Archives for November 2018

CEDA Helps Kasson, MN to Offer New Business Facade Improvement Program

Article by: Stephanie Lawson

The work of business retention and attraction is critical to the local economy in Kasson,MN driving growth for the local tax base and expanding the employment opportunities, services, and amenities that residents depend on and desire.  With aspirations to bring new opportunities, businesses and economic vibrancy to the community the Kasson Economic Development Authority (EDA) is working to grow the local economy from within by promoting entrepreneurship and small business development through the establishment of a Business Facade Improvement Program.

The Program, with guidelines authored by CEDA team member Stephanie Lawson, has been established to encourage and support business owners who are interested in restoring their existing properties; ultimately enhancing and improving the visual aesthetics of the community.  When authoring the guidelines Lawson, along with her Board, reviewed similar programs offered by other CEDA communities, taking those concepts and tailoring them to fit the City of Kasson’s businesses and their growing needs.

“With an anticipated $20,000.00 designation for 2019 we [the City and EDA] are pleased to offer this tool as a part of our economic development efforts,” said Councilperson Dan Eggler.  “We are confident that the assistance being offered here will be advantageous for our existing businesses.”

The program is set to launch after the first of the year!

Completed Southeastern Minnesota Economic Study Released

Article by: Chris Giesen

On October 9th, 2018 the Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities (SEMLM) and CEDA released a study with an updated economic forecast for southeast Minnesota which included options for several major policy shifts to accommodate population and employment growth over the next 25 years. Among the policy options and recommendations are zoning changes to support greater housing production, expanded transportation networks, a regional tourism strategy, immigrant support resources, and programs to increase access to childcare – all designed to grow the region’s economic development potential.

The study – the first of its kind in the region – forecasts long-range population, employment, and economic activity in the entire Southeastern Minnesota region, on a county-by-county basis. The region, comprised of Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties, encompasses 77 municipalities, with more than 368,000 residents and 190,000 employees.

“If you want to manage growth effectively, you have to have that information,” says Brenda Johnson, Executive Director of SEMLM.

The SEMLM asked CEDA to assist with the project by acting as a fiscal agent, project administration, and technical expertise.  In 2017, the legislature appropriating $275,000 to CEDA.  SEMLM and CEDA then solicited consulting firms in a search that drew international interest that could provide the expertise and tools to make this project happen.  Receiving proposals for 9 firms, CEDA assisted in the proposal review and ultimate selection of the consultant group HR&A Advisors, Inc. of New York.  Working closely with SEMLM and HR&A throughout the course of the project CEDA also completed all of the required state paperwork and reporting that is tied to legislative appropriations such as this.

“CEDA is very proud to have partnered with the Southeast Minnesota League of Municipalities on this important project for this Region.  Not very often does an opportunity come along to complete the in-depth research that the Legislature authorized to be analyzed.  The Legislature saw the vision that this information can provide. This information will be a valuable resource for municipalities and counties, regardless of size, to help guide their future decision-making processes.  We look forward to continuing to make SE Minnesota a great place to live, work, recreate and do business!” said CEDA President/CEO Ron Zeigler.

“Southeast Minnesota is lucky to have the leadership of SEMLM.  Their members saw a need for this study and will be able to utilize this information in their local and regional planning efforts.   This type of project has never been done before in our region but in order to plan wisely for growth, especially with all of the current economic activity, access to data is critical” added CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen who along with Zeigler made up the CEDA project team.

Among the study’s key findings and related recommendations are:

The population of Southeastern Minnesota is projected to grow by more than 50,000 over the next 25 years. To support this population growth, the region will require an additional 14,000 housing units above the current pace of housing production. A combination of policy changes – including allowing for accessory dwelling units and more density in key downtowns – can be enacted at the municipal-, county-, or state-levels to meet this need. Local officials will determine which solutions make sense for their communities, allowing each community to determine their own course of action.

Regional employment is forecasted to grow by 44,000 by 2040. With 10,000 existing unfilled jobs, the study proposes a series of initiatives to support the region’s existing and growing employment base. By expanding regional transit improvements, there is an opportunity to better match people to jobs throughout Southeastern Minnesota, connecting residential areas to job centers and distributing residential growth throughout the region. The study also proposes that increased access to childcare can improve access to jobs. Entities throughout the region can support the development and operation of childcare centers, and employers can be encouraged to offer services to support families with children. Finally, by supporting the region’s growing immigrant population, which grew from 4.2% in 2009 to 6.4% in 2016, the region can increase labor supply and opportunities for innovation. Southeastern Minnesota can continue to support international migrants with the formalization of existing immigrant services.

