EDC board seeks priorities regarding legislative wish list
WILLMAR -- Is it time for Kandiyohi County to start prioritizing its legislative wish list? Some local officials think so, and they launched an informal discussion about it Thursday at a meeting of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economi...
WILLMAR -- Is it time for Kandiyohi County to start prioritizing its legislative wish list?
Some local officials think so, and they launched an informal discussion about it Thursday at a meeting of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission Joint Operations Board.
"We just can't be asking for everything," said Richard Falk, a Kandiyohi County commissioner.
At least four local projects are seeking inclusion in a state bonding bill that will come before the Minnesota Legislature next year.
On the list: money for a veterans' home and brain-injury diagnostic and treatment center in Willmar, funding to help pay for a new wastewater treatment plant for the city of Willmar, funding to restore the Grass Lake wetlands basin south of Willmar, and money for a recreational trailhead center in Spicer.
They add up to well over $2 million.
Falk said he's concerned that with so many potential funding requests, the county could wind up with nothing.
"I think somebody has to prioritize," he said Thursday.
Economic development officials agreed.
Even if some -- or all -- of the projects are funded through the state bonding bill, there's a chance that the dollar amount could be significantly watered down, said Bruce Peterson, development director for the city of Willmar.
Reaching a consensus on the priorities might take some intense discussion, however.
Steve Renquist, executive director of the Economic Development Commission, said he thinks the veterans' facility should be at the top of the list.
The proposal will help create an innovative program for soldiers with traumatic brain injury and will create new jobs, Renquist said.
Ron Erpelding, a member of the joint operations board, said there may not be another chance to seek funding for the veterans' facility.
"There is this window of opportunity," he said.
Others are in favor of the wastewater treatment plant as the highest priority.
Peterson said a new, higher-capacity wastewater treatment plant will be key in expanding the city's industrial park.
"When we look at the financial impact, wastewater is hard to argue against. If we don't have the infrastructure, we don't have the growth and the jobs," said Oliver Hagen, vice president of the operations board.
Board members suggested having a discussion among city and county officials to weigh each of the projects on the funding list.
"We need to somehow make sure that we as a group are directing our staff to go with our priorities," Hagen said.