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Minnesota agency award $1.7 million to area cities

Five cities in northwest Minnesota are receiving a total of $1.7 million in grants from the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Small Cities Development Program.

Money from the grant can be used for building maintenance, as well as appearance and efficiency upgrades such as heating and cooling systems, windows and doors.

The grants were given to 35 small communities across the state and totaled $17.5 million. They were available for cities and townships with populations fewer than 50,000 and counties with populations fewer than 200,000.

Oslo, Minn., which received a $399,280 grant, was awarded the largest DEED grant of the five cities that received them.

Oslo’s grant is designated for the rehabilitation of eight owner-occupied homes, three duplexes and four commercial buildings downtown.

Oslo Mayor Scott Kosmatka said there were only a certain number of spots in the grant and a notice was sent out to businesses and homes to apply. The spots were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Kosmatka said Oslo’s grant-related rehabilitation projects will begin either in late summer or early fall.

The other cities to receive grants were Badger ($223,104), Climax ($320,000), Crookston ($350,000) and Oklee ($379,500).

“These grants represent a second chance for many small communities that just don’t have access to this kind of financing,” State Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said in a press release. “The rehabilitation of housing stock in these small towns is particularly beneficial to our area, which for a long time has suffered from a lack of affordable housing.”

In Crookston, where housing shortages have been a problem, the grant is being used to rehabilitate a 98-unit multi-family rental-housing complex.