EDC elects to remain downtown, will move to new site just half a block from its existing office
WILLMAR -- A downtown site was chosen Thursday as the new home for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission. The new location -- in the Centre Place building on Litchfield Avenue and half a block from the agency's ...
WILLMAR -- A downtown site was chosen Thursday as the new home for the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
The new location -- in the Centre Place building on Litchfield Avenue and half a block from the agency's present office -- was approved on a 5-1 vote by the EDC joint powers board.
"I think it's a very appropriate place," said Harlan Madsen, a Kandiyohi County Commissioner and chairman of the joint powers board.
The site was the same as that recommended by the Economic Development Commission's joint operations board.
The EDC will move into its new location some time during the summer, after some minor renovations are done.
Before finalizing the lease, the agency also plans to have the air quality tested so that it can avoid a repeat of the air quality problems at its present site. Thursday's decision came after weeks of researching and evaluating potential office sites. All told, a search committee reviewed 19 locations.
Betty Bollig, chairman of the joint operations board, said the committee "worked diligently" to find a suitable location.
"We want to come to a good conclusion," she said.
The operations board narrowed the list Thursday to four sites: Centre Place, which is in the same building as the Northern Grounds coffee house; the MinnWest Technology Campus; the Lakeland Professional Center next to Home State Bank on Lakeland Drive Southeast; and the Cederstrom pharmacy building on South First Street.
All four were fairly close in cost, square footage and efficiency, but Centre Place emerged as the board's top pick for recommending to the governing board.
The technology campus was a close second.
Ron Christianson, a Willmar City Council member and one of three city representatives on the Economic Development Commission joint powers board, cast the single vote against the downtown location.
Christianson said he'd rather have the EDC office move onto the technology campus, calling it "the gateway to Willmar."
"It shares a little history of Willmar -- where we've been, where we've come to, where we're going in the future," he said. "I just think it meets more of our needs."
Others on the governing board, however, favored keeping the office downtown.
"The downtown area is the area where it needs to be," Denis Anderson said.
Although the technology campus is "a great place," the Economic Development Commission "can't miss by being downtown," he said.
Downtown supporters, who lobbied to keep the EDC office downtown, said Thursday they were pleased with the decision.
"We appreciate that what we consider the proper decision was made. We can only be optimistic and forge ahead," said Paul Mikkelson, chairman of the board of directors of the Willmar Design Center.
Mikkelson said he hoped the EDC's choice will send a strong signal about the vitality of the downtown district, which is undergoing a large-scale renewal effort.
"We have had a very close relationship (with the EDC) to begin with," he said. "It will now take on new substance."