Archives for February 2017

Spring Valley Hosts Presentation from U of M Extension

Article by: Cathy Enerson

CEDA Community and Economic Development Specialist Cathy Enerson recently organized a presentation by Liz Templin of the University of Minnesota Extension to the Spring Valley EDA, the local chamber, tourism board, and area community members on a comprehensive retail gap analysis for the community. In addition to the presentation, the community meeting allowed local organizations to provide updates on their most recent activities.

The purpose of the retail gap analysis is to explore the health of retail sales in the community, identify trends, threats and opportunities for businesses with the focus on Spring Valley and its customer base of 13,371 area residents. The presentation highlighted information on customers, which included demographics, commuting patterns and lifestyles. The information can be used for future business plans, local expansions, and new business start-ups. “I will tell you, I have done this presentation in other communities and it doesn’t look this good in a lot of communities,” Templin commented. “I think you can feel, from my perspective, proud of the diversity and mixes that you have here.”

EDA President Dave Phillips stated that “the EDA provides many tools for attracting and retaining businesses in the community and these tools have led to things such as the downtown revitalization, the expansion and retention of businesses, succession planning, new housing, an important tool we can provide is information”. Dave indicated that “in 2016 the EDA completed two child care surveys, showing that there was a need for more options in Spring Valley and that has led to a joint venture that may bring a center here if everything falls into place.”

CEDA and LeRoy, MN EDA Improve Transportation Options for the Community

Article by: Axel Gumbel and Sherry Hines

The LeRoy Economic Development Authority (EDA) is boldly going where not many small town EDAs may have gone before – by launching a public bus service.

The service launched on December 1, 2016 and consists of one trip daily (morning/evening) to and from Rochester with stops in Grand Meadow, at Saint Mary’s Hospital, downtown Rochester and Walmart south (if needed).

What triggered the EDA to get into the bus business was the discontinuation of a long-standing LeRoy/Grand Meadow route in November of 2014. A group of Mayo Clinic employees then organized a van pool through a rented Enterprise passenger van. This van pool also was discontinued in September of 2015. That’s when the LeRoy EDA began discussions on how to bring back a public bus service with all members agreeing that a public transit connection to southeast Minnesota’s economic hub was vital to the continued appeal and survival of LeRoy.

Initially, EDA board members, LeRoy City Clerk, and CEDA staff member Sherry Hines attempted to work with existing bus companies to re-establish the LeRoy/Grand Meadow route, but it quickly became evident that such a route is not attractive or easily profitable for any larger bus company. That’s when EDA members and staff began entertaining the seemingly impossible idea of purchasing their own bus and operating the service.

As luck would have it, one of the companies the EDA and Hines met with, Minnesota Coaches, supported this effort, in part because the company owner had family ties to LeRoy and very much liked the idea of supporting their old hometown. Minnesota Coaches also had a used 31-passenger bus for sale. After EDA members traveled to the Twin Cities to inspect the bus, developed possible budget scenarios and explored the necessary local support structure for maintenance, drivers, etc., the group decided to take the plunge and purchased the bus.

A whirlwind of activity then took place in November 2016, when the EDA developed promotional materials (flyers, website, Facebook site) and a schedule, hired drivers and set a name and budget for the new service. LeRoy City Lines went into service at 6:30 a.m. on December 1, 2016.

Another crucial factor for the success of this new service was Mayo Clinic’s decision to support LeRoy City Lines passengers (who are Mayo employees) with an up to $80 bus pass subsidy per month. The success of LeRoy City Lines will depend greatly on Mayo employees using the service. However, since the EDA owns the bus and employs the drivers, the group also is offering the bus for charter trips during the day or on weekends and wants to promote this opportunity around the region.

Three months into the new service, the response has been very positive.


