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FCDC to BE: Give us one more year

By Staff | Nov 15, 2010

Travis Keister

Travis Keister agreed with the Blue Earth City Council that not a lot of economic development has been accomplished in Faribault County in the last two years, but that isn’t due to lack of effort, he says.

Keister, the vice-president of the Faribault County Economic Development Corporation, asked the council to support his group one more year.

Blue Earth has given $50,000 to the FCDC each of the last two years. However, councilmen are debating whether to keep it in the budget for 2011.

“Have we brought in new jobs in the last two and a half years?” Keister asked. “No, we have not. But, have we saved jobs? Yes, we have.”

Keister told the council there are several projects in the works at this time, although he was not free to name any of them.

“I am asking you to give us one more year,” he told the council. “If we don’t produce after this year, then we won’t ask for your support.”

Keister told the council that without their continued support for the next year, his organization would cease to exist, unable to continue their work.

FCDC is the former Go Minnesota, and is composed of membership of several local businesses and industries.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord told Keister he supports the concept of their organization.

“What I have an issue with is that Blue Earth is the only city in the county supporting you,” Gaylord says. “Why aren’t Wells and Winnebago also supporting your group?”

Keister says it is not due to lack of effort.

“We are still trying to get everyone in the county to be helping with this,” he says. “We are still talking to other cities to join us.”

The other complaint by the council was lack of communication.

“I think we only have had a report from your director once or twice in the past two years,” Councilman John Huisman says.

Keister promised an increase of communication for the coming year.

“It should be a priority of our new director,” he says. “Plus, we are considering expanding our board with representatives from each city and the county.”

Keister also reported to the council that they had 15 applicants for the position of director, and have interviewed four.

“We are scheduling times to re-interview the final two at this time, and should have a new director in place soon.”

Also speaking at the work session was Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) chairman Dennis Zitnak.

He reported on economic development efforts in Blue Earth over the past few years.

Zitnak said there have been some results over the years, but also some frustration.

Currently the local EDA is still meeting and working on projects, with City Administrator Kathy Bailey filling the role of EDA director.

But, Zitnak says the FCDC is also working hard on several projects as well.

“I think you have no choice,” he says. “We have to support this group (FCDC), at least for another year.”

Councilman Gaylord says the city still wants to be involved in economic development, but it is a time of budget restraints.

“Maybe this $50,000 would be better spent somewhere else,” he said.

Because it was a work session on the budget, no action was taken at this time.