EDA loan programs revamped.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EDA Board did not convene in March, and the April EDA Board Meeting was held virtually. This presented a new format for the Board as far as meetings go, and things went as well as could be expected. Due to the virus, many things have been very fluid and quick to change and have presented some new challenges for the EDA to deal with every week. I believe that the Board has done an exceptional job of dealing with this present challenge and is doing as much as possible to aid as many businesses as is fiscally possible.

The financial reports were presented for the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), the Sign and Awning Program, and the Downtown Rehab Incentive Program (DRIP) which by the way, beginning in 2020, has been revised and has seen a change in some of the criteria for using the program, as well as a name change to Business Rehab Program (BRP). The Capital Improvement Loan Assistance Program (CILAP) was also discontinued beginning in 2020 due to being scarcely used. The changes in program name, structure, and elimination were done to streamline the application process and concentrate the EDA funds to those three most used programs and to also make it possible to include more of the businesses outside of the Downtown District. The Board also finalized the 2020 budget funding structure/allotments for each of these three programs. The Board also moved to raise the application fee for the BRP from $200 per application to $300 per application, because this matched the actual cost of fees involved with the application process and legal documentation of all paperwork, beginning in 2020.

Due to COVID-19, the Board has agreed to suspend EDA loan payments upon written request from any business holding an EDA loan. These loan payment suspensions will go into affect from the time the request is received until two months after the business is allowed to reopen. The amortization schedules will be adjusted accordingly once payments resume. There have been three requests for loan payment suspensions at this time. Finally, the Board discussed the number of Emergency Small Business Grant Applications that were submitted and awarded. Twenty-two applications were awarded at the time of the meeting, and the Board moved to close the application window on May 4. Fifty-five thousand dollars were awarded through this emergency grant program.

I gave an updated report on the status of the pocket park area on the corner of Highways 4 and 14. There are coordinated efforts going on with the work beginning on that site. There should be activity starting shortly with the landscaping and the installation of block work and greenery.

The City Attorney is still working with the attorney in Mitchell, South Dakota to finalize the title work on the cemetery property and finish up with the paperwork in the sale of that property.

I have had a couple discussions recently with a representative from Seneca Foods regarding their purchase of the former Del Monte property. Because the documents and final paperwork have not been completed at this time, there is nothing new or additional to report on the sale. I have been told that once this has been completed, and depending on the continued affects of COVID-19 on business and industry, more information will be shared regarding this facility and surrounding property. This could go into the late summer or even after the pack season has been completed.

I received an inquiry from the New Ulm EDA to see if the Sleepy Eye EDA had an interest in partnering with them, along with the Brown County Licensing Staff, to provide a training day for the child care providers in our communities. The proposal was to offer the training session on a Saturday in mid-September and to cover the cost for our providers. The Board approved doing this and I will provide more details and information once they become available. The Board has discussed for several months how they might be able to be of assistance to all the local child care providers as they offer an important service to our community and this is an opportunity to do so.

As always, if you have any other questions, or want more information on current EDA activities, feel free to contact me: 794-5636 or eda@sleepyeye-mn.com