Fairmont EDA puts in $5K for project

FAIRMONT — A $5,000 investment from the Fairmont Economic Development Authority will complete the necessary funding for a $95,000 project to extend fiber to CHS and the city’s new industrial park near the Interstate 99 exit.

Linsey Preuss, Fairmont economic development coordinator, told FEDA members this week that Midco wants to expand fiber north from Lake Avenue along North Bixby Road (fairgrounds road) to feed the CHS plant and other businesses along the path.

“This is a $95,000 project, and we were asked to pledge $5,000. If we do this, it will also get fiber to our new industrial park,” she said.

A year ago, the city contributed $5,000 to assist with a $60,000 Midco project to run fiber to Fairmont’s existing industrial park.

A Midco correspondence to Preuss states that Advanced Drainage System, Kahler Automation, Kenway Engineering, Avery Weigh-Tronix and Rosen’s now have advanced services using the new fiber, and several other businesses are in consideration as they wait for current agreements to expire.

CHS, which has struggled with limited bandwidth, the correspondence said, has agreed to pay more than $38,000 for the new project. If the city and Martin County each contribute $5,000, Midco would absorb the rest of the capital costs so the project can begin this summer. Martin County commissioners already approved a contribution, contingent on the city doing the same.

“For $5,000, I’d say it’s a great deal,” Preuss said.

FEDA members agreed, passing the proposal unanimously.

In another matter, FEDA members renewed discussion on incentivizing development to renew the downtown area. Preuss said she has talked to economic development colleagues about the issue, and they cited St. Peter and Madelia, two communities with revitalized areas following disasters. Preuss suggested New Ulm as a better example.

“I don’t think we should let it drop, but I don’t perceive to have an answer either,” Bruce Peters said. “Every single smaller community in the state faces the same thing.”

Peters noted the cost of upgrading electrical and HVAC systems as well as revamping an older building to comply with ADA accessibility requirements can be staggering.

Preuss offered to check with New Ulm and a couple of other communities and bring the information to FEDA’s next meeting.