It’s finally a done deal
It has been in the planning stages for five years, but last week the new Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce building took what Chamber director Cindy Lyon calls “a Giant leap forward.”
Lyon finally received official word that a $300,000 state grant for the building project was approved by the State Legislature and signed last week by Governor Mark Dayton.
The monies are coming from the State Legacy Fund, and Lyon credits State Rep. Bob Gunther and State Sen. Julie Rosen as being instrumental in getting the grant for Blue Earth.
“This would not have happened without their assistance,” Lyon says. “They had us come up to St. Paul and testify before both House and Senate Legacy Fund committees.”
Now, with both the state grant and the $187,000 that has been raised locally, Lyon says the Chamber is ready for the next step.
“Our Chamber and CVB (Convention & Visitors Bureau) boards will now meet and the next step will be to decide the size of the building and have plans and drawings done,” Lyon says. “Then after that we will get bids for the work. I think a target date to get started would be this fall.”
Lyon says even with the state grant, they will need to raise some additional funds. The goal for local fundraising is $400,000, as the building is expected to cost around $700,000.
The new Chamber facility will be built in front of the statue of the Green Giant in Giant Park. The Chamber purchased a former gas station on the property and it was demolished. The city of Blue Earth’s Economic Development Authority issued a loan to the Chamber for the land purchase.
The building will be the new home of the Chamber offices, the Tourist Information Center and Souvenir Gift Shop, and the Green Giant Memorabilia Museum.
There will also be restrooms instead of the port-a-potty now at the Red Barn a meeting room and more.
“Blue Earth Light & Water is looking at installing an electric car charging station out there,” Lyon says. “We want to make our Green Giant building as ‘green’ as we can.”
It is now decision time, Lyon said. Those include the exact size of the building, what kind of heating system, type of flooring and many other things.
“We have been using Hinrichsen Construction as our consultant and they have drawn up some preliminary plans for us,” Lyon explains. “But now we need to make some final decisions so the plans and specs can be drawn up.”
There is also an issue with the water table being quite high in the building site, and Lyon will be meeting with city engineers from Bolton and Menk to see what can be done about it. The orange snow fence around where the old gas station was located is there because of a fear of cars and trucks getting stuck if they drive through the area, Lyon explains.
But, despite five years of problems, issues and setbacks, Lyon is now excited to begin these next steps on the way to a new Chamber of Commerce home.
“We started on this idea in the spring of 2012,” she says. “And it feels like there has been one hurdle after another to get to this point. But, now we are finally ready and able to take that Giant leap forward.”