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A Giant day in Blue Earth

By Staff | Apr 15, 2018

With the Green Giant looking on, this group of local dignitaries shoveled some rather muddy dirt at the official ground breaking ceremony last Wednesday morning. Pictured above, left to right are: Kara Drake - EDA board, John Hansen - CVB board, Mackenzie Abel (partially hidden) - Chamber board, Tim Ibisch - city administrator, Lowell and Vicky Steen - owners of Giant memorabilia, Paula Kabe - Chamber board, Corey Brunton - architect, Wes Brown - city engineer, Cindy Lyon - Chamber executive director, John Huisman - city councilman and EDA board, Mary Kennedy - EDA specialist, Kathy Johnson - CVB board and Building Committee, Lillian Robinson - Chamber board and Building Committee, Emily Hanson - Chamber board, Rick Scholtes - mayor of Blue Earth and EDA board, Shellie Poetter - Chamber administrative assistant, John Roper - county commissioner, Lori Nauman - CVB board, Jill Madtzke - Blue Earth Light & Water and Bruce Ankeny - CVB board.

As more than one speaker noted, it was a Giant day in Blue Earth last Wednesday.

The official ground breaking ceremony was held at 10 a.m. for the new Chamber of Commerce building that will house the Chamber office, a Tourist Information Center and the Green Giant Memorabilia Museum.

Several people spoke before the ceremony, including the representatives of various boards and groups which have helped work on the project.

Those included Chamber director Cindy Lyon, Chamber board president Lillian Robinson, mayor Rick Scholtes, city administrator Tim Ibisch, Mary Kennedy of the EDA, county commissioner John Roper, as well as the city engineer, the architect and the general contractor involved with the construction.

The idea of the new building has been several years in the making. It started when the Chamber was looking at replacing the Little Red Barn in Giant Park which currently serves as the tourist information center.

This sign at the property in front of Giant Park shows an architect’s rendition of what the new Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce office, visitor welcome center and Giant Museum will look like when it is completed later this summer.

From there it grew into a purchase of the old, empty former gas station building to the north of the Giant Park parking lot, and developing plans for an all new building.

The new building will come in at a cost of just under $1 million. When bids were let last month, the successful bidder was United Builders of Blue Earth.

Construction is expected to start as soon as the weather cooperates and the ground is ready.

Financing for the building comes from a variety of sources. The Chamber received a grant of $300,000 from the State Legacy Fund. The city of Blue Earth has stepped in and donated $200,000, and is going to finance the rest of the cost which the Chamber will be paying back in monthly lease payment installments, taking over full ownership of the facility when that amount is paid off.

In addition, the Chamber has done considerable fundraising for another large part of the cost, and Lyon says they will continue to do so.

Construction on the building is expected to take all summer, with completion estimated to be in August.

At that time the Chamber office, currently in the former police station, and the Giant Museum, now housed in the former fire hall, will make their move to their new location. So will the tourist information which will expand its space for souvenirs, with the move into the new building.

Nearly 50 people attended the ground breaking ceremony.