Red Wing Ignite is one of 26 organizations and the only organization in Minnesota to be awarded with a grant through the 2019 U.S. Department of Commerce’s i6 Challenge.

According to Neela Mollgaard, Red Wing Ignite executive director, this grant has a value of $1,690,602 over three years. Of the total value, $750,000 is from the Economic Development Administration. The remaining $940,602 is from local and regional organizations. A requirement of the EDA grant was an in-kind match of funds.

"We are thrilled that the federal economic development administration has seen the value in our work,” Mollgaard said.

RWI launched in 2013 as a non-profit. According to the organization’s website:

“Red Wing Ignite fuels economic development by working with key sectors of the community to spur innovation by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and students.”

This is done through a variety of programs including:

  • Learn & Earn (high school students explore careers in advanced manufacturing)

  • WingerDojo (a free club for students to learn coding languages)

  • Internships for high school students

  • Co-working space for community members

  • The Makerspace

Red Wing Ignite has three main goals for the grant, according to Mollgaard: to advance innovative entrepreneurs, enhance regional connectivity and cultivate the workforce of the future.

“This really is building on the work that we’ve already started,” she said.

During an interview with the Republican Eagle, Mollgaard stressed that this grant is good for all of Red Wing and the surrounding community, not just Red Wing Ignite.

“I'm confident that our work will keep our community and region competitive,” she said. She went on to explain that is can be difficult for small and rural cities to compete with large cities.

A 2018 National League of Cities study found that Minnesota has stronger urban growth of businesses than businesses that are created and grow in rural areas.

“Everyone should feel proud of this,” Mollgaard stressed,