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Economic development board adopts guidelines for funding requests from Kandiyohi County, Minn., community

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission adopted guidelines Thursday for handling funding requests from community groups.

Board members and economic development officials hope it will help make the process more clear and consistent.

"It's good to have it in writing," said Bruce Peterson, development director for the city of Willmar. "Over time, precedent will tell whether you need to tweak it further."

The EDC receives a handful of funding requests each year for a variety of community projects, ranging from help in paying for a project feasibility study to underwriting the cost of a local festival.

Local organizations seeking funds from the Economic Development Commission now must make their request in writing and include a proposal and project budget.

They will have to match the request dollar for dollar with their own funds or with money raised from other organizations. They are also limited to requesting funds no more than twice within a five-year period, except in an emergency. Nor can the request be used to pay for personnel, unless it involves a feasibility study.

Funds will be granted only to nonprofits; for-profit corporations are ineligible for money from the Economic Development Commission.

Decisions on whether to fulfill a funding request will be based on how well the request meets the EDC's goal of local economic development. Projects should not duplicate other work that's already been done. They also should show evidence of cooperation or partnerships with other entities.

Under the new guidelines, many of the funding requests will be forwarded to the EDC's volunteer committees for review -- marketing-related requests to the public relations and marketing committee for instance.

"They can decide if that's something they want to spend their funds on," said board member Milan Schmiesing, who was on the subcommittee that developed the guidelines.

Requests that don't fall within the scope of an EDC committee will be considered by the board.

Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, said the previous guidelines only covered funding requests that were related to tourism activities. The new guidelines replace these and include all requests for funding support, he said.

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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