Tourism is growing in the region. Supplementing specific employment growth opportunities, the study considers additional initiatives and economic development circumstances facing the region. Given Minnesota’s growing tourism industry, with annual sales at tourism-related businesses growing by 41% between 2005 and 2015, and the strength of the industry in the region, supporting more than 16,000 jobs today, the study proposes that Southeastern Minnesota develop a regional tourism strategy to grow economic opportunities in the industry.

The region’s high health care premiums, relative to elsewhere in the state, may have economic development implications, impacting the region’s ability to competitively attract and retain businesses. The study also reflects on shifting trends in the region’s major industries, including agriculture and manufacturing. By solving for other challenges facing the region described above, however, the study postulates that the region can solve for these challenges.

The full study and data outputs can be found on the SEMLM’s website at www.semlm.org.

$375,000 CEDA-Authored Minnesota Investment Fund Award Received by Chatfield, MN for EZ Fabricating Expansion

Article by: Chris Giesen

The City of Chatfield, MN was recently notified that their application to the DEED Minnesota Investment Fund was fully awarded in support of an expansion of a local manufacturer, EZ Fabricating.  The award will grant $375,000 to Chatfield to then lend to EZ Fabricating with very favorable terms which will allow the business to add approximately 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space and create 17 new full time jobs at an average wage of $19.06.  CEDA team member Chris Giesen who serves the City of Chatfield was able to successfully author this application which gives the business a 1% fixed interest rate on a 15 year loan, and if the job and wage goals are met, $255,000 of loan will be forgiven by the state.

“This was exciting news; we’re so happy to see EZ Fabricating continue to grow especially because they do a lot of work for other businesses in our CEDA communities” said Giesen. “We had to really hustle on this application because the business had a client that was willing to give them significant new business but only if EZ Fabricating could meet their production goals, which required adding on to their building, right now.  The Company needed to start construction before winter or risk losing this new business.” He added “these applications can be very complex with a lot of moving parts, and can take a considerable amount of time to complete.  However, we were able to work with the business owners to get the required application materials together, hold the necessary public hearings, make all the approvals, and submit a full application in about two and half weeks. DEED was also very helpful in answering questions, coordinating the process, and even sped up their normal review process for us so that we could keep the owner on track to start building.”

In addition to the state program the City of Chatfield also approved a $25,000 loan to EZ Fabricating with a 1% fixed rate for a 10 year term.  This expansion is the second expansion CEDA assisted EZ Fabricating with, in 2013, Giesen assisted the business with a major expansion that resulted in several additional grant awards to assist the business as it built a new facility in Chatfield.  In this previous expansion, the Company met its job and wage goals within two months of finishing their expansion instead of the two years they were allowed.  For its help on the 2013 project, CEDA was nominated by partner F&M Community Bank and received a 2nd place “Strong Community” award from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.

CEDA Team Member Helps Cold Spring, MN Revamp Revolving Loan Fund

Article by: Reva Mische

At their September meeting, the City of Cold Spring’s Economic Development Authority (CSEDA) approved updated guidelines and application documents for their Revolving Loan Fund! These documents and their corresponding research were completed by CEDA team member Reva Mische with an important review and editing process by City Administrator Brigid Murphy and the EDA.

After months of research and review, Mische and the CSEDA are happy to get the word out to area businesses. While the purpose of the Revolving Loan Fund remains unchanged, the revamped guidelines and application documents are intended to be more “user friendly” to encourage new and existing businesses to take advantage of the Fund. These updates come after years without applications for Revolving Loan Fund dollars.

Mische notes the importance of knowing about the source of the Revolving Loan Fund as these funds can have different sources. With this comes a set of reporting requirements unique to the funding source. For Cold Spring, their Revolving Loan Fund originated from a Federal Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) grant. Once the EDA understood what requirements were tied to the Loan dollars, they were able to align the rest of their guidelines with their mission. The mission of the CSEDA is to ensure the sustainability and viability of the community and to maximize community assets. With revamped guidelines and a more “user friendly” process, the CSEDA looks forward to furthering this mission through reinvestment using the Revolving Loan Fund.

Since the adoption of the updated materials, the CSEDA has welcomed inquiries and applications—and they look forward to these translating into new and expanded business for the City.

“The City is now receiving applications requesting funds for new start-up businesses and requests for funds to make upgrades to current businesses in Cold Spring,” said CSEDA and City Council member Gary Theisen. “We look forward to working with our new applicants and expect more will now apply.”