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Bailey says BE needs EDA director

By Staff | Aug 22, 2010

Kathy Bailey

The city of Blue Earth next year may eliminate funding for the Faribault County Development Corporation, (FCDC), formerly known as Go Minnesota.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey recently told the city’s Economic Development Authority board it’s only a recommendation, but the city should consider hiring its own economic development director.

The main reason for the shift in funding?

There’s $1 million for housing rehabilitation the city wants to dole out.

“We need to get going on the projects and start getting down to details … who is going to qualify and how will the funds be allocated,” she says.

During a 2009 audit the housing funds were found to be part of the EDA’s revolving loan fund.

A four-member subcommittee — comprised of EDA and Housing Redevelopment Authority board members — has put together criteria on how the money will be used.

EDA board members, Mayor Rob Hammond and Dennis Zitnak, stressed that not funding FCDC is not a reflection of the group’s past efforts or effectiveness.

“It’ been a long time when we’ve had three business prospects like this brought to the board,” says Hammond.

The mayor was referring to FCDC executive director Doug Uhrhammer’s report of two businesses looking to expand in Blue Earth and the potential of an ag/industrial investment of between $18-$25 million.

“It’s been really good to see where you have picked it up from when you took over and where we are today,” Peter Malecha, EDA board chairman, told Uhrhammer.

Bailey has contacted Jeremy Germann, city administrator of Wells, to get an idea what a starting salary for a director would be.

This year, the city paid FCDC $50,000 to provide services under a one-year agreement that terminates at the end of the year.

If city officials decide to hire a director, says Bailey, about 50 percent of their time would involve administering housing rehab funds. The other duties of the job would include economic development and addressing planning/zoning issues.

Zitnak says he would like a definitive job description listing the director’s responsibilities.

Hammond says the housing monies could be an alternative to traditional funding sources applicants may not be eligible for.

FCDC chairman Jeff Lang says the organization has begun advertising for Uhrhammer’s replacement.

He says an ad has been placed on the League of Minnesota Cities website. The development group has already received one application, from Iowa.

“We want to move quickly in hiring someone, but we are always going to hold out for quality,” he says.