CEDA Helps Red Wing Business Obtain $100,000 in Loans from Small Cities Development Program

Article by: Michelle Vrieze

The Red Wing HRA and CEDA Director of Grants Michelle Vrieze have helped improve several commercial buildings in Red Wing through the Small Cities Development Program.  Kelly’s Tap House, owned and operated by Rick and Kelly Anderson, is another wonderful example of how the program is intended to work.  The building was built in 1906 and has been under renovation since 2010.  The Anderson’s have received two Small Cities Development Program loans totaling $100,000 through the help of Red Wing HRA and Vrieze along with investing over $265,000 in private funds and a loan from Merchants Bank. Vrieze works with the business through the application process to help them put all of their information together then is involved throughout the construction project to ensure all the criteria of the Small Cities Program are met.

With these funds the owners were able to: do a new kitchen addition, new siding, add stucco and rock on the exterior, replace windows and doors, upgrade furnace and A/C units, install handicap accessible restrooms, replace the upper deck and outside dining/deck area and upgrade the electrical service.  The renovations help the business remain competitive by allowing the Anderson’s to offer an inviting atmosphere and a full service menu to their customers.

50% of the Small Cities funds are deferred and the other 50% is paid back to the Red Wing HRA at 0% interest over a 10 year term.  The funds that are repaid are then used to rehab additional commercial buildings in Red Wing.

Marketing in the Morning Business Breakfasts to Continue in 2017

Due to its success in 2016, CEDA’s quarterly business breakfast educational series is returning in 2017. The first event for 2017 will take place on Wednesday, February 22nd at the Spring Grove Cinema from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m.

The series kicked off on early 2016 with the goal of bringing local business leaders together over breakfast for a short, informative presentation from area marketing professionals on different topics to assist in their marketing efforts and also provide a forum for them to network with one another.

In 2016, CEDA hosted these events in Stewartville, St. Charles, Lake City, and Spring Valley. Each of the events saw between 40 and 50 attendees, and this viewed as a wonderful success by the organization.

The Spring Grove event will feature Kristina Hesby of Hesby Professional Services presenting on how to leverage Facebook for your business marketing strategy. Also, thanks to Spring Grove Communications, all attendees will receive not only valuable networking opportunities and marketing information, but also each will be given 2 FREE movie passes to Spring Grove Cinema!

Register HERE

CEDA Excited to Serve Byron, MN in 2017

In January 2017, CEDA team member Amanda Leightner began working with Byron Economic Development Authority to provide economic development services to the City.

Leightner will serve the Byron community two days per week.

“It’s an exciting year for Byron as the city celebrates its sesquicentennial” Leightner said, “I am looking forward to being a part of it!”

To mark the sesquicentennial milestone and celebrate the amenities in Byron, one of the highly-anticipated projects that will be focused on is a fresh, comprehensive marketing campaign. This project will include the creation of a hashtag that embodies the culture and lifestyle of Byron. This new venture will involve collaboration between the Byron EDA, Byron Public School System, and the Byron Chamber of Commerce.


CEDA Helps Secure $1.78 Million Broadband Grant Funding

Article by: Ryan Yetzer

On January 11, 2017, AcenTek, the Voice, Video and Internet provider out of Houston, MN, was awarded a $1.78 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to extend fiber broadband access to the rural Lanesboro area. The CEDA team was able to play an instrumental role in securing this funding by drafting AcenTek’s Boarder to Boarder Broadband Grant application. CEDA utilized their economic development services contract with Fillmore County to facilitate a valuable partnership between the CEDA grant writers, Fillmore County’s EDA, and AcenTek.

“Extending broadband services to rural communities is an important project for southeast Minnesota. AcenTek was an outstanding partner to work with, and we couldn’t be happier that they were chosen to receive funding” said CEDA’s Ryan Yetzer who was the primary author of the successful grant application.

Of the 42 projects awarded State funding, only 3 projects were awarded a larger dollar amount. This project will allow AcenTek to extend fiber broadband services to the rural Lanesboro area, including sections of the City of Whalan, Carrolton Township, and Holt Township.

This project will provide world class broadband speeds to 431 household, 42 businesses, and one community anchor institution, all of which are currently considered “unserved” by State standards. AcenTek’s project is a great example of a public-private partnership–the State of Minnesota is contributing $1.78 million, Fillmore County is contributing $75,000, and AcenTek is picking up the remaining $2.8 million through private investment, for a total project investment of $4.68 million. This project is expected to be completed by mid-2018.