Development official touts local growth

FAIRMONT — Fairmont demonstrated strong economic growth in 2018, according to Linsey Preuss, the city’s economic development coordinator.

Preuss presented the 2018 report on Monday to the Fairmont Economic Development Authority and City Council, and received praise for her work from both entities.

“It was a very good year, very active,” Preuss said. “We moved the needle on very important issues such as child care, workforce and housing, and we will continue to do so with our strong partnerships in 2019.”

These partnerships span local organizations, such as the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Fairmont, to the Minnesota Marketing Partnership, the latter being present at 30 national and international events annually. Preuss selects two or three of the national events to attend, making contacts and following up with direct contact.

“My direct mail is to 150 consultants and site selectors that I have personally met. They represent companies all over the board,” she said. “Some of them work in industrial. Some of them work in food manufacturing. Some of them work in data centers. It’s diverse, but I want them all to keep us in their minds. They know who I am. I’m just getting our name back out there again.”

In addition to the ongoing work to attract new business to Fairmont, FEDA and Preuss also offer assistance to existing local businesses. In 2018, Preuss was contacted by 42 businesses, up from 34 in 2017. The economic development group also reached out to existing businesses by doing 38 site visits to offer support.

“For me, the No. 1 thing when I’m working with a business is follow-through, not just the business visit or the discussion that we had with a new potential business,” Preuss said. “There’s always follow-up that needs to be done on every single one, some more than others. It could be giving them resources. It could be getting them in touch with the Small Business Development Center. It could be explaining our revolving loan fund to them and sending them an application.”

FEDA operates a $1.7 million revolving loan fund, of which about $800,000 currently is being used by 20 businesses that have borrowed from the fund since 2010. These loans, all of which are paid current, involve job creation or job retention.

The 2018 report also includes data on home sales and building permits, both residential and commercial, issued by city.

There were 155 home sales in 2018, with 60 of those sales in the $100,000 to $199,999 range, compared to 108 sales in 2012 with 45 in that range.

In each of the last two years, the city issued more than 280 residential building permits.

“The permits are for larger projects like new builds or major additions and alterations versus roofing or a window permit,” Preuss said.

On the commercial side, 40 building permits were issued in 2018, up from 35 in 2017. The largest ones were for the complete rebuild of McDonald’s, Tractor Supply Company and Hawkins Collision Center.

This year looks to be another strong period of growth with big projects already on tap for 2019 including the Lutz Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center’s new construction and Great Plains Transportation’s addition.

“There are more that I know of, but I just can’t say yet,” Preuss said. “I am anticipating a strong year for 2019. It might be our best year yet.”

Copies of the report are available online at www.fedamn.com or by calling Preuss at (507) 238-3925.

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