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Economic Development Commission works to prioritize goals for 2013

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- By next month, the operating board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission hopes to whittle down a long list of potential goals and identify priorities for the coming year.

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Board members reviewed the three-page list during a meeting this past week.

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, called the list "not the final product but an interim."

"Many of these are projects we should try and advance," he said.

The Economic Development Commission is halfway through a five-year plan of action. At a series of sessions this past summer, board members and staff sought to assess their progress and look at whether the plan needed to be revised.

The process is continuing, with a goal of wrapping it up at the operating board's next meeting on Nov. 8.

At that meeting, "we'll take as much time as we have to" to finalize the plan, said Ron Erpelding, board chairman. "If we don't finish it, we'll finish it in December."

Board members have been asked to rank each item on the list according to whether it should be an immediate priority, a future goal, an ongoing task or something that should be put on hold.

Possibilities on the list range from attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses to developing renewable energy projects, building the county's technology industry and enhancing cooperation with other local and regional agencies.

Among the potential goals:

n Helping the towns in Kandiyohi County strengthen their core business districts.

n Attracting new businesses and employees to the MinnWest Technology Campus.

n Working with the Willmar Municipal Airport to increase airport use and explore the possibility of services such as air taxi and charter flights or cargo flights.

n Working with the University of Minnesota to market the new Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center, which opened in May on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, and assist in the commercializing of intellectual property developed by the research center.

n Develop a project that would convert ag biomass into anhydrous ammonia.

n Developing value-added ag enterprises such as large-scale beef and dairy operations and ag research projects.

n Promoting the use of the Internet and social media to help local businesses expand.

Virtually all of these goals fit within the priorities of the current five-year plan.

But economic development officials said it's important to narrow down the list so there's a clear plan for the EDC's staff and volunteer committees in 2013.

The agency "can't be chasing" every item on the list, said Bruce Peterson, director of planning and community development for the city of Willmar.

"I do think we really need to focus," he said.

The final list will help clarify the EDC's direction next year, Erpelding agreed. "It would provide some framework and structure."

WILLMAR -- By next month, the operating board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission hopes to whittle down a long list of potential goals and identify priorities for the coming year.

Board members reviewed the three-page list during a meeting this past week.

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, called the list "not the final product but an interim."

"Many of these are projects we should try and advance," he said.

The Economic Development Commission is halfway through a five-year plan of action. At a series of sessions this past summer, board members and staff sought to assess their progress and look at whether the plan needed to be revised.

The process is continuing, with a goal of wrapping it up at the operating board's next meeting on Nov. 8.

At that meeting, "we'll take as much time as we have to" to finalize the plan, said Ron Erpelding, board chairman. "If we don't finish it, we'll finish it in December."

Board members have been asked to rank each item on the list according to whether it should be an immediate priority, a future goal, an ongoing task or something that should be put on hold.

Possibilities on the list range from attracting new businesses and retaining existing businesses to developing renewable energy projects, building the county's technology industry and enhancing cooperation with other local and regional agencies.

Among the potential goals:

- Helping the towns in Kandiyohi County strengthen their core business districts.

- Attracting new businesses and employees to the MinnWest Technology Campus.

- Working with the Willmar Municipal Airport to increase airport use and explore the possibility of services such as air taxi and charter flights or cargo flights.

- Working with the University of Minnesota to market the new Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center, which opened in May on the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, and assist in the commercializing of intellectual property developed by the research center.

- Develop a project that would convert ag biomass into anhydrous ammonia.

- Developing value-added ag enterprises such as large-scale beef and dairy operations and ag research projects.

- Promoting the use of the Internet and social media to help local businesses expand.

Virtually all of these goals fit within the priorities of the current five-year plan.

But economic development officials said it's important to narrow down the list so there's a clear plan for the EDC's staff and volunteer committees in 2013.

The agency "can't be chasing" every item on the list, said Bruce Peterson, director of planning and community development for the city of Willmar.

"I do think we really need to focus," he said.

The final list will help clarify the EDC's direction next year, Erpelding agreed. "It would provide some framework and structure."

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