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County EDA questions contribution

By Staff | May 13, 2012

It’s a $100,000 question the Faribault County Attorney has been asked to find an answer to.

At issue is whether money the county Economic Development Authority board approved for the Singleteary Food Solutions project more than two years ago was a grant or loan.

“This EDA has never given out grants. I want accountability from the Wells EDA. They should either give us back the money or put it into their loan program,” says Commissioner John Roper, a member of the county EDA board.

When Steve Singleteary announced plans of opening a meat-processing plant in Wells, the city’s EDA gave a $150,000 grant to the project.

The county stepped up and committed $100,000 to the venture.

That’s when the confusion begins.

Wells EDA board chair Brad Heggen has said in the past that the money the city and county gave does not have to be repaid.

If that’s true, county EDA board member John Herman called the misunderstanding “an oops.”

“That’s a big oops,” says Roper. “That was a terrible thing to pull on the county.”

Linsey Warmka, executive director of the Faribault County Development Corporation, has researched the matter at the request of the county EDA.

According to minutes of a Nov. 19, 2009, board meeting, a motion made by then Commissioner Rob Nelson states the county’s $100,000 loan commitment to Singleteary Food be packaged into a joint-lending agreement with the Wells EDA.

In addition, Wells officials would determine the loan requirements and approve the lending agreement by July 1, 2010, or it would become void.

County Attorney Troy Timmerman will look into what options the county might have.

Commissioner Bill Groskreutz also serves on the EDA board and isn’t too optimistic anything can be done at this point.

“I don’t know what recourse there would be because the Wells EDA had total control of the money once they received it,” he says.