Archives for August 2019

Claremont, MN EDA Works to Prepare for Highway 14 Expansion

Article by: Marty Walsh

The Claremont, MN EDA has been working with CEDA to prepare for potential growth spurred on by the completion of the final four lane section of US Highway 14 between Rochester and Owatonna, and Mankato beyond. The new highway will pass to the south of the City, instead of the current route to the north. CEDA Community and Business Development Specialists Marty Walsh and Rebecca Charles have been working to map out which areas would be prime for annexation and development. The project includes working with Claremont Township to prepare an Orderly Annexation Agreement to quickly react to future development potential outside the City that requires annexation, as well as conducting a Development Survey that gathers information from rural landowners about their willingness to sell and/or develop land for commercial, residential or industrial use. The survey information will be used to inform City decisions about infrastructure improvements and to connect landowners to potential development projects inquiring with the City. 


In addition to identifying where there is high development potential, the surveys will help to highlight areas with low development potential which will help limit over investment in attempting to annex an area or over development of infrastructure that will likely never meet capacity. Once surveys have been returned and the data analyzed, CEDA will generate Residential, Industrial, Commercial, and Industrial development Requests For Proposals that take into account the information in the surveys as well as the new highway and existing railroad service and distribute them for the City, spurring interest in the community and the location between two of the states fastest growing markets.

Micro Distillery Celebrates with Ribbon Cutting in Harmony, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Harmony Spirits micro-distillery celebrated their grand opening with a ribbon cutting event on July 4th! CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen has been working with the owners of the distillery for over four years, offering small business counseling and packaging several assistance programs to help them establish in Harmony. Additionally, the Harmony Economic Development Authority sold the lot to the distillery for $1, made a $25,000 loan for equipment, and gave a $10,000 forgivable loan to get the project off the ground. “This project is exciting for the community not only because of the micro distillery opening, but also because the EDA has worked since 2005 to redevelop the lot where the distillery built. 

The city received a redevelopment grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development DEED) in 2005 to demolish and redevelop blighted properties and build a public parking lot on a downtown block. It was a lot of work to find the right project to fit this important space,” Giesen explained. “This business complements the community very well. It supports local restaurants too, as the distillery does not offer a food menu, and it attracts even more tourists and visitors to the downtown.” Harmony Spirits uses locally sourced grain to make whiskey, rum, and vodka. Soon, their products will also be available in liquor stores and they will also be adding bourbon and gin to their lineup. Stop by Harmony Spirits Thursdays – Saturdays between 12-9 pm, or Sundays from 5-9 pm!

CEDA Staff Leads Itasca County, MN Communities through Brainstorming Sessions

Article by: Mary Kennedy

Over the past several months, Sarah Carling, CEDA team member serving Itasca County and Itasca Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has been facilitating brainstorming sessions in communities throughout Itasca County. The brainstorming sessions consist of interactive meetings / workshops held with city staff, community and business leaders, residents, and stakeholders to identify resources, assets, challenges, and ultimate goals for the community’s future.

Carling takes an interactive approach by first facilitating a SWOT analysis, helping the group identify the communities strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. From there, Carling leads the group through several conversations concerning both the economic and commercial aspects of the community, as well as residential and tourism. For example, Carling encourages the community members to consider how all populations are being engaged and best utilized in the community, including senior citizens and youth, and to identify blighted areas. The process Carling uses to gather information throughout the brainstorming session is to have the participants individually write their thoughts on post-it notes for each of the 5 exercises, and eventually post them on a large sheet to discuss as a group. After the brainstorming session is complete, Carling is able to compile a report that will document the shared ideas and potential projects. The report will also include a living breathing Excel document that allows the city to work and track the progress, assists with prioritization, and identifies possible resources available to make these projects more attainable. “Mapping out a wish list is important for every community,” explains Carling. “How each of the communities in Itasca County will use these reports will be different, but they will have the tools and possible resources to get their ball rolling in the best direction possible for their community. I am excited to see what will come for these communities in the future.”

