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EDC in Willmar, Minn., to start over with search for ag specialist

WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission is starting over in its search for a new agriculture and renewable energy specialist — but this time the position will be advertised as full time instead of part time.

Agency officials said they hope a full-time position will attract a strong slate of candidates.

Members of the Economic Development Commission’s operating board were updated Thursday on the lack of progress in hiring someone.

The position has been vacant since summer, when the former staff person resigned.

The EDC advertised for a replacement but decided to scale back the position to part time, with the possibility of having it become full time depending on job performance and qualifications.

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, said Thursday that there were 14 applicants. A committee interviewed four finalists and Renquist personally interviewed two more.

But the individual to whom the job was offered turned it down because of a full-time offer elsewhere, Renquist said.

Rather than offer the position to another of the applicants, the operating board decided Thursday to re-advertise, this time for a full-time person.

The extra hours can be justified, Renquist said. “We have seen what the position can do. It can be extremely productive.”

The ag and renewable energy specialist works with the EDC’s ag and renewable energy committee, overseeing projects that range from developing alternative energy sources to supporting Kandiyohi County’s farmers.

Renquist said the EDC budget for 2013 includes $45,000 for an ag specialist salary and benefits.

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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