Discussed possible business incubator location downtown.

The EDA board met on Aug. 25. The financial reports included the Revolving Loan, Downtown Rehab, and Sign & Awning Program.

The first item of business was discussion on a possible business incubator location downtown. The Board has considered numerous possibilities on a location and what the structure or criteria would be on setting up this space and making it available. I shared details that I had compiled after researching numerous active incubator spaces that have been established. After sharing ideas and suggestions, the Board moved to form a committee to discuss this idea and set the criteria and guidelines to present to the full Board for approval.

The considerations when developing an incubator are numerous. An incubator represents an important community investment. It is a physical location that provides an affordable space and a defined set of services to individuals or small businesses. This may include office space, flexible lease terms, access to technology, financing, technical assistance, secretarial/receptionist help, access to copiers and other equipment, professional services like business planning, legal, accounting, and marketing. Working capital, possible financing, financial networking with banks and/or investors, and other possible stakeholders offering support and motivation. Other incubator factors to consider are tenant selection criteria to match community needs, opportunities, and objectives. Determine if businesses in the community want to be involved in the process, determine what community support there might be in the program and what are the local entrepreneurial opportunities to determine if the program is going to focus on a specific business sector or company type. Is there a need to consider if a post-secondary school could be involved? All these considerations, as well as concise program with clear terms, policies, procedures, conditions of lease and exit policies need to be developed. The committee will consider these things and make a recommendation on the development and implementation of a business incubator space to the EDA Board.

Due to COVID-19 and the many restrictions that were implemented back in February/March, the EDA Board put discussions on the Orchid Inn and the asbestos abatement on the back burner. The sale of the former Del Monte facility also took a back burner due to Seneca stating they would not prioritize the sale of that facility until after the pack season was completed. I can say that this is now back to a situation where we will try and move forward with getting something accomplished with both.

The Orchid Inn facility is for sale by the EDA. However, there are a few simple criteria that the EDA requires from prospective buyers. They need to submit a detailed plan with a determined timeline on what they are going to do with the property and when. This is required due to the asbestos abatement costs and how we can access federal money to help alleviate some of the costs involved in the asbestos abatement work that is required by law. The EDA Board is not interested in selling this property without this being done. Anyone seeking more details should contact me.

Housing development discussions the EDA was having prior to COVID-19 also slowed due to the situation, however, we will be bringing this topic back to the upcoming monthly meetings as it is related to some of the other topics that the Board is currently looking at and addressing.

The EDA Finance Committee will be reviewing a rehab application that was submitted the day before the August Board Meeting. They will then make a recommendation to the full Board for them to consider for approval.

I also shared a business proposal that was presented to me, just to inform the Board of the proposal. It will not involve the EDA Board directly, but I wanted to inform them of another possible amenity that could be added to our community if it does get approved by other Boards and the City Council.

The final topic of discussion at the August meeting was to give consideration to the possibility of an EDA Facebook Page that could be used for advertising some of the local properties, or to do some advertising in other state and/or national formats, to get the information out to larger metropolitan areas where businesses, investors, or others interested in looking to move to a lesser populated community. More details on that are forth coming.

As always, if you have any other questions, or want more information on current EDA activities please feel free to contact me. 507-794-5636 eda@sleepyeye-mn.com