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Business activity in the county


Fri, Aug 17th, 2012
Posted in All Government

Mathy Construction representatives discuss language for the proposed ordinance changes. Milestone Materials geologist Ron Garrison, Mathy environment engineer Tara Wetzel, and Milestone Materials manager Steve Beach. Committee member Brad Erickson is in the background.

Cris Gastner, Economic Development Authority, at the board’s August 14 meeting updated the commissioners on projects he is working on within the county.

With funding from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and a match provided by Fillmore County Economic Development, a program for business succession planning is being established. A similar program has been successful in Spring Valley.

The program is designed to help communities retain their businesses. If a current business owner participates in the program, a service provided and designed by Rochester Community and Technical College will be available to help an owner plan for the future. The intent is to “lay out a path allowing them to transition out of the business while maintaining value for them and viability for the new owner.” Plans are to be customized to fit the needs of a particular business.

Gastner noted that he hoped to attract funding from area foundations to keep the program going in the future. The maintenance of businesses in area communities now and in the future is paramount to the community’s viability.

Gastner explained that the loss of the Mabel grocery store is a situation for small communities that isn’t going away, due to the difficulty for a small grocery to compete with the large chain stores. He hopes to develop a model, which doesn’t exist right now, to deal with the problem.

There have been numerous contacts from citizens looking into the possibility of starting a new business. Gastner described some as “tire kickers,” but some are continuing to explore the possibilities.

Gastner said he has been encouraged with signs that the economy is picking up over the last eight to ten months. A couple of communities are looking at ways to redevelop their downtown areas. Business growth could be stimulated in some downtown areas.

Informational meetings are being planned about social media and its use in marketing.

Other Business In Brief

•Commissioners continued painstakingly going through each department’s preliminary budget numbers trying to wring out any excesses. They looked at the budgets related to the Sheriff’s department, recorder’s department, SWCD and Water Quality, and Economic Development. The board managed to reduce numbers last week by a few percent. However, with the substantial cut in County Program Aid from the state and the elimination of Market Value Credit, keeping levy increases low is a challenge.

•The board approved the purchase of a new loader for the recycling center. The price after trade in for the 621F Case loader will not exceed $59,500. The loader to be traded in is six years old. Jon Martin explained that the state contract price for the equipment will go up over two percent at the end of August. Funding will come out of the SCORE budget.

•Approval was given for the tower near the Sheriff’s office to be moved about 70 feet west to avoid fiber and to move it closer to the generator. The $9,172 cost will be paid for with an ARMER Phase 3 grant and 911 funds.

VHF antennas to be moved and placed on the new ARMER tower for back up communication will be installed at a cost of $6,955. This will be paid for with 911 funds. Both quotes approved were from Whitewater Wireless.

Approval of a quote from Morem Electric was given for coax conduit from the tower to the control room at a cost of $3,250.

A 10-year agreement with MnDot was approved to put the county’s microwave equipment on the Amherst ARMER tower for $300 per year.

•A resolution was adopted for renewal of the Toward Zero Death Safe Roads 2012-2013 grant contract with a budget of $13,000.

•Board members discussed the forced closing later this fall of Fillmore Family Resources. The closing is due to the funding cut to the agency by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The victim services agency serves victims of crime including domestic violence and child abuse.

•Approval was given to hire two Home Health Aides. They will be intermittent employees with no benefits. Lantha Stevens, Director of Nursing, explained that Good Samaritan Society Home Care in Preston will no longer provide services for clients that only need a homemaker. She said the county has to provide homemaking services to seven additional clients that aren’t getting the services from another agency. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud remarked that as a county we are not required to provide the service, but asked what are the ramifications for not doing it. The cost of the service is reimbursed.

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