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EDA adds two

By Staff | Jun 5, 2016

Two new members were sworn into Winnebago’s Economic Development Authority Wednesday, the same night the board proposed a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce to forward a local business program.

After a majority vote to appoint Scott Lehman, owner of Backwoods Designs, to the board, Lehman joined Melissa Engelby, of Profinium Financial in Fairmont, in taking the EDA’s oath of office.

“We’re glad to have you,”?said city administrator Chris Ziegler, welcoming the two.

It did not take long for Lehman and Engelby to involve themselves, either, as the entire board discussed a plan to support a customer incentive/loyalty program for the city.

Distributing a packet on the program, which could “encourage residents to purchase from local businesses with the benefit”?of generating additional expenses for local charities or the city itself, secretary/treasurer Jean Anderson suggested the formation of a committee with merchants to oversee program plans.

“And we would need constant advertising,”?Anderson said. “Some people will still drive to Mankato to save five cents on a can of peas, but the program emphasizes local pride and craftsmanship.”

Vice president Steve Malchow agreed.

“People forget that it’s a lot more difficult to keep people and services in town by going elsewhere,”?he said.

Meanwhile, Engelby and Lehman, a local business owner himself, said the program could also be impacting as a way of reigniting interest in the city.

“It would emphasize that it’s not just about shopping locally,”?Engelby said, “but about the community, the lifestyle.”

With Anderson and president Jeremiah Schutt volunteering to campaign for the program, the EDA?proposed a presentation of its plans at the Chamber’s scheduled June 9 meeting.

And in the event the EDA cannot reach the Chamber or warrant its support, Anderson suggested that the board could “otherwise take the bull by the horns”?and proceed with the project, provided that local businesses are also onboard.

Ziegler also outlined another EDA project at Wednesday’s meeting, saying that he plans to pursue business partnerships for a potential job fair.

“With it,”?Schutt said, “we’re hoping people can find jobs in town, maybe move to the town.”