BLUE EARTH - Linsey Warmka is in the business of helping business.
She is executive director of Faribault County Economic Development Corporation, an entity dedicated to bringing jobs to the county and increasing the tax base.
"I'm a business consultant," Warmka said. "When things aren't working perfectly, that's where I come in."
She holds a bachelor's degree in business finance from Minnesota State-Mankato, and attended Hamline University to study economic development.
Her services are free to business owners in Faribault County.
They include startup assistance; feasibility assessments; strategic planning; building/site search assistance; business plan development; marketing and market research; financing/capital counseling; and needs assessments.
"I want to urge businesses if they have a project or are thinking of a project to let me know," Warmka said.
The corporation helped 71 businesses in 2012 and 80 in 2013.
"Every business deal I work with is unique," said Warmka, adding that no business is too big or too small.
"Even if you're going to be the only person in the business, that's what I'm here for. It's not just all big business," she said.
Warmka is open to people asking questions and bouncing ideas off her, whether they are ready to improve their business or just thinking about it. She also could have ideas for helping that a business owner had not considered.
She already has businesses talking to her about relocating to the North Industrial Park, which the city of Blue Earth is in the process of creating at the corner of Highway 169 and Interstate 90.
"The next thing is advertising for bids and awarding the construction contract. We plan to begin construction July 1," Warmka said. "That doesn't mean construction of buildings, it means infrastructure (road, water, and sewer)."
Then there's more to do, with construction expected to be complete by August 2015.
"Our plan in the future is:?How do we market these lots?" Warmka said. "They would be shovel-ready sites."
She is always working on ways to improve business in Faribault County, including applying for grants. One would help businesses with any safety or structure updates to buildings, such as facade, electrical and plumbing.
Other projects Warmka has boosted are Tour of Manufacturing, County Manufacturing Network and Faribault County Comprehensive Plan.
Warmka was nominated to the South Central Workforce Council and became chairwoman. She is also the chairwoman of Region 9 Community and Economic Development Committee, and she attends Southern Minnesota economic development meetings, "to figure out the best and worst practices, get a feel for the programs out there, and update businesses on what the new programs are.
"All of these things I do... those are things we couldn't do without the public/private partnership we have," Warmka said. "That means we have contracts with the city of Blue Earth and the [Faribault County] commissioners to provide economic services."
Businesses make required annual contributions.
"The reason businesses do that is if our economy does better those businesses do better," she said. "It's going to be indirect and not immediate results they're gonna see. If we bring more population into the community, which happens by creating jobs, that's more of a population that these businesses have of serving."