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City official praises work of EDC

WILLMAR — A Willmar city official had praise this week for the work of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

The mission of the EDC, established in 2003, is to be a catalyst for economic growth of the greater Kandiyohi County area, according to the organization’s website.

The praise came from Bruce Peterson, city planning and development director, during his update to the City Council on construction activity through November of this year.

Peterson also serves as an ex-officio member of the EDC. He is not a voting member, but contributes to discussions as needed.

Peterson listed EDC activities in Willmar, the unincorporated areas of Kandiyohi County and the county’s other seven cities.

Peterson said a significant amount of work went into the MinnWest Technology Campus, which has over 30 employers and over 410 employees. The EDC assisted with a manufacturing showcase, an animal science conference and a University of Minnesota technology showcase there.

The U’s Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center is operating and a number of changes are happening that will lead to activity from that facility.

Peterson said the EDC spent a fair amount of time working on ag tech and biotech projects, among those a turkey research and development facility, dairy research, stem cell and mastitis research, and renewable energy.

The EDC is a legislative advocate for airport, rail and highway transportation projects, he said. The EDC continues to pursue the possibility of establishing a veterans home in Willmar, and the EDC’s technology committee has received several Blandin grants for website development, which Peterson said has been advantageous for local companies.

Among other EDC efforts Peterson highlighted:

- Worked to create an “angel network” of local investors who help finance new projects.

- Worked with Kandiyohi Power Cooperative and the Municipal Utilities to map out land areas that have infrastructure and would be conducive to development of selected target markets such as food manufacturing and data centers.

- Hosted a large community meeting and worked diligently to make broadband available county-wide.

- Wrapping up the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities grant program. Kandiyohi County was one of the first counties to receive Blandin funding, which resulted in a number of technology initiatives.

“The EDC has been very active and I think the results of what the city and county do in the area of economic development certainly speaks for itself with the statistics and construction activity that we’re seeing,’’ Peterson said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150