By Matthew Liedke
Action was taken by the Wahpeton City Council Monday to move forward on multiple Economic Development Commission requests.
In her report to the council, Economic Development Director Jane Priebe presented five recommendations made by the EDC to assist in funding projects.
The largest request was for a manufacturing training initiative for North Dakota State College of Science. The EDC met with NDSCS president, Dr. John Richman, to learn about the four year private/public partnership recruitment effort being planned that is specifically designed to increase careers in manufacturing.
The consensus from the EDC was the initiative will help local companies find and train existing and future employees. Therefore, the commission recommended the council approve $50,000 from the Sales Tax for Economic Development Fund, with $12,500 paid out each year for the next four years, starting in 2015. A motion was made and carried to approve the recommendation.
Next was a recommendation to approve a PACE interest buydown application from WCCO Belting for $34,535. The funds will be used for a $1 million project to purchase an additional vulcanizing press that will create 10 new jobs at WCCO and expand sales capabilities.
The EDC recommended the council approve the buydown amount of $34,535. The council approved the motion.
Justin Neppl, a consultant for the Wahpeton Small Business Development Center, spoke with the EDC recently to request an increase in city funding from $10,000 annually to $12,500. Other contributors to the SBDC include the Richland County JDA, Wahpeton CDC, NDSCS and the Enderlin CDC.
A recommendation was made to the council by the EDC to approve the increase, which would provide $12,500 in 2015 and also approve the disbursement of $10,000 to meet the 2014 need. The approval would be contingent upon all other groups matching the new adjusted level of funding. A motion was carried to approve the request.
Also meeting with the EDC recently was Ron Rowland of the Wahpeton Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce for the upcoming Chamber Holiday Promotion. Rowland made a request to the EDC for $10,000 to assist with a 45 day holiday promotion, with expenses about $17,000. Rowland said the Chamber will approach the Breckenridge Port Authority next week as well, requesting $2,000. The money requested by the chamber will be used for advertising and promoting its shop local campaign, holiday contests and more. A recommendation was made to support the Chamber efforts by approving the $10,000. The council approved the recommendation.
The final recommendation was in regards to the Bois De Sioux Golf Course for a loan to be converted to a grant, which would cost $25,000. Also considered was $35,000 to cover end-of-year expenses for the golf course. After hearing the EDC recommendation, the council decided to table the request and bring it to the next Finance Committee meeting for further discussion. Following the recommendation, Councilman Martin Schmidt spoke about needing more data from the EDC before voting on the recommendations.
“I would like to have more of an opportunity to look at these,” Schmidt said. “I would like more information in making my decision.”
In response, city staff will continue to send out summary sheets to the council, and additionally, will send out draft minutes of EDC meetings. Staff will also provide EDC meeting agendas to the council, so members can attend a meeting if they see a subject that interests them.
In other council news, Wahpeton Mayor Meryl Hansey gave recognition to multiple groups and individuals in the city for accomplishments in 2014.
For the groups, Hansey congratulated the Wahpeton American Legion Post 20 Baseball Team on their dedication in winning the North Dakota State Championship and also the Celebrate, Educate, Energize Richland County Committee for its work and perseverance shown in planning their project.
Hansey then congratulated Wahpeton School Teacher Dean Aamodt on winning North Dakota Educator of the Year and also congratulated and thanked Wahpeton Finance Director Darcie Huwe, who won North Dakota Municipal Finance Officer of the Year.
“She is dedicated in her job and gives 120 percent. I can’t say enough good things about her,” Hansey said about Huwe.
A number of announcements were also made during the meeting, including:
Fall cleanup will take place from Oct. 12-18
Chocolate Chocolate Day at the Leach Public Library will take place from 12:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16.
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