finance Program, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, Prairieland EDC and the Southwest Regional Development Commission made this possible.
  • A stunning faceli restored the Arcade Building’s arched façade to its former glory, and made a home for Sterling’s Cafe & Grille. The building had undergone many transitions with changing tastes, diminishing its distinctive charm. Southwest Initiative Foundation helped finance the restoration, which has spurred additional downtown development.