Archives for December 2012

CEDA Authors over $1.5 Million in Small Cities Block Grant Funding Requests

Article by Michelle Vrieze

In November the CEDA staff authored over Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) Preliminary Proposals that could potentially bring $1.5 million in rehabilitation dollars to the Cities of Harmony, Spring Valley and West Concord.  The City of Harmony requested $497,200 of funds to rehab 20 housing units and the City of West Concord requested $547,000 to rehab 22 housing units which will benefit the low to moderate income households within designated target areas.  $539,750 was requested by the City of Spring Valley to rehab 14 rental units and 15 commercial buildings in their downtown business district.  These funds would have a large impact on the revitalization of these communities.

In December CEDA received notification from DEED that the Spring Valley application can continue through the process and that a full application should be submitted in February, 2013.

The SCDP program received 83 preliminary proposals of which 33 were selected to continue the application process.  DEED projects to award 25 projects with an estimated total of $14 million in grant funds.  These funds are very competitive as they continue to be reduced each year.

Historic City Hall goes up for Sale in Lewiston

Article by Chris Giesen

Over the course of 2012 the Lewiston EDA, City Council, and Planning and Zoning Commission developed a plan to sell the historic 1897 former city hall/fire station building in an effort to initiate downtown revitalization.  Having sat empty for a number of years since City Hall moved to its current location at the Community Center, it has become home for an eclectic assortment of historic Lewiston artifacts but because of a number of functional and accessibility issues, it is no longer useful as a public office building.

Inspired by a project successfully completed by the City of Stewartville, the EDA requested that the city council look at using the building as an economic development project.  “This really is a forward-thinking project.” Said CEDA Community and Economic Development Specialist and Lewiston EDA Executive Director Chris Giesen.  “Lewiston has many positive projects going on simultaneously, but none of them had included downtown, until this project.  Downtown has been a priority for the EDA, but its tools were limited.  This was something that could be done with present resources and could have a very positive impact on the community.”  Giesen continued.

The EDA is currently preparing to advertise the property’s availability, which has been set up as a “request for proposal” process.  The EDA is requiring that proposals be made outlining any restoration, end use, materials used, and other aspects that an interested party would undertake should their plan be chosen.  The EDA will consider the future plans for the site and potentially sell the building for as low as $1 if the general character of the project is in the best interest of the city.  Interested parties are encouraged to contact Lewiston City Hall at 507-523-2257 for more information. 

Lewiston Lays Groundwork for New Recreation Area

Article by Chris Giesen

The Lewiston EDA recently began plans to put an interesting twist on the future of its former waste water ponds.  The EDA, with assistance from CEDA, began discussing options after the decision to decertify the waste water ponds was made certain by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and reports from the public that unusual birds had been sighted making the ponds home, drawing dozens of bird watchers from around the region after the bird sightings were reported on the internet.

“The question was, if these ponds are no longer going to be used by the city for waste water treatment and now there are rare birds that people are coming to see, how can we turn this into an opportunity to grow the community?”  said CEDA Community and Economic Development Specialist and Lewiston Economic Development Director Chris Giesen.  “Plus, this area would lend itself nicely to the recreational trail plan that Lewiston is developing.”  he continued.

Currently the Winona Soil and Water Conservation District has a native prairie planting on the approximately 40 acre site, but plans are underway to preserve the mud flats that attract the unusual Plover shorebird (which looks similar to a Killdeer) and possibly add other recreational features like walking trails and picnic areas.

The project is a joint effort between the Lewiston EDA, City Council, Winona Soil and Water Conservation District, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  “We also hope to start collaborating with the Lewiston-Altura School District and other service organizations like the Lewiston Sportsman’s Club.” said Giesen.

Continued Growth Brings New Faces to Chatfield, Dodge County, and Lewiston

CEDA has continued to experience growth the past few years and with that growth brings some changes.  CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler will be expanding opportunities for continued growth at the company and Community and Business Development Specialist Chris Giesen will be taking over Ron’s day-to-day responsibilities with the Chatfield EDA two days a week.  This move also prompted a new hire to fill in the Lewiston EDA’s one day per week CEDA contract.  CEDA welcomes Community and Business Development Specialist Brian Moehnke as he takes over Chris’ role in Lewiston.  In addition, Community and Business Development Specialist Andrew Barbes will be taking over Chris’ responsibilities with the Dodge County EDA, serving a one day per week contract.

Stewartville EDA Continues to Work Today for Tomorrow’s Benefit

The Stewartville Economic Development Authority continues to look forward and invest in the community.  “With FedEx Ground building a 60,000 square foot distribution center in the Schumann Business Park, Rochester Medical adding an additional 50,000 square foot building, and many other smaller but positive happenings in Stewartville over the last year the EDA wants to make sure the community is ready for continued growth.” said Community and Business Development Specialist and the Stewartville EDA’s CEDA representative.  “Right now the EDA is focusing on marketing the community.  They want to take advantage of all the positive press that’s being generated by recent FedEx and Rochester Medical expansion news.  The EDA is also looking at future residential needs that will result from the 100 or more new jobs in town over the next 18 months or so.”  Giesen continued.

To help spur additional private interest in city economic development properties, the EDA established a finder’s fee for licensed real estate brokers when they bring a client to the EDA that results in the sale of a city-owned economic development property.  Qualifying brokers can receive up to 5% of the final sale price of the land.

In addition to marketing, the Stewartville EDA also recently renegotiated its development agreement with Henry and Luella Schumann.  The agreement will continue the city’s unique development role in the Schumann Business Park for another four years.

