RDA Executive Director Steps Down

Friday, August 28, 2020

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The Executive Director of the Swift County RDA has stepped down.

Jennifer Frost, who has led the community and economic development agency for the past 13 years, said she is leaving to take an opportunity with Minnesota’s Office of Broadband within the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Prior to working with the RDA, Frost indicated she worked in the telecom industry in an August 21st letter to County Administrator Kelsey Baker, and the RDA Board of Directors. “I’m excited to revisit my past telecom experience, combine it with my development work, and explore this new path in my career journey.” The resignation is effective September 11th.

Frost said she is proud of the work the RDA has been able to do, especially the collaboration with Vicki Syverson, Executive Director of the Swift County HRA around housing “It’s hard to leave when we have this great working partnership and record of success with housing grants. But I’m passionate about broadband. Especially when it comes to rural Minnesota.”

The coronavirus pandemic may have played a part in the job acceptance.

Frost was interested in the work the Office of Broadband was doing before the coronavirus health emergency was declared but she noted that the restrictions put in place really put a spotlight on the importance of broadband. “Suddenly students had to learn from home and workers who were able to work remotely - were required to… Telecommuting went from being a niche thing to mainstream.”  

In fact, Swift County had just adopted the Telecommuter Forward! Resolution in February 2020. The program was rolled out by the Office of Broadband to encourage communities to commit to promoting opportunities for remote work. “Communities like Swift County, which has great access to high speed internet and is ranked #3 of 87 in the State for access to broadband; are well-positioned to capitalize on telecommuting, noted Frost. “I’m hopeful that in my new role I’ll be able to help create some of those program tools and they will in turn expand employment opportunities and give people a new reason to move to a rural area.”

The Office of Broadband also administers the Border to Border grant program. Swift County was a recipient of $4.95M in grant funds in 2015 for a joint project with Federated Telephone Cooperative bringing Fiber to the home of all unserved areas of eastern Swift County. MVTV Wireless also won a $800k grant to extend services throughout the region, including Swift County.

A transition plan is underway to continue the Swift County CARES business and nonprofit grant program and ensure office functions like the accounting, responding to emails/phone calls will still take place. Someone will also be monitoring the RDA website and social media accounts too. New loan applications will likely need to wait until new staff gets in place. Applicant reviews for the RDA Executive Director position will begin on September 11th.

Category: Swift County, Swift County RDA, Economic Development, Jobs