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BE EDA votes to replace Huisman

Mayor to appoint a new council rep

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Feb 14, 2021

The members of the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) voted at their Thursday morning meeting to have Blue Earth City Council member John Huisman removed from the EDA board and a new council person be appointed by the mayor to serve on the board.

The vote came after Huisman, as well as several other EDA members, addressed the issue of a letter written by 14 citizens to the KBEW radio station concerning removing a program featuring Bill O’Reilly.

Huisman was one of those who had signed the letter. He spoke first at the EDA meeting.

“It was clearly an error in judgment on my part,” Huisman told the EDA members. “I am very sorry for it and I apologize to each and every one of you. I also apologized to Ron Revere (KBEW manager) and Norm Hall (KBEW news director) after Monday night’s City Council meeting. I think it was their feeling, and I hope for this group too, that we can move forward now and try and be positive.”

Huisman also explained his desire has always been to promote economic development in Blue Earth, and described how he has worked on it in the past and said he wants to continue to do so.

EDA board member Ann Hanna read from a prepared statement and said she was surprised Huisman would be involved with something like this letter that was against everything the EDA board was working to promote.

“Mr. Huisman, as a representative of this board, needs to be held accountable for his actions,” Hanna said. “In my opinion, Mr. Huisman needs to step down from the EDA.”

Board member Bill Rosenau also had a prepared statement.

“John has been a great advocate for the community on boards he serves on,” Rosenau said. “The EDA’s goal is to support businesses, and I am very concerned how this looks to the community and reflects on the EDA. I’m afraid new businesses may see this, or some others may not come to the EDA for assistance.”

Rosenau ended by saying he felt Huisman should leave the EDA board.

“I accept your apology,” Rosenau told Huisman. “But that letter was contrary to our mission. You have done a lot for the community, but I feel it would be in the best interest of the EDA if the City Council replaced you on this board.”

Other EDA members agreed and the board then passed a motion to ask the mayor and the council to appoint a different council member to the EDA board. The vote was 5 to 1 with Huisman voting no.

In other business at Thursday’s early morning meeting, the EDA board:

• Approved a grant application from Huntington’s Barber Shop for half of the cost of replacing a door, up to $2,237.

• Reviewed another action which had been made during a special meeting on Feb. 1.

The EDA board had voted to guarantee a $10,000 loan from First Bank Blue Earth to El Tio Restaurant. The EDA Loan Review Committee had recommended approval of the loan guarantee.

• Approved a mission statement for the EDA, with one change which deleted a section on housing.

• Discussed an Economic Development Work Plan which included goals and priorities for attracting new businesses, supporting local businesses and others.

One topic had to do with promotion of Blue Earth through several means, including digital billboards around the state.

The EDA decided to wait until the next meeting to formally accept the work plan.

• Discussed a land purchase option on property located near the current Golden Spike Business Park, located north of Interstate 90.

The option expires next year and the board discussed various issues with the property, including waiting for a feasibility study before taking any action.

• Heard an update concerning the REV (Rural Entrepreneurship Venture) program which is a sub-group of the EDA.

Topics covered included a new REV website being created, and the continuing of podcasts dealing with interviews with local business persons.

• Hanna Haggarty, the new VISTA volunteer in Blue Earth, gave a report on a new possible designation for the city as a Telecommuter Forward! Community.

The certification could be beneficial in attracting businesses and work-at-home individuals to come to Blue Earth.

• Briefly discussed an update on helping with the possible transition and future sale of the Makotah Veterinary Center. No new action was taken.