FEDA prepares to update document

FAIRMONT — In 1988, Fairmont was awarded funds from the Federal Economic Development Authority. At that time, the Fairmont Economic Development Authority scripted a 15-page document for its revolving loan fund plan utilizing the federal money.

“It has never been updated,” Linsey Preuss, Fairmont economic development director, told the FEDA board on Monday.

The federal government recently mandated that local loan plans must be updated every five years, an effort Preuss called “a humungous project.”

The 30-year-old document states in its goals and objectives that a revolving loan fund would assist the city and county in recovering from the loss of a major employer, ConAgra, which shut down its plant, the current site of Fairmont Foods, in 1987.

“I really think it needs to be completely redone,” Preuss said.

And FEDA members agreed, considering the possibility of temporary help to finish the project.

Preuss said she would continue to work on the arduous task as her time permits and that she has reached out for comprehensive economic development strategy information through Region 9. Councilman Tom Hawkins suggested she also check with the League of Minnesota Cities for assistance.

“In the end, I think we might have to look for extra help to get this done,” Hawkins said.

In another matter, Margaret Dillard, president of the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce, reported on Leadership Martin County which will run from September through May 2019. FEDA is one of the sponsors of the leadership program designed to enable participants to learn about county resources, values, strengths, weaknesses and challenges.

Dillard said 23 would be the optimal number of candidates participating in Leadership Martin County. The deadline to register is July 31.

“It’s a great program for those who have been here for a long time even,” she said.

“It’s an awesome program,” agreed Pruess, who has participated in a previous year. “Even if you’re from the area, you’ll learn a lot. It’s just a great program.”

FEDA voted unanimously to continue its $500 sponsorship of the program.

In other business, Preuss informed FEDA members of the upcoming ag tour on July 25. Event participants visit farm sites as well as businesses related to agriculture, culminating with the Ground Up meal that night.