FEDA approves local business loans


FAIRMONT– The Fairmont Economic Development Authority met Tuesday evening due to a city council training session Monday evening. On Tuesday the board heard that several local businesses had applied for a CARES Act Loan.

In March of 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was signed into law. As a result, FEDA received $610,000 in revolving loan funds to help local small businesses, non-profits and individuals.

At the last FEDA meeting, Economic Development Coordinator Linsey Preuss had told the board that 15 local businesses had applied for and received the loan, but that the deadline to spend the money is July 2022 and there was still over $200,0000. She asked the board if it thought the maximum should be raised from $25,000 to $75,000 and the board approved it.

On Tuesday Preuss shared there were three loan requests to consider.

“I had to do zero advertising. There was an article in the newspaper and my phone was ringing. I did no outreach whatsoever,” Preuss said.

The three businesses that applied were D&R Repair, Serenity Salon and Cutting Edge Fitness of Fairmont.

Preuss asked the board if the loan term would be $75,000 at zero percent for five years like the current program, or a longer term and they can ask for some interest over time. Ultimately they decided to go with zero percent for a seven year term.

Board member Mike Wubbena shared that they asked for information on what the businesses that applied for a loan would be using the money on. The board approved all three loan requests.

Moving to other matters, Preuss shared that she had been informed of a grant opportunity through the Federal EDA, which uses ARPA funds.

“I’ve been talking with the city of Blue Earth and they’ve been asking us a lot about our workforce recruitment and retention,” Preuss said.

She reminded the board about Fairmont Area Life and the targeted ads toward the metro and said the city of Blue Earth was interested in that,

“Region Nine actually came to us and said there’s a grant opportunity where they will pay up to 80 percent of the total project cost,” Preuss said.

The total project cost is around $1.3 million but Preuss said they could hire for someone for five years as an economic recovery coordinator and not have to pay anything for it.

Preuss shared more about the possibilities of the position and said that all of the work would be done both in Fairmont and Blue Earth because that strengthens the application by covering two cities.

“It sounds really exciting and something we could work for,” Preuss said.

Members of the board asked Preuss several more questions about the process and the position. Member Aaron Speltz asked if there would be ads aiming to bring people to Fairmont, Blue Earth, or to the general area. Preuss said to the general area.

“There will probably be some benefit to the other communities if someone moves here and they want to live in welcome and work here,” said member Chantill Kahler Royer.

Ultimately the board was on board with the idea and encouraged Preuss to pursue it. She said that economic development has turned into a lot of workforce development and that this will allow her to focus more on her work while addressing another need.

“If this goes successfully, the way it should, it proves we have the need for this,” said member Michele Miller.

In other news:

— The board received an update on the Request for Proposals for White Tail Ridge. At the November meeting, the board had approved Preuss to draft an RFP to develop eight residential lots in White Tail Ridge. On Tuesday Preuss shared that there’s been a healthy amount of interest and that she’s received several inquiries. She said RFPs are due March 3.

— Preuss provided an update on the Fairmont Area Succession Planning Project and said they plan to have two 90-minute sessions which will include conversations with local businesses that have bought and sold businesses in the past to share what worked for them and what didn’t.

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