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County’s EDA wants loan repaid

By Staff | Jul 15, 2012

It’s still not clear whether Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) will be able to get their $100,000 back or take legal action to get the money.

“I still have questions that need to be answered before I can completely rule out recovery,” says County Attorney Troy Timmerman.

“Taking action at this point is premature, but we’re not ruling it out,” he adds.

County officials are sending a letter to the Wells Economic Development Authority board, asking them to clarify a couple of issues.

In June 2010, the county EDA and the Wells EDA signed a promissory note and development agreement with Steve Singleteary of Singleteary Food Solutions in Wells.

To receive the $100,000 from the county, the company was required to have 15 full-time jobs by June 7.

A letter from Workforce Resources, Inc., in Mapleton to Singleteary indicated the meat-processing plant had 19 employees on the roster to meet the deadline.

“That doesn’t say there were 19 full-time employees,” says Timmerman. Workforce Resources says the workers were being paid $12 an hour and since the company began operating in March 2010, 20 people were hired in areas of sanitation, maintenance and production.

“Presently, we are also actively accepting applications in anticipation of the company’s upcoming labor needs,” wrote Colette Drager of Workforce Resources.

District 3 Commissioner Bill Groskreutz , who serves on the county EDA board, wants to know why the Wells EDA took funds intended to be a loan and converted into a grant.

“Who gave the authority and by what authority did they do that? That is a question I think this board is interested in,” he says.

Pointing a finger at someone to blame for the mixup could be difficult.

“We’re looking for someone to put a hangman’s noose on. The problem is those people are no longer here,” says John Roper, District 1 commissioner and county EDA board member.

“I hate to see someone walk away with $100,000,” he adds.

The people who signed the agreement with Singleteary and now serving on the EDA boards are Ann Marie Schuster and Rob Nelson for the county, and Darin Magnuson for Wells.

Brad Heggen signed the agreement on behalf of the Wells EDA as president and is still serving in that capacity.

Linsey Warmka, executive director of the Faribault County Development Corporation, suggested the board could wait to see what happens next April.

That’s the deadline Singleteary Foods has to create 53 jobs to reduce a $500,000 state loan payable to Wells by $100,000.

Warmka says the county EDA board needs to support Singleteary in his efforts to open the plant.

Roper agreed, saying, “we don’t want to get this to be Blue Earth against Wells.”

“I want to keep a working relationship going. We’re all working for one cause – to get jobs. I don’t care where they go in Faribault County,” he adds.

Timmerman encouraged county officials to open discussion with the Wells EDA.

“We need to find out what their feeling is about this,” he says.