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BE, county discussing Go Minnesota contracts

By Staff | Apr 20, 2009

Rob Hammond

City and county officials aren’t backing away from financial commitments they have made to Go Minnesota. At least, not for now.

Blue Earth’s Economic Development Authority board met with Go Minnesota board members to discuss the organization’s future in light of the recent death of its director.

“We are very supportive of Go Minnesota and the direction it is going,” says Mayor Rob Hammond. “There were no threats made to anybody. We are certainly pleased with how they are moving forward.”

The city and Faribault County have each contracted with the non-profit economic development group for services at an annual fee of $50,000.

Hammond says Go Minnesota has agreed not to charge the city its monthly fee of $4,167 until a new director is hired.

So far, the city has paid nearly $12,500 for the months of January, February and March.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says there’s nothing in the contract with Go Minnesota that voids the agreement if the director’s position ever becomes vacant.

But, she says the city attorney has indicated that contract law provides that someone must be available to provide services.

“There were some questions, ‘What if this goes on for nine months? Are we going to let it drift that long?'” says Bailey.She was commenting on the group’s need to hire a new director.

The situation, however, between the county and Go Minnesota is different.

Once the director’s position became open, the contract between the two parties was voided.

On Thursday, the county’s EDA board met to discuss what their next move might be.

“We are still looking at hiring an employee for our day-to-day operations. But, we’re open to negotiations with Go Minnesota. No one has closed the door to that,” says Ann Schuster, chairperson of the county EDA board.

The county’s development board still owes nearly $12,500 for three months of services, but is waiting for some items of the contracts to be fulfilled before paying.

“We are operating under the assumption that if we go forward (with the county) we’ll need a new contract,” says Jeff Lang, Go Minnesota board chairman.

The organization has already started advertising to fill the vacancy.

Lang says the group wants to hire an interim director as soon as possible. He says ads placed in a newspaper and League of Minnesota Cities website attracted three candidates that are “highly qualified and are standouts” for the full-time position.

Hammond and EDA board member Peter Malecha will serve on a liaison committee to assist, if needed, during the search for a director.

In 60 days the city’s EDA will review the situation to see whether someone has been hired.

Councilman Dick Maher, who is a member of the city’s EDA board, says he’s all for continued financial support of Go Minnesota because it is a worthwhile venture.

“By all means. We were going in the right direction. It was doing very, very well,” he says. “It’s not an easy job to get all the different towns working together.”

Faribault County commission chairman Tom Loveall says future funding for the county EDA will likely be discussed at coming meetings and that could impact their support of Go Minnesota.

He says commissioners will need to make tough budget decisions because of the state’s economic woes.

“I just want more accountability of how Go Minnesota will spend the money and what services we’ll get. I’m going to look at it more critically,” he says. “I might look at it differently if it wasn’t for the bad economy.”