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Economic group looking for director, members

By Staff | Jul 26, 2008

A private group focused on economic development in Faribault County is moving forward and making progress.

Bylaws have been established and the organization will obtain 501c6 non-profit status.

Operating under the name of Faribault County Regional Development Corporation, there are currently four board of director members: Bill Eckles, president of BEVCOMM; Jeff Lang, administrator of United Hospital District; John Rivisto, CEO of Wells Concrete; and Keith Kor, plant manager at Corn Plus.

The business leaders believe better results in attracting new businesses or creating expansion could be achieved through the private sector with less government involvement.

“Our mission is to combine the public and private resources for a unified economic development strategy for the Faribault County region,” says Lang.

Eckles says all area cities work at getting jobs, businesses and housing, however, there isn’t one organization coordinating the efforts.

Now that Blue Earth and the county do not have economic development directors, the four business leaders feel the timing is right to form a regional entity.

“It’s a fight every single day to to bring prosperity to the area,” Eckles says. “We could take the resources from all these government entities taxpayers are paying into, focus them and hopefully achieve better results.”

FCRDC is in the process of hiring a director. Ads have been placed in newspapers and the website of the League of Minnesota Cities. A salary range of $65,000 to $90,000 will be paid, depending on experience.

“We’re looking for that person who can hit the ground running,” says Lang. “They will do an inventory of what has been done in the past and how effective it has been.”

Adds Kor, “We want someone who knows the grant process, the area and businesses. Someone who would be chomping at the bit.”

The corporation hopes to start interviewing for the position by mid-August and have someone selected by the end of the month. The person would likely begin their duties sometime in October.

Eckles says the operating budget for the development group will be $200,000 the first year.

Currently, the organization has $60,000; $15,000 pledged by each business of the present board.

Lang says they are working on obtaining two-year commitments of $30,000 from area businesses.

In addition, a business may become a member by paying a fee based on its annual revenue. Lang says area cities and the county also will be allowed to contract with FCRDC for services.

While the board is comprised of four members, up to nine could be elected by the group’s membership. It must include one person from Blue Earth, Wells, Winnebago and someone involved with a business or farming outside of those cities.

“We want to make sure every part of the county is represented” says Lang.

Rivisto sees merit in having business leaders working on economic development.

He says a similar group like the one they are starting played a big role in his company’s $20 million expansion in Albany.

“With that experience I thought we should be doing that here. This is a perfect way to do it. Without the politics and government involvement,” Rivisto says.