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EDA or Go Minnesota?

By Staff | Nov 9, 2009

Members of two county-wide economic development groups made their pitch to the Faribault County Board for continued funding in 2010.

Staff and board members of both the Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) and of Go Minnesota had been summoned to last Tuesday’s commissioner’s meeting.

While Board Chairman Tom Loveall says it was not a competition, commissioners discussed whether to continue their funding of the two groups.

“We are looking at the budget closely for 2010, and we are making cuts,” Loveall says.

Currently the county funds the EDA with $86,000, and has a contract with Go Minnesota that calls for a $50,000 payment over the year.

Ann Schuster, chairman of the EDA, and Zoa Heckman, executive director, reported they have about $100,000 in their operating fund, and another $350,000 in a revolving improvement fund.

“That is really not a lot when you are trying to do as many projects as we are,” Heckman says.

Schuster also points out that any funds remaining in their budget at the end of the year are put into the revolving loan fund.

The two went through a list of projects they have been working on. Most dealt with housing development and rehab. One project dealt with a possible new manufacturing plant in Wells.

Heckman also says she is busy administering several grant programs in the county, including the Gunther grant for housing projects.

She says the State Housing Authority will fund up to $250,000 in matching funds for administration of housing projects in the county.

“They will fund up to 75 percent of Zoa’s time spent on administrating these projects,” Schuster told the board.

Both the EDA and Go Minnesota were given approximately a half hour to give their presentations.

Bill Eckles of BEVCOMM and Jeff Lang of UHD spoke on behalf of Go Minnesota. Both serve on the board of directors of the group.

Eckles says local businesses in the county decided to group together in an effort to increase local economic development efforts.

“Our work force is shrinking, compared to other counties around us,” Eckles says. “What has been done in the past as far as economic development has had limited success, at best.”

He says the Go Minnesota group wants to try new ideas and see if they will work.

Lang gave a history of the group, listing their accomplishments to date. Those included meeting with all of the industries and many of the businesses in the county, developing a list of available property, and a new Web site.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.