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Economic Development Commission staff will remain at two for now

WILLMAR -- With a new executive director at the helm, it appears the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission staff will be a two-person team for the time being.At its meeting Thursday, the Joint Powers Board approved ...

WILLMAR - With a new executive director at the helm, it appears the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission staff will be a two-person team for the time being.
At its meeting Thursday, the Joint Powers Board approved a revised budget that does not include funding to hire a new assistant executive director.
The action came at the recommendation of Executive Director Aaron Backman.
In the past, the EDC had three people that worked on various economic development aspects in the county.
Last year, two of those people resigned and the remaining employee, Connie Schmoll, who is the business development specialist, worked solo until Backman was hired.
Backman praised Schmoll’s “superior effort” on the job and said they have divvied up the duties of the assistant director and are handling the duties at this time, along with Legal & Administrative Assistance Inc., which is contracted to provide office support staff for the EDC.
Instead of hiring a third person now, Backman recommended giving Schmoll an $8,000 pay increase.
That money was already in the budget to hire an assistant director, he said.
With the savings realized from not hiring a third person, the EDC will not need to use as much money from the reserve fund to balance the budget.
Backman said he is “not convinced” the EDC can afford to have an assistant director at this point and he wants to be “thoughtful” about how existing resources are used.
“I know you guys are working really hard,” said Roger Imdieke, a Kandiyohi County Commissioner who serves on the EDC board. “Can you continue at this pace?”
“I’d like to try it,” Backman said.
Members of the EDC agriculture committee have expressed a desire to have someone dedicated to ag business development. But Backman said if a third person is eventually hired, he wants to have flexibility in assigning employees to tasks.
The board said if the workload gets too heavy with the two-person team, that individuals could be hired on a short-term contract basis for specific projects, such as writing grants.
The EDC has “an incredible talent base,” said County Commissioner and EDC Board Chairman Harlan Madsen. “Teamwork is what will get the job done.”

Related Topics: KANDIYOHI COUNTY
Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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