Quality of life draws people to the area

FAIRMONT – The Fairmont Economic Development Authority received an update on Monday on Fairmont Area Life, a two-year-old joint endeavor between the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fairmont.

Margaret Dillard, Chamber president, said the project is based on research from the University of Minnesota about “Brain Gain,” which points out that professionals from ages 30-49 look for quality of life when considering where they want to live. At the top of the list were safety, affordability, quality schools, health care options and recreational amenities.

“We have all that here,” Dillard said.

Spreading the word about the quality of life available in Fairmont, the project used an online presence that included a website, gallery, testimonials and social media as well as a billboard campaign, welcome bags marketing to alumni and assistance in integrating newcomers into the community.

Features like the disc golf course at Cedar Creek Park can be a draw. With two existing courses and plans for a third 18-hole course, this amenity makes Fairmont unique.

“It’s unusual. It really sets us in a class that’s recognized nationally,” Dillard said. “We really have to pinpoint those things that say you can find this in Martin County.”

Having a great quality of life in the area will help draw new residents to start new businesses or work in the area, which will benefit existing businesses. Dillard said the No. 1 concern that she hears from area businesses is the lack of a qualified work force.

“Fairmont Area Life doesn’t separate from the Chamber goals,” Dillard said.

Originally funded with a grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, the project will continue when the grant expires next month.

“We set ourselves up so this is sustainable,” said Linsey Preuss, Fairmont economic development director, who worked with Dillard on the project. “It’s a good project. We want to keep it going. We’re committed to it.”

In other business, FEDA welcomed its newest member, Amy Lang, administer of Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. Lang replaced Tom Lytle who had served the maximum of 12 years on the board.