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Will county continue to fund FCDC?

By Staff | Aug 9, 2010

John Roper

Faribault County officials have begun the budgeting process, meeting with the sheriff and county engineer on Tuesday to go over their proposed budgets for 2011.

After meeting for more than two hours, it was clear the multi-million dollar budgets will not generate near the debate when commissioners decide how to spend $50,000 for economic development.

That’s how much the county board this year funded Go Minnesota, now known as Faribault County Development Corporation.

The question among commissioners — What is the county getting for its money and how well is the county’s EDA board working with FCDC?

“I don’t think there’s been a good understanding of how they need to work together and to find that balance,” says Bill Groskreutz, county board chairman.

Last November, the board voted to stop funding its EDA and instead allocate $50,000 to FCDC. By doing so, the county would save $36,000.

A one-year agreement was later worked out with the non-profit, private development group spelling out services that were expected.

Commissioner John Roper isn’t too happy with the working relationship between the two groups.

Roper says a December application for $18,000 from the EDA’s revolving loan fund still has not been completed.

“It doesn’t do any good to have money sitting in the bank that could be used for economic development,” he says.

Groskreutz says the county EDA has about $300,000 in its revolving loan fundRoper says he knows of at least two other parties interested in seeking a loan, but dealing with two boards takes too long.

When applying for a loan, applicants work with FCDC officials in filling out the needed paperwork. When everything is completed the application is given to the county EDA board for a decision.

Another problem, says Roper, is the EDA board switched from meeting monthly to quarterly once their funding was eliminated. He says the board’s executive committee also.

Groskreutz says the December application has not been acted on because not all the paperwork has been done.

The county’s contract with FCDC expires at the end of December.

Groskreutz says the commissioners are willing to listen to any proposals from the EDA board.

“The $50,000 was to get Go Minnesota started. It was never intended to be an ongoing thing,” he adds.

Whatever the county board decides to do, Commissioner Tom Warmka says it is important to try and bring jobs and businesses to the area.

“There’s only one way for Faribault County to go, and that’s forward. We have to figure out a way to make economic development work,” he adds.