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Private development group meets

By Staff | May 19, 2008

Officials of four companies that have committed $120,000 to promote business expansion in Faribault County have met for the first time.

BEVCOMM president Bill Eckles says a meeting lasting more than an hour was held at United Hospital in Blue Earth.

In attendance were Jeff Lang, UHD administrator; John Rivisto, president of Wells Concrete Products Co.; Keith Kor, general manager at Corn Plus ethanol facility in Winnebago; and Eckles.

“Everything is in the preliminary stages. But, we want to have it up and going by July,” says Eckles.

Members of the group directed Lang to contact an attorney to draw up articles of incorporation.

Rivisto called the meeting “very positive and the group is definitely moving forward.”

“We all agree this is the right direction we should go and is something that needs to be done,” says Rivisto.

Setting up the private, non-profit Economic Development Authority organization has been in the works for the past several months.

The four businesses have each contributed $30,000 to help start the new pro-business entity.

While it is a diverse group that represents the medical, telecommunications, construction and fuel energy fields, they do have one goal in common.

“We don’t care if there is expansion in Wells, Winnebago or Blue Earth. It doesn’t matter to us where new development is,” says Rivisto. “We don’t have a dog in this fight. We just want to see the county grow.”

Eckles says they are still trying to recruit new members. To be part of the group a business must make a yearly contribution of $15,000 for two years.

Formation of an EDA organization led by business leaders was sparked when Blue Earth lost its community development director last October. It was the fourth person to leave the post in nine years and city officials began examining options that would provide more stability and consistency in promoting business growth in the area.

Eckles says when cities first started dealing with economic development the private sector took an active role. Then, government be-came involved.

“Other areas like Jackson and New Ulm have been successful with private sector involvement. We’re trying to return back to it,” says Eckles.