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Personal income down in Faribault County

By Staff | Aug 20, 2017

The Blue Earth EDA received a variety of update reports at their most recent meeting, including one of the construction of the two new ELM Homes buildings going up on East Fourth Street in Blue Earth.

A recent county-by-county economic growth report that was featured in a story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, caused some concern at the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) meeting on Thursday, Aug. 10.

EDA board member and Blue Earth city councilman John Huisman said the study has him very concerned.

“It shows Faribault County having zero or less improvement in personal income, while the counties around us are showing growth,” Huisman said. “I think we need to be concerned about this and bring it up with our local state legislators.”

The study, which covers the years from 2009 to 2015, shows Faribault County’s per capita personal income decreasing over those years by negative two percent. Other southern Minnesota counties increased by at least one percent.

The Star-Tribune’s story was about how rural Minnesota counties have recovered from the last recession of 2008.

But that is not true in Faribault County, Huisman said.

“We may be land rich, but we are income poor,” Huisman explained. “We have a lot of people in this county who are struggling financially. Just look at our need for a school back pack program, that we have half our students on the free or reduced school lunch program.”

Huisman said he would like the EDA, and other bodies like the County Board, to take a good look at this issue and bring it to the attention of Senator Julie Rosen and Rep. Bob Gunther.

Some of the EDA members asked where these figures came from, and whether all of Faribault County’s statistics were properly reported. Both Blue Earth city administrator Tim Ibisch and Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) director Tim Clawson said they would continue to check out the report.

Three Sisters update

In other business at the EDA meeting, Clawson gave up an update on the progress of Blue Prop LLC, and its owner Zac Huntley, investigating how the Three Sisters properties can be rehabbed.

Blue Prop LLC submitted a proposal for the buildings and was given 90 days to come up with finalized plans.

“He has contacted over 30 contractors and has only three or four who are interested,” Clawson said. “Until he has final numbers we will not know how it will piece together. He might be doing a building at a time.”

The end of the 90 day period is Sept. 21, Clawson added.

ELM Homes project

Clawson also reported the ELM Homes project is progressing well, with the walls and rafters in place.

“It is coming together quickly now, with the plumbers there,” Clawson said. “The site looks like a mess right now, but it will get cleaned up and they are expecting to have it done and at full occupancy by the end of the year.”

Other business

In other business at the meeting, the EDA board:

Learned that members of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) will be coming to tour Blue Earth on Sept. 20 as part of the city’s application to be selected for a new rural entrepreneur program site.

“We plan to invite a good number of people to this, from different committees, not just the EDA board,” Clawson said.

Approved the EDA budget for 2018, which will now be added to the city budget and submitted to the City Council for their approval.

Briefly discussed some property that is south of Wilson Field and north of 21st Street that is owned by the BEA School District, but took no action.

Clawson said it is a larger site that could be available if land is needed for a project in the future and said the EDA should “keep it on their radar.”