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Industrial park project funds fall through

By Staff | Jun 23, 2013

Despite a major setback, plans for Blue Earth’s new industrial park north of I-90 are still in the works.

But, at last Monday’s City Council meeting, Linsey Warmka of the Faribault County Development Corporation had some bad news for the council.

The city’s application for a large grant for the project from the Federal Economic Development Authority (EDA) was not funded.

That grant was for just over $1 million in matching funds to pay for all of the infrastructure.

“Our application was actually accepted,” Warmka says. “The problem is, they ran out of funds for all of the projects before they got to ours.”

The good news, however, is that the Federal EDA invited Blue Earth to resubmit their grant application for consideration for the next cycle of project funding.

The city, and FCDC acting as the city’s agent, only had days to get that accomplished.

“We have resubmitted the application,” Warmka says. “But, it means another three to four months before we will hear an answer.”

Meanwhile both Warmka and City Administrator Kathy Bailey say the project is still a go as far as they are concerned.

“We feel it is still the direction we want to go,” Bailey says. “But, we know that some of our other funding is dependent on us getting this federal grant.”

Specifically she is referring to a $350,000 grant from the state Department of Energy and Economic Development (DEED).

Warmka says she is still working on the land acquisition process as well as dealing with at least one business that has committed to building there.

At the meeting, Warmka also gave an update on FCDC’s progress so far this year.

She included information on a seminar that will be given on the Affordable Healthcare Act and how it will impact small businesses.

Warmka also informed the council that she has been nominated to serve on the South Central Work Force Council. She also gave information on a Tour of Manufacturing scheduled for the area on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The FCDC executive director also gave the council an update on progress with attempting to get a veterans’ outpatient clinic to locate in Winnebago.

Warmka’s final portion of her report had to do with the local Blue Earth EDA working on a new program for Blue Earth businesses to receive a forgiveable grant/loan for making improvements to their buildings.

She says the EDA would be using some of the money that became available to them with the closing of the TIF District that helped fund the warehouse at Seneca Foods.

“The EDA is considering putting $95,000 into the fund, with loans up to $20,000 to the businesses,” she explained. “It is not fully decided how it will operate yet.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:

Heard an update on the area Drug Court that serves three counties, including Faribault, from director Miranda Rosa.

Voted to authorize the purchase of a used 2006 road grader at a cost of $145,000 an amount less than what it would cost to fix up and rebuild the current grader.

Did not take action on a request from Shawn Gudahl to build a drainage line from the new home he is building on Highland Drive to a nearby city-owned pond.

City Attorney David Frundt says there are several issues concerning such a line and he will investigate the situation and bring back a recommendation to the council.

One of the neighbors in the area voiced an opinion against building the line and indicated it was already installed.

Gudahl, however, denied that any tile line or trench had been dug in and invited the council members to come and inspect it for themselves.