CEDA Authors Successful Grant for Houston County Farming Initiative

Article by: Courtney Bergey Swanson and Allison Wagner

CEDA team members Courtney Bergey Swanson with the Spring Grove Economic Development Authority and Allison Wagner with Houston County Economic Development Authority have been working with many partners on a farming initiative in the region called Driftless Grown. Houston County was recently awarded an $18,000 SMIF grant for the Driftless Grown initiative. Swanson authored the successful grant for the County. 

This new initiative helps farmers build skills as entrepreneurs and connect with resources to help strengthen their business. The project aims to support existing and budding farmers by connecting them with education, networks, resources, and new markets, as well as attract new entrepreneurs to the region through strategic branding and promotion. 

“We have an opportunity to support conventional farmers looking for alternative ways to make a living on their farm, while also supporting new farmers with the education, connection, mentor-ship, and resources needed to grow as entrepreneurs. This work will not only help address immediate issues for these businesses, but it will also lay the foundation for the identity of our region, making Houston County a destination for local foods and a welcoming place to start an agricultural business.” Wagner said. 

The initiative has the support of many partners and businesses who have generously given matching donations. Some of these include: U of M Extension, Workforce Development Inc., Land Stewardship Project, Merchant’s Bank, MiEnergy, and People’s Food Co-op.

CEDA Regional Development Tour Returns to Showcase Cresco, IA, Harmony, MN and Preston, MN

The 4th annual CEDA Regional Development Tour is being held on Thursday, August 15, 2019!
This collaborative event is led by CEDA and J2G (Journey to Growth).  The tour provides an opportunity for individuals and organizations who are interested in development to learn about multiple communities within the region. In one afternoon, participants will hear from economic development professionals, community leaders and decision makers in each of the featured communities: Cresco, IA  |  Harmony, MN  |  Preston, MN
Only a few priority seats remain for real estate agents/brokers, architecture/engineering firms, financial institutions, higher education institutions, construction/development firms, and businesses looking to build/expand in the region. 
Click HERE for more details and registration information!

CEDA Staff Author Successful BDPI Grant for Kenyon, MN

Article by: Mary Kennedy and Chris Giesen

CEDA representatives Chris Giesen and Abby Wright together successfully authored a $672,096 Business Development Public Infrastructure (BDPI) grant for the City of Kenyon, MN. The grant dollars will be used to develop a new business park by assisting with water, sewer, electric utilities, and street construction costs. Giesen expressed his enthusiasm for the BDPI program stating, “This is a great program for communities looking to build or grow their industrial parks if they are out of space or to assist with infrastructure when a manufacturer expands. The application is very user-friendly for qualifying projects.  It was great to work with the City of Kenyon and we are excited to see their project move forward.”


The BDPI program is made available through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and applications are accepted on a rolling basis, depending on the availability of program funding remaining.  The program requires a 50% match for BDPI-eligible capital costs and is specifically designed for use by cities in Greater Minnesota to stimulate new economic development, create new jobs, and the retention of existing jobs through public infrastructure investments.

Stewartville, MN Is Awarded $150,000 CEDA-Authored Minnesota Investment Fund Grant for Expansion of Local Manufacturer

Article by: Joya Stetson
CEDA team member Joya Stetson recently authored and was awarded a $150,000 Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for the City of Stewartville, MN.  This grant was authored for a proposed expansion project at GEOTEK, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of reinforced fiberglass pultrusion products headquartered in the City.  GEOTEK currently employs over 370 individuals in the community.
This important project will create 18 jobs over two years and retain numerous positions; these positions boast competitive wages and diverse opportunities in manufacturing, management and engineering. Furthermore, the project will substantially increase the tax base in the community through the construction of a ~65,000 square foot addition.
The project comes on the heels of a significant recent expansion investment made by GEOTEK last year.  In 2018, the Company purchased and renovated a 65,894 square foot vacant building in the City and created more than 100 jobs.  GEOTEK was also awarded CEDA-authored MIF and Job Creation Fund (JCF) grants totaling $350,000 through DEED for this previous project.