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EDC planning to hit the road in 2012 with its meeting schedule

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission hopes to increase its countywide presence by taking to the road this year.

Members of the joint operations board decided Thursday to hold at least two of their meetings this year in towns outside Willmar, and to make this an annual practice.

Doing so would allow the EDC to be more visible and invite more engagement with all the towns in Kandiyohi County, board members said Thursday. If the board does this every year, "eventually we'd hit all of them," said Ron Erpelding, chairman.

"It would be a chance for us to learn about the communities too."

"We should get out," agreed Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.

Although the operating board has held a handful of retreats and planning sessions in towns such as New London or Lake Lillian, its regular meeting each month has traditionally taken place at the EDC office in downtown Willmar.

More outreach is "just good public relations," Erpelding said.

The EDC's administrative staff will be working in upcoming weeks to identify some meeting locations and get the dates scheduled.

Once the dates are set, they will be announced in advance of the meetings, Renquist said. City officials and the public from the host community also will be invited to attend so that they can share what they're doing in local economic development and discuss questions and concerns with the EDC board.

Thursday's board meeting also was the first meeting of the new year and included election of officers for 2012. Erpelding, the 2011 chairman of the board, will serve another year as chairman. Milan Schmiesing was re-elected vice chairman, Bob Carlson was re-elected treasurer and Rick Nordin, the newest member of the operating board who joined last year, was named secretary.

Board members voted to send a letter of thanks to Betty Bollig, who served for the past eight years on the joint operations board and has opted not to be reappointed to another term.

The board also held a closed session to conduct Renquist's annual performance review. The state's Open Meeting Law permits a closed session for a review. Members voted to recommend renewing his contract, describing their evaluation of his work as very favorable. Their recommendation will be forwarded for action later this month by the joint powers board, which consists of representatives of the Kandiyohi County Board and Willmar City Council.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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