Archives for April 2012

Goodhue County Completes BR&E and Marketing Study

Article by Erin Sparks

At the 2010 Goodhue County Economic Development Summit there was a tremendous amount of discussion on continuing to develop and enhance connections between our leisure and hospitality businesses throughout the County.  In order to further this discussion and increase opportunity for cooperation within this industry sector, the Goodhue County Economic Development Authority conducted a business retention and expansion (BR&E) survey of the County’s leisure and hospitality businesses.  A BR&E survey is designed to “take the pulse” of a sector of business, as well as, identify any red-flag issues affecting the retention or expansion of the businesses within that sector.  The results of the survey, as reported at the 2011 Goodhue County Economic Development Summit, identified the difficulties facing Goodhue County’s leisure and hospitality businesses, and outlined a strategy to promote stability and growth in that sector now and into the future.

A major part of the strategy identified the need to create a county-wide marketing plan to promote the County’s key tourist attractions and the area as a whole. So in 2011 the Goodhue County EDA enlisted the help of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) to create the Goodhue County Tourism Marketing Strategy. The plan, which focuses on three key elements – collaboration, education and promotion, was sent out to city and county leaders in 2011 for review and discussion.

Chatfield Center for the Arts Continues to Progress

Article by Ron Zeigler

The Chatfield Center for the Arts, owned by the Chatfield Economic Development Authority and in partnership with many groups, continues to develop and once again become a facility of regional and economic significance.  Ownership of the property was transferred in February 2010.  Since that time, progress has been made to restore the facility.  19 major improvements to the facility have been made to date.

These improvements would not have been possible without the support and vision of the Chatfield Center for the Arts Advisory Committee.  To date, the Chatfield Center for the Arts has secured $3,212,171 in funding from 20 separate entities through grants and generous donations.  Additionally, there have been countless significant hours of labor donated by at least 11 community organizations.

The Center has also secured the services of a lobbyist to assist the project in gaining support at the Minnesota Capitol for state bonding dollars.  The Chatfield Center for the Arts sought funding in 2010 but was narrowly left of out the final conference bill due to political negotiations.  At the time this article was written, the Chatfield Center for the Arts was included in a final Senate bill for $2.2 million in state bonding dollars.  These dollars will be used for major updates and renovations to facility systems such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, weatherization, and also general renovations to the various rooms and grounds.

Improvements made to date have allowed for 68 individual events, including 21 individual performers.  Individual performers range from local artists such as the Chatfield Brass Band to international musicians such as Lorie Line.  16 other notable groups have also used the facility including U.S. President Barack Obama.

A broad array of users of the property has developed, resulting in approximately 10,000 people in Potter Auditorium and approximately 3,300 people in the American Legion Room in 2011.  Project dollars to date injected into the economy are just short of $700,000.  Utilizing a jobs factor of one job is created for every $20,000 worth of injection, the Center has assisted to create over 34 jobs in this short period of time.   Using a multiplier of a dollar turning over seven times, almost $5 million has been inject into the economy.

The economic impact to the local economy is real, as caterers, printers, advertisers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, concrete contractors, restaurants, boiler operators, garbage haulers, bakeries, liquor stores, grocers, motels, bed & breakfasts, and others have benefited from the Center.

The economic impact to the state’s economy is real, as contractors, musicians, and other professionals from St. Cloud, North Branch, Minneapolis, Rochester, Spring Grove, Edina, Oakdale, St. Paul, Lino Lakes, Plymouth, Pine River and others have benefited from the Center.

The Chatfield Center for the Arts is truly a significant economic, historic and arts project that will not only help to revitalize a community’s downtown, but a region as well.

Stewartville Spurs Historic Restoration of “Star Building”

Article by Chris Giesen

The City of Stewartville, led by the city Economic Development Authority recently sold the downtown property located at 102 Main Street, commonly known as the “Start Building” to Rochester developers Nels and Nicole Pierson.  The building is home to the Stewartville Star newspaper, has had residential tenants in the second floor apartment, and provides some storage for a third renter.

