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County EDA 2020 grants at $558,000

Makes Food & Fuel loan; grant to BE’s T&C Players

By Chuck Hunt - Editor | Mar 28, 2021

The Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) board granted a $50,000 loan to the owner of the Food ‘n’ Fuel in Minnesota Lake during their meeting last Tuesday afternoon. The owner, Ryan Murphey, has a large variety of improvements planned for the station, including new gas pump canopy, a large addition to the building, increased food items and an outside ATM machine, necessary since the bank had closed.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic – and to an extent because of it – the Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) had a big year in 2020.

The 2020 Annual Report was presented to the board at their regular monthly meeting held last Tuesday, March 23.

The EDA granted over half a million dollars in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to local Faribault County businesses and organizations.

“We had 114 applications for CARES Act grants in round 1 of the grants, and 86 applications in round 2,” EDA specialist Annie Nichols reported to the board. “Of those we had 136 grants funded.”

In addition the EDA offered a loan forgiveness program to businesses who had a previous loan from the EDA. The forgiveness covered principal loan payments from March to December 2020 for seven loan clients. The interest portion of the payments was deferred until the end of the loan period, which allowed businesses to use their funds for necessary operating costs that were still incurred during the pandemic, Nichols explained.

The total of loan forgiveness was $33,200.

The EDA also looked at one new grant and one new loan during the meeting.

The grant application came from the Blue Earth Town & Country Players.

“This application was mistakenly put in the denied file, because it was thought they did not have any costs associated with not having plays,” Nichols said. “Brian Roverud contacted me and explained they did incur over $2,600 in insurance and storage fees.”

The group was requesting the same amount as other non-profits had received, an average of $950.

The CARES Act funding had all been disbursed, however a motion was made to fund the request, using CARES Act funds set aside for paying the CEDA EDA specialist contract.

One board member was not in favor of granting the request.

“I think this opens the door to others who were denied,” EDA member and county commissioner Bill Groskreutz said. “I’m opposed to it.”

The motion passed with Groskreutz voting no.

The loan application was from Ryan Murphey, who in 2020 purchased the Minnesota Lake Food ‘n’ Fuel.

He has plans to improve the building with additional space for more convenience food items, put a canopy over the fuel pumps, replace the car wash system and add an outside ATM machine.

He had secured other financing but was originally asking the EDA for a $75,000 loan, at 3.5 percent interest, over 10 years.

The EDA board approved a $50,000 loan at the same terms, as $50,000 is the maximum they loan out on the Commercial/Industrial Loan Fund program. It was also the amount recommended by the EDA Loan Review Committee.

In other business at last Tuesday’s meeting, the Faribault County EDA board:

• Discussed having a summer intern work with the EDA specialist.

Nichols reported the summer intern could help with organizing all of the EDA’s files from previous years.

“There are some files in various places in the courthouse, and some are here at our office,” Nichols said. “And it is not very organized.”

The issue is probably due to having had different agencies in charge of the EDA files over the years, she explained.

The cost of an intern was estimated to be $8,000 and is not in the EDA budget, although there is about $4,000 which could come from unused funding.

A suggestion was made to check if the County Board has any budgeted funds which could be allocated for this program.

• Looked over the Goal Setting and Priority Plan and started to prioritize the list.

• Discussed applying along with the County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) for a Strengthening Rural Communities grant from the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

• Heard Nichols report that she is working with the city of Wells in finding different ways the city can assist the owners of Jake’s Pizza with financing for rebuilding their building after a roof collapse last month.