New direction for N. London, Minn., economic development
NEW LONDON — After trying to do double duty as the City Council and Economic Development Authority for the last year and a half, the New London City Council has now turned over the duties of economic growth to a separate board.
The City Council recently appointed seven members to the New London Economic Development Authority board, which meets for the first time Wednesday when members are scheduled to elect officers.
The board will have taxing authority, but there are no immediate plans for that to happen, said City Clerk Trudie Guptill.
The board, which will serve in an advisory capacity to the council, will have access to a $30,000 budget from the city’s general fund for projects but Guptill said expenditures will need City Council approval.
During a City Council meeting last month, the EDA members heard a broad list the council had identified as target areas, including bringing a grocery store and hotel to town, helping existing businesses to expand, promoting tourism and affordable housing.
Guptill said the EDA board will likely develop its own list of priority issues and “work from there.”
One of the items on the city’s list — dealing with the vacant Tiger Marine building on Main Street — has already been resolved.
Stacey Roberts, one of the new members of the EDA board, and her business partner Gina Lieser purchased the building at the end of December.
The two women operate a popular clothing boutique, Happy Sol, in a building they currently lease located right next to the former boat sales and repair shop.
Roberts said the old Tiger Marine building will be razed, but they are still evaluating whether to rebuild on the existing foundation or to construct new from scratch.
They plan on constructing a “really cool building” for their boutique, said Roberts, but that’s as far as plans have gone at this point.
“It’ll be fun to build our retail space around the personality of the store,” she said.
The lease on their current building does not expire for another year and a half.
Roberts said they are considering seeking financial assistance, perhaps in the form of tax increment financing or tax abatement.
Roberts said she is eager to serve on the city’s new EDA board.
“It’s exciting to see people coming together to brainstorm about bringing more people to town,” she said.
Roberts said New London is a unique town, in part because of its collection of clothing boutiques, artists and gift shops, but also because of how business owners “collaborate together.”
Besides Roberts, the other EDA members include Jeff Vetsch, Steve Maher, Art Norby, Anthony Rupp, Ryan Allen and Councilman John Bergman.