The City purchased the building nearly ten years ago as part of a downtown revitalization project.  There was another adjacent building to the south which was demolished.  The “Star Building” was to meet the same fate allowing for additional green space downtown.  For various reasons the plan did materialize and the city kept leasing the building to the Stewartville Star and other tenants.  After advertising the building for sale without any buyers, the EDA began to discuss options.

“The EDA really thought outside of the box to complete this project,” said Chris Giesen CEDA Business Development Specialist and EDA representative to Stewartville.  “The amount of TLC needed to fix this building and pay the purchase price seemed to be a little too much for most buyers,” he continued.  “But the EDA started talking about what the goals were concerning the building, and they decided that they had an opportunity to do something very positive with a highly visible building downtown.”

The EDA decided last October to advertise the property for sale “for as low as $1,” and requested any interested parties submit proposals to the EDA by the deadline.  Their goal was to reduce the purchase price so that a private developer could restore the building to its historical character and encourage similar investments from neighboring building owners.

After reviewing proposals, the EDA recommended that the City accept the proposal from the Pierson’s.  The City and Pierson’s negotiated various securities and the sale for $1 was complete in early March.  The Pierson’s plan for the building includes restoring the exterior’s historical appearance including replacing windows and restoring the front and side façade.  On the interior, they look forward to working with the existing tenants, while making improvements to the office space and restoring the historical detail that had been previously covered up.  The Pierson’s plan to remodel the residential space into an upscale loft while using the historically significant aspects of the building.  The Pierson’s recently completed a similar historic commercial property renovation with a similar building in downtown Rochester.


Dodge County EDA receives $5,000 AgStar Grant

Article by Chris Giesen

The Dodge County EDA recently was awarded a $5,000 grant from AgStar Financial to assist with a local food hub feasibility study.  Since the fall of 2011, an EDA subcommittee has been meeting to discuss locally produced foods (locally grown meaning foods produced on a regional basis for use by consumers typically within that particular region, on a small, seasonal scale) and local foods systems (meaning the process of how small scale, regional food producers produce, market, sell, and otherwise interact with their customers).

Some of the subcommittee members had discussions with Dodge County producers and University of Minnesota Extension analysts.  It was through these conversations that the group discovered there are likely higher demands for more locally produced foods; not only from individual consumers but institutional (school, hospital, senior facilities, etc…) consumers as well.

However it has been suggested by both producers and consumers that there are hurdles to overcome to fully link producers and consumers, especially producers with institutional consumers.  Some of these hurdles deal with having sufficient quantities or reliable sources of product.

Based on these conversations, the feasibility of a food hub was discussed.  A food hub is centralized warehousing facility that can collect and store product from producers and directly distribute them to consumers; typically larger or institutional consumers.

In order to determine if a food hub is feasible in the Dodge County region, a study needs to be completed to locate producers, existing and potential consumers, an asset mapping of Dodge County features, and a construct a rough business plan/financial projections in order to get a clearer picture of the need and opportunities.

It is anticipated that when the study returns a favorable result, local entrepreneurs can utilize the information determined in the study to support the establishment and financing of a food hub or related business in Dodge County, providing job creation and enhancing the tax base.  The Dodge County EDA thanks AgStar Financial for their commitment to projects in rural Minnesota.

CEDA Facilitates $30,000 for Harmony JEM Theatre

Article by Chris Giesen

Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) is excited to announce its partnership with the Trust for a Better Harmony to make $30,000 available to the Harmony JEM Movie Theater digital projector fund.  Acting as a third-party fiscal agent for the Trust, CEDA closed today on a $20,000 forgivable loan and $10,000 no-interest loan to the JEM Theater.  Funding from the Trust was made possible through a generous gift from the estate of Ms. Gladys Evenrud of Harmony.

The JEM Theater is located in downtown Harmony, MN.  It is a single-screen, family-run theater; one of only a handful in the country.  Because Hollywood is switching from film movies to digital movies, all theaters must switch to the digital format in order to show new movies.  The cost to convert is about $75,000; more than most small family-owned theaters can afford.

The JEM was able to locate very slightly used digital projection equipment from a larger theater in Iowa at a reduced cost of $55,000, plus some installation costs.

