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Lake Lillian, Minn., eyes trail funding

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LAKE LILLIAN - Lake Lillian representatives had a request Thursday for the joint powers board of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission: Help us develop a recreational trail.

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"Any new trails in the area would add to the recreational appeal," Susan Jungclaus, city clerk, told the board.

The issue was raised during a meeting Thursday of the EDC governing board in Lake Lillian, one in a series of on-the-road meetings the Economic Development Commission is hosting this summer to strengthen its ties with cities across the county and foster conversations about local economic development.

Over lunch at the Lake Lillian City Center, EDC board members and staff and three Lake Lillian officials talked about the town's priorities and what resources the EDC might be able to offer.

"We recognize that we're a county economic development group," said Steve Renquist, executive director of the EDC.

The EDC worked with Lake Lillian for several years to market the Financial Services Management Corp. building, a former rebate check processing center that at its peak employed 125 people before closing in 2002. But no buyer could be found and the empty building ultimately was torn down late last year.

"We cried uncle," conceded Neal Prokosch of Citizens Alliance Bank and Lake Lillian Civic and Commerce. However, "it was not for lack of effort," he said.

City representatives saw more potential in projects such as the development of a recreational trail from Lake Lillian to Kandiyohi County Park 2, which could enhance tourism in the southern part of the county.

Renquist said the Economic Development Commission is willing to work with Lake Lillian officials to identify state grant funds and even help the city draft a grant application and obtain letters of support.

"We'll work with them to make sure it gets maximum points," Renquist said.

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Anne Polta

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

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