The September EDA Board meeting was an extended quarterly meeting.

The September EDA Board meeting was an extended quarterly meeting. The Board met later in the afternoon and spent a couple hours discussing and working on items that required more extensive and lengthy consideration than would have been able to take place on a regular monthly meeting spent over a noon hour of time.

The financial reports on the Revolving Loan, Downtown Rehab, and Sign & Awning Program were given. It was noted that two of the Rehab Loans had recently been paid off early, and that by next month’s meeting there may be a third one paid off early.

The first item of business was discussion on two EDA Rehab applications and two EDA Sign and Awning applications that were recently submitted. The discussion was how to support these businesses by allowing them to use the programs, even though all the budgeted money for 2020 was already used in prior application submissions. The Board developed a couple simple criteria and I shared them with the applicants. The funds will be distributed after the first of the year 2021. There needs to be a signed understanding by the applicants that the funding could possibly be less than was shown in the preliminary budget numbers, and that if this did indeed take place, it would affect the amount of money that these programs would have for distribution in 2021. The Board is unable to predict whether there would be any applications for these programs in 2021 and wanted to be sure to offer EDA assistance to those they knew were going to be doing rehab work now. This is the type of problem that the EDA Board wants to address.

The second agenda item for discussion involved possible business incubator locations downtown. An incubator is a physical location that provides an affordable space and defined set of services to individual entrepreneurs or small businesses to get them established in the community. The Board has been considering numerous possibilities on a location and will explore in more detail the consideration of the community center location. The Board will continue to do some preliminary planning and explore the different office space scenarios that might be possible to consider, while still maintaining a location for the Sleepy Eye Seniors to gather, as well as other local groups to have a place to rent for different occasions, gatherings, and celebrations. The Board is also in the process of developing the criteria, written guidelines, and other factors to consider when developing a program and location of this type. I will continue to report on the progress of this project in the coming months.

Due to COVID-19, there is more financial relief moneys available to communities to distribute to businesses who have had revenue loss due to the pandemic. The CARES Act has enabled the City of Sleepy Eye to receive some of this funding and the EDA will be distributing a second round of grants for businesses and non-profits to apply for to help assist them with this lost revenue. The total amount of grant money the EDA will make available is $80,000 and each individual grant will be for $4,000. The information, application criteria, and eligibility requirements for this money is available at City Hall in my office, and also on the City of Sleepy Eye website: www.sleepyeye-mn.com. This round of grant money is for any business within the city limits of Sleepy Eye. If you would like more details and/or information, please contact me. There will be up to 20 individual grants available for distribution and the deadline for applying is Friday, Oct. 23. The grants will be awarded and distributed on a first come first served basis. Please be sure to follow all instructions, qualification and application requirements when applying, as any missing information or incomplete applications will not be considered when awarding this grant.

The next agenda item involved the former Orchid Inn facility and property. The Board is continuing to consider asbestos abatement and redevelopment of that property and a couple different possible scenarios. There are a few specific criteria that the EDA will require from any prospective buyers. There needs to be 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 of the asbestos abatement work that is required by law, and the possible razing of the physical structure.

I reported to the Board that the final touches were recently completed to the property on the corner of Highways 4 and 14. The grass is up and growing, and the planter bowls have been installed on the curved wall. There have been a few concerns voiced recently about having any type of signs on that property, whether it is for garage sales, events, or other reasons. The Board decided that because of the nice aesthetics that that property offers for those living here and driving past, signs will no longer be allowed on that property.

Finally, I shared with the Board that I am working with a local realtor, bank, and legal group, on the possible sale of the former Jimmy’s Pizza building (136 Main Street West). One of the details in the process that the EDA Board is requiring from the potential buyers is that they submit a business plan regarding what the building will be used for. More information will become available as this progresses toward the final sale of the property.

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