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County receives annual EDA report

FAIRMONT– Joshua Schuetz, a consultant with CEDA, presented the 2022 EDA (economic development authority) annual report to the Martin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

“2022 was a pretty big year for Martin County EDA. We moved from contracting with the Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation to starting our contract with Community Economic Development Associates (CEDA),” Schuetz said.

He said that the board set up a few goals early on, such as continuing business consulting services. It also wanted to build up its ability to do traditional economic development.

Some of the highlights from the year included working with the new owners of Janzen’s Greenhouse and developing a pricing tool to assist Fairmont Butcher’s Block. The EDA also assisted with the open house for Southern Minnesota Skin Solutions.

“We were awarded $11,000 in funding from SMIF (Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation) for a project to translate our business consulting materials into Spanish so we can be more accessible to all of our entrepreneurs, as well as working on a multicultural event with Project 1590,” Schuetz said.

The EDA also worked with Ad Mfg on revamping the EDA website, which recently launched.

“We assisted the owners of Bean Town Grill with a massive digital marketing campaign. That was kind of a unique thing that we were able to do. It’s yielded some good results,” Schuetz said.

In summary, he said that over the last year the Martin County EDA assisted 20 businesses in three communities, which took up a total of 438 hours assisting clients.

“Our 2023 outlook is very busy. We’ve gotten the Martin County broadband partnership started… we’ve been working on establishing partnerships with community organizations like Project 1590 as well as establishing partnerships and awareness with different cities,” Schultz said.

He said they plan to have a presence at different community festivals this summer in order to introduce themselves and share about what they can all help with.

Commissioner Elliot Belgard, who has sat on the EDA board for over a decade, said that the board has recognized the hard work that Schuetz and other staff has done. He said what they were doing had gotten stagnant and he encouraged Schuetz to keep up the good work.

“We’re very proud of what we have here compared to what we had. Keep up the good work,” added Commissioner Richard Koons.

The board also heard from Troy Nemmers, an engineer with Bolton & Menk, who provided a proposal for the courthouse drainage project.

“As you’re all aware, with the new roof project, new roof drain downspouts were installed with no real place for them to go,” Nemmers said, referring to the courthouse roof project that took place over the past few years.

He said Bolton & Menk is proposing to install some underground storm sewers to collect the downspouts and run them into the existing storm sewers around the building. Part of the process will include looking at the parking lot at the back side of the building.

“There’s been talk for many years about trying to put curb and gutter along the lakeshore/lake bank. That’s included in this proposal as well,” Nemmers said.

Accessibility will also be considered as the sidewalk on the back side of the courthouse will be looked at, along with the crosswalk as it doesn’t meet accessibility requirements.

Nemmers said that the preliminary cost estimate is coming in at about $185,000, which means it would need to be sent out for a public bidding process. He acknowledged that the project has evolved into more than what was expected.

Belgard, who sits on the building committee, agreed that it’s more than what was expected. However, he said the committee recommends doing the project in its entirety and doing it right.

“It’s much like the building. We let it go too long to start with and then it costs a lot of money. That’s what happened here,” Belgard said.

County Coordinator Scott Higgins said that they have some ARPA funds available to use on the project.

Koons asked Nemmers if the DNR will need to get involved. Nemmers said a few steps would need to be taken, which include getting it reviewed by the Department of Labor and Industry, getting a land disturbance permit through the city of Fairmont and getting a permit from the DNR for the riprap installation.

The board approved moving forward with Bolton & Menk’s recommendation.

In other news, the board awarded the following bids:

— To Sir Lines-A-Lot, LLC for highway pavement stripping in the amount of $207,919.

— To Flint Hills Resources for bituminous material for sealcoating in the amount of $394,200.

— To Crystal Valley for supplying gasoline and diesel fuel in the amount of $406,130.

— To Fairmont Glass for installation of entry doors in the Human Resources building in the amount of $27,979.

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