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BE EDA looks at expanding programs

Board members also introduced to Blue Earth’s new VISTA worker

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Jan 17, 2021

Blue Earth’s new VISTA worker, Hannah Haggarty, far left, with Community Workforce coordinator Emily Davis.

The Blue Earth Economic Development Authority started off 2021 with a look at several new ideas for the new year.

One of the top discussions centered on adding onto the Golden Spike Business Park on the north side of the city. Currently there are two lots in phase 1 of the park, with one of those having a purchase agreement in place.

The EDA board discussed the opportunities to expand the park, either to the south or the west of the current phase 1 area.

They voted to have staff proceed with developing an engineering feasibility study on the two areas.

Mayor Rick Scholtes, a member of the EDA board, said the south end has some underground work in place, while the west parcel would take more work.

Several members of the EDA had listed expanding – and filling – the Golden Spike Business Park as one of their major goals for 2021.

Another major goal was to assist with helping find a new veterinarian to take over the practice of Dr. Bogan.

EDA specialist Amy Schaeffer said she has been working hard on the project, but has been exhausting all possible leads and had talked to nearly every vet school in the midwest.

“I would like to propose something outside the box,” she said. “The idea is to host any prospects on a 24-hour wine and dine trip to Blue Earth.”

The EDA members expressed interest in having such an event, and gave Schaeffer the go ahead to bring back a full proposal at the next meeting.

At their meeting last Thursday morning the EDA board also had a chance to meet with Hannah Haggarty, the new VISTA worker for Blue Earth.

VISTA is a program of the AmeriCorps and stands for Volunteers in Service to America.

Blue Earth received a grant to have a VISTA worker here for one year. Haggarty will be working with Community Workforce coordinator Emily Davis, and will have an office at the Ag Center.

“The EDA acts as the fiscal agency for the grant funds,” city administrator Mary Kennedy told the board.

Haggarty is from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and has been active in the Peace Corps, until COVID-19 shut down her work overseas.

“Hannah is fluent in Spanish and will be helping us connect with our Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs and local businesses,” EDA specialist Schaeffer said. “She will also be translating some of our information sheets into Spanish for us.”

Also at the meeting, the EDA Board:

• Discussed an upcoming Strategic Planning Session for the EDA being hosted by CEDA.

• Heard from administrator Kennedy that she has been in discussions with Center for Specialty Care and that they will be moving into a smaller space at the Ag Center in the near future. The EDA owns the Ag Center.

• Learned that the Rural Entreprenuership Venture (REV) group has received a $5,000 grant from Bevcomm for developing a new website, and has been setting their goals for 2021.

They have also applied for a Compeer grant.

REV is now an official sub-committee of the EDA.

• Heard an update from Beth Kalis of the Rural Renaissance Project concerning the Three Sisters buildings in downtown Blue Earth.

She reported that work on developing the Project 3 Sisters has been progressing, some new members have been recruited, and they will soon have an office open at 120 S. Main Street, the mini-mall building.