Archives for September 2018

CEDA and Partners Share Progress on Southeastern Minnesota Economic Study

Article by: Chris Giesen

It hasn’t been any secret that there has been a lot of development excitement in southeast Minnesota the past few years. In 2017, the State of Minnesota appropriated $275,000 to CEDA to study the effects of the growth potential that is projected throughout the region.

This project was spurred by the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM) member cities who were wondering what the anticipated growth meant for them. Rather than each city paying for its own economic forecast or simply going without the proper planning tools, the cities tasked SEMLM with pursuing a state funded study that would fully examine economies from a local and regional perspective across eight counties in southeastern Minnesota.

More specifically the study would analyze the: (1) current and projected economic, fiscal, and demographic effects and issues; (2) direct and indirect costs and benefits; (3) positive and negative effects, including effects upon workforce, taxation, and transportation; and (4) economic challenges and opportunities for economic growth or diversification.  Because SEMLM, administratively, is a small organization with limited resources to dedicate to such a project, they brought on CEDA to help manage the project and act as the fiscal agent.  CEO/President Ron Zeigler and Vice President Chris Giesen have been assisting SEMLM Executive Director Brenda Johnson with this unique and important project.

 

After a search that drew interest from local, national, and international firms, CEDA and SEMLM hired the consulting group HR&A Advisors, Inc. to be the lead consultants on the project in December 2017.  Officially, the project kicked-off in January 2018 and is projected to conclude in the fall of 2018.  A final report is due to the Minnesota Legislature in February 2019.

 

On August 15, 2018 about 75 representatives from cities, counties, regional and community-focused organizations gathered at the Chatfield Center for the Arts Historic Potter Auditorium in Chatfield, Minnesota to listen and provide input on the draft report.  Attendees reviewed high level findings of existing economic forecasts which are thought to be too conservative and do not include new project initiatives in the region such as Destination Medical Center (DMC) or the sharp growth in our region’s tourism industry and the study’s preliminary, updated economic forecasts.

 

Ultimately the project is creating an updated forecast model focused specifically on the eight county region by utilizing existing data and conservative forecasts as well as information gathered from 26 participating cities and all eight of the region’s counties during a series of focus groups, phone, and email interviews.  Additional focus groups and interviews were held with representatives from regional organizations such as CEDA, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Southeast Minnesota Together, Journey to Growth, Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc., and development organizations from the La Crosse, Wisconsin area.  This updated model will generate detailed economic data at a county level which can then be translated to the local municipal level to estimate growth, population, jobs, housing, and much more.

 

In addition, participants reviewed the results of several specific initiatives that were tested using this new forecast model which looked at “what-if” scenarios.  The specific initiatives included housing, migration/immigration, child care, transportation, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture.  Participants reviewed what could be possible “if” different goals were set or unmet and “what” the opportunities or consequences might be.

 

In the afternoon a smaller group of participants listened to representatives from the software company that is providing the forecasting model for this project and discussed potential uses of this software and model moving into the future locally, after the study is complete.   There are some 6,000 potential variables that can be tapped to study our region and how it works together or how different initiatives can multiply and have a ripple effect across southeastern Minnesota.

 

The final report and data sets will be available free of charge to all cities to utilize once the final project is complete.

CEDA Team Member in Cold Spring, MN is Collaborating to Create Resume and Interview Skills Course

Article by: Reva Mische

The City of Cold Spring’s Economic Development Authority (CSEDA), in partnership with the ROCORI School District’s Community Education Department and the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce, put together a Resume and Interview Skills Course to be offered on October 9th.  CEDA team member Reva Mische who serves the City of Cold Spring proposed and helped design this course which will discuss what to include in a resume and cover letter, how to prepare for an interview, and what to do once the interview is over. In an effort to strengthen the area workforce, this event will reach a demographic that may not otherwise have access to these offerings. There will be childcare available and the School District’s Cultural Liaisons will be available to offer assistance to Spanish-speaking attendees. Chamber President Kathy Faust, Branch Manager of the Central Minnesota Credit Union, has volunteered to lead the presentation/discussion, and Chamber volunteers will be available to help with resume help/questions after the course.

Strengthening collaboration and partnerships with are organizations has been a priority of the CSEDA’s since bringing CEDA and Mische onboard. Mische hopes this will be just the beginning of an offering like this, and is impressed with the momentum she has gained through partnering with the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce and ROCORI School District.

CEDA Helps Fillmore County, MN EDA Organize New Business After Hours Series

Article by: Marty Walsh

The Fillmore County Economic Development Authority (EDA) held their first Business After Hours event at the new Beaver Bottom Saloon in Fountain, MN on July 24th. The event was an opportunity for businesses and community developers from communities across the County to network and engage with others, with the ultimate goal of deepening the connection of the EDA to a broad base of businesses.

CEDA team member Marty Walsh, who serves the Fillmore County EDA, worked to identify a central location in the county in a community without an existing business networking organization, which would also be likely to attract a wide range of people for a first time event. The ability to support a brand new business in the county, Beaver Bottom Saloon was an added benefit and attraction. The initial invite list was primarily derived from existing partners and contacts in the community, with the intent to provide a good base for a regular, quarterly program to grow from.
In the long term, the objective of the Business After Hours event will be to highlight businesses in the smaller communities of the county, build networks between businesses that may otherwise be separated by geography, and create a pipeline for EDA projects, both those that emerge from the community and need help, or those that come in the form of state or regional programs seeking participants. Anyone interested in joining the next Fillmore County After Hours event should e-mail Marty Walsh at [email protected] and ask to be placed on the Business After Hours mailing list.