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SWIF invests $50,000 in Worthington Investment Network

WORTHINGTON — The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) has agreed to invest $50,000 into the Worthington Investment Network (WIN).

It was an easy decision for the SWIF board, which voted unanimously to support the investment in late June. WIN’s strategy — to renovate buildings and lease them to businesses — lines up with the Hutchinson-based nonprofit’s mission of supporting southwest Minnesota businesses with capital such as low-interest loans and grants, said Scott Marquardt, SWIF vice president.

“We saw a group of local community leaders, local citizens who chose to put their own capital and their own time into WIN to help entrepreneurs succeed in their community,” Marquardt said. “WIN’s goal of helping business startups, business transitions and business expansions aligns with what SWIF has been doing since 1986, so it was really an easy decision for us when we saw the vision put forth by WIN’s leadership.”

SWIF has helped Worthington-area businesses with technical support and loans for more than three decades, and has always stressed the important of local solutions. In Worthington, a big problem was a lack of available buildings for new businesses. The solution has already shown results — WIN recently purchased the former Rickbeil’s building on Third Avenue and Ninth Street, which will be renovated and leased to Forbidden Barrel Brewing, a brewpub.

“Having something that’s locally driven, private and locally focused will really give Worthington a competitive advantage,” Marquardt said.

For SWIF, the return on investment is not a lump of money, but more jobs, a larger tax base and better living standards for southwest Minnesota. Some of that starts in Worthington, the fifth-most populous city in the region.

“Worthington is one of our regional centers, and I believe strongly WIN will have significant regional impact,” Marquardt said. “To us, this is more than Worthington and Nobles County, this is about southwest Minnesota and the I-90 corridor. If Worthington is strong, southwest Minnesota is strong.”

Since its creation in February, WIN has now raised more than $400,000, most of which has come from individuals in the community.