The $30,000 investment from the Trust for a Better Harmony, with the help of CEDA, was made with a challenge for the community: raise another $30,000.  To date, the theater has been able to raise nearly $30,000 in additional funds from other community donations.  All loan repayments from the JEM Theater to CEDA will be returned to the Trust for a Better Harmony for future community development projects.  Donations can be directed to First Southeast Bank, Harmony, MN, 507-886-6922.

CEDA Begins Providing City Administration Services in Lewiston

Article by Chris Giesen

Beginning in November 2011, Community and Economic Development Associates once again expanded a contract with an existing member community.  CEDA now provides city administrative services to the City of Lewiston, a long-time CEDA partner.

In early 2011, Lewiston was without a city administrator and was considering various options when they approached CEDA to help in the discussion.  Through the process, the various job duties were examined and different scenarios about staffing levels and qualifications were discussed at length.  Then, the committee members approached CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler to see if CEDA could provide a contracted individual for the position.  “My first thought was that our organization at the time didn’t have the expertise to take on this kind of contract,” said Zeigler.   “But as we discussed the possibilities, we began to see how this could be a model for a ‘city of the future,’” he continued.

CEDA and the City not only had to revise job duties and determine a cost, but they also had to figure out how to satisfy the duties of the City Clerk that are required by state law.  In the end, the city hired CEDA to provide 18 hours per week of city administrative functions and 40 hours per week of deputy clerk functions.  The city also hired a 6 hour per week city clerk to perform statutorily required duties.

CEDA welcomes their newest team members, Jennifer Hengel and Beth Carlson, who will be serving the Lewiston city administration contract.

Blooming Prairie Connects with Local Students

Article by Andrew Barbes

The Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Blooming Prairie Chamber of Commerce have been working with the local Public School System to help better the current relationship, between students grades 10-12 and the major manufactures in the community. The different manufactures and businesses in the community are always striving to find a good work force in skilled positions. The EDA and Chamber of Commerce are working together with the schools current work experience program, to let students see the inner workings of the different manufacturing facilities.

Rarely are the youth able to see there are many general and specialized jobs, where manufacturers are desperate to find quality workers right in their home town. Students may walk by the different manufacturer’s buildings every day, never really knowing what is going on inside or what the company does. It is our goal to have the students know manufacturing is a different working environment than years past, connect quality youth workers with local businesses and retain the communities population.

It is our hope that by taking these steps it will bring the community closer together where the citizens and manufacturers will have a better understanding for each other. Currently in the works is a tour of the different facilities where students will get a first hand experience with these major businesses.

Lake City Implements Facade Improvement Program

Article by Erin Sparks

The City Council has approved a new program put forth by the EDA entitled the Lake City Downtown Façade Improvement Program. This program allows downtown businesses (those located within the B-1 zoning district) to apply for grants of up to $10,000 to make appropriate façade improvements to buildings in downtown Lake City. These funds may be used for exterior repairs/improvements, exterior signage, code violation corrections, handicapped accessibility and energy efficiency improvements. Matching funds are required and may be in the form of equity, bank financing, etc. Limited funding is available and projects will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis. For additional information and program materials visit


Grand Meadow Prepares for Sesquicentennial Celebration

Article written by Michelle Vrieze

The City of Grand Meadow is busy preparing for their sesquicentennial celebration which will be held June 22 – 24, 2012, during “Meadowfest.”  Prior to this celebration, the EDA is hoping to complete further development of Veteran’s Memorial Park.  Grant applications have been written to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Alliant Energy for funds needed to complete the park.  With these funds, the EDA plans to complete the landscaping, build a picnic pavilion, purchase picnic tables, and trash receptacles.  $3,000 has been received from Wal-Mart, and the EDA is awaiting $10,000 in additional funding through the other applications recently submitted.

Also, the city website is getting a new look!  Created by students at Grand Meadow High School, the EDA will be awarding college scholarships to the students for their work.  You can check it out at

In other news, an updated business directory was created and printed for new residents.  Michelle Vrieze, Grand Meadow development coordinator and CEDA business development specialist welcomed Meadowlark Massage and Bodyworks to town, Grand Meadow’s newest business, and she mentioned that they are located in the Grand Meadow Business Center.