Stewartville Saves Funds with help from CEDA

Used with permission
Article by Mark Peterson, Editor
Stewartville Star, October 9, 2012

Thanks to Chris Giesen, the city of Stewartville will save a considerable amount of money beginning in 2013.

Giesen, a business development specialist for Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) of Chatfield, discovered a state statute that allows cities to exempt properties from real estate taxes if the city’s primary purpose is to sell the property for commercial development.  Barb Neubauer, city finance director, said that by taking advantage of the statute, the city of Stewartville will save $32,000 to $35,000 per year beginning next year.  That’s because the city will no longer have to pay real estate taxes on:

  • five unsold lots in the Schumann Business Park.
  • one and a half lots near First American Insurance Services on Main Street.
  • land near the city’s north water tower near Southern Hills.

“It’s very good news,” Neubauer said.  “It’s not a well-known statute.  Thanks to Chris Giesen, we were able to do more research.”  After Neubauer heard the news from Giesen, she did a little research of her own, calling Mark Krupski, the head of the Olmsted County Assessor’s Department.  “He researched it and said that yes, we can now do that,” Neubauer said.  Giesen works with the city’s Economic Development Authority and city staff in an effort to attract more businesses to Stewartville.  He works one day per week in Stewartville.

Harmony Receives $11,000 in Grants for Park Equipment Upgrade

Article by Chris Giesen

When the Harmony Park Board decided to upgrade out-of-date playground equipment at Selvig Park, the Harmony EDA stepped up to help assist with grant writing.  EDA staff led by CEDA helped the park board secure $5,000 from the Harmony Area Community Foundation, another $5,000 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, and $1,000 from the Wal-Mart Foundation for its $53,000 project.

Unique Harmony Program Sparks over $400,000 in Commercial Investment

Article by Chris Giesen

A unique program started in 2009 by the Harmony Economic Development Authority has more than doubled the city’s investment of $190,000.  “The program ends this December so the exact results of the program aren’t finalized yet, but we’re on track to have the total investment of all projects surpass $420,000 when it wraps-up.”  Reports CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist and economic development coordinator for the Harmony EDA Chris Giesen.

The program he is referring to is the Harmony Commercial Rehabilitation Program.  Started with surplus funds from a tax increment financing district started in the late 1980s, the city council allotted $150,000 to capitalize the fund.  Once the EDA developed guidelines and did some initial marketing, the program became so popular that the initial investment was used up before the program was slated to end in December 2012, so the city council and EDA allowed additional projects to apply on a case-by-case basis totaling an additional $40,000 (approximate).

The program guidelines were simple: the EDA would match, dollar for dollar, eligible expenses up to $10,000.  Dollars invested through this program were structured as 5 year forgivable loans, so that if the building that received funding wasn’t sold within 5 years the owners would not have to repay any of the funds they had received.  Eligible expenses included siding, roof work, windows, doors, signage, awnings, foundation work, exterior brick work, exterior energy efficiency improvements, accessibility issues, and exterior code violation corrections, among others.  The EDA also allowed non-eligible interior repairs such as HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and other major remodeling projects to be used towards applicant’s program match.

“This program was able to help many, many business owners in Harmony with much needed repairs and improvements,” said Giesen.  “It also helped a lot of business owners spruce up the exterior appearance of their building.”  He continued, “The most interesting part was that even though the EDA didn’t have a ‘buy local’ requirement in the program policy, about 90% of all funds spent [through this program] were spent with other Harmony businesses and businesses that support the Harmony community.”

CEDA Completes Feasibility Study for Assisted Living Center

Article by Andrew Barbes

CEDA recently completed a feasibility study which examined preliminary market potential for theexpansion of the Howard Residential Care Facility (HRCF) Patty Elwood Center in Howard County, Iowa, just outside of Cresco. Currently, the HRCF provides long term residential care and 24-hour respite services for short-term needs.  The study completed by CEDA presented an overview of the demographic and economic characteristics while determining the needs and capacities of the defined market area.  The needs and capacities were calculated based on demographic, economic and competitive considerations that impacted the total demand for Alzheimer’s and dementia care.  Also included in the study was an analysis of competition and local needs.  A comprehensive overview of the current financial structure, types of care, services and a recommendation were given.

Happy Holidays from Howard County Business & Tourism!

Article by Jason Passmore

Those of us here at the office would like to express our gratitude to all of our many members and especially to our many Board and Committee members. We are not able to accomplish much without the help of these many volunteers, and in looking back at another year almost gone by, much was accomplished indeed in 2012. Just a sampling of some highlights from this past year include:

  • HCBT was able to work with 11 different businesses (new and existing) and supply $581,000 in revolving loan funds creating 42 new jobs and retaining another 64 jobs over the next two years. These are made possible by our primary lenders paving the way.
  • Over 40 unique innovative entrepreneurs ranging from the individual employer to businesses with over 25 employees sat down with HCBT staff to chart paths of starting a new adventure or growing their current business.
  • 17 passionate new Chamber members were added to the team this past year.
  • HCBT has written over $2,600,000 of new housing applications and saved local contractors almost $350,000 of sales tax refunds and tax credit savings this year through the Enterprise Zone program.
  • Community events, again only made possible by numerous volunteers, were host to record crowds at Harvest Fest, Fly-In Breakfast, Bowling Mixers and the recent Chamber/CIDC Banquet.

The list could go on but from HCBT know that only through your partnerships is anything possible. Have a wonderful Christmas season!

Jason Passmore
Executive Director, HCBT