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EDC to fill position, close MinnWest office

WILLMAR -- A vacant staff position will be filled for an agriculture and renewable energy specialist with Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

The position will return to part time, however, and the office location that had been maintained on the MinnWest Technology Campus will be closed.

This course of action was among the recommendations approved Thursday by the joint operations board of the Economic Development Commission.

The operating board's recommendations will be forwarded to the EDC governing board for a decision later this month.

The position opened up in August with the resignation of Cathy Keuseman, who was hired in 2010, initially as a part-time employee and later full time.

The consensus of a subcommittee that examined how to fill the post was that a staff person is needed to help advance the Economic Development Commission's many initiatives in agriculture and renewable energy. The subcommittee also recommended starting the hiring process as soon as possible, a move that was seconded by members of the operating board.

"We'll work this very hard because it's a very important position for a very important part of our economy," said Steve Renquist, executive director of the EDC.

Although the position has been reduced to half time, board members recommended keeping open the possibility of increasing it to full time, depending on the qualifications and performance of whoever is hired.

In the meantime, the job description will be scaled back to reflect the fewer hours being allotted to the position.

"You can't expect a part-time person to do what a full-time person enlisted and be successful at it," Renquist said.

Board members expressed some concern Thursday whether the part-time hours would be enough to attract good candidates.

"You limit the field" of people who might be willing to apply, said Duane Hultgren. "Are we comfortable with using that approach?"

Renquist said he has already been approached by half a dozen people who have some interest in the position.

The part-time hours "might be a limiting factor," he said, but added that quality candidates could emerge anyway.

"I'll be as optimistic as I can be," he said.

The operating board concurred with the subcommittee's recommendation to close the office on the MinnWest Technology Campus, which had been rented by the month. The office space for the ag and renewable energy specialist will be moved back to the main EDC office in downtown Willmar.

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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