At work, we try to customize our services to the needs of our clients. Applying cookie-cutter solutions with standard government templates might be easier for us, but it doesn’t necessarily get the job done.
One example would be some recent conversations we’ve had with one of our counties on providing local economic development services. It can be difficult to fund a fully functioning development organization in rural communities. By the time you hire a full-time executive, there may not be enough funding for the professional to make much impact. I was in that boat when I worked in economic development in North Dakota—we got things done, but it was difficult to get enough done.
So when local leaders asked for ideas, we discussed a variety of options specific to rural Minnesota. They liked one non-traditional option, contracting with the Regional Development Commission (RDC) to provide a certain number of hours of professional services each month. It’s a win-win solution, for their cities and ours. Now we’ll see if the elected officials think it’s the best solution for them, at this time.
This is from this week’s Pipestone Star:
Les Nath, Jasper mayor and [Pipestone County Economic Development Authority (EDA)] board chairman, told the county commissioners during their June 14 meeting that the EDA board — including Nath, Laurie Ness, Pipestone mayor; Jeanne Swenson, Ihlen mayor; and Marv Tinklenberg, county commissioner — approved during a May 19 meeting a plan to contract with the Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) to provide EDA services.The County EDA Board would pay the SRDC an hourly rate… Nath said John Shepard, a development planner with the SRDC, would be the face of the County EDA and work about 20 hours a week, doing much of the work from SDRC’s Slayton office by phone and online.
Nath said the contract with SRDC would cover all expenses aside from internet and telephone service, and office space at the courthouse for Shepard to meet with people.
The executive board members said contracting with the SRDC would allow access to a wealth of resources. According to their website at www.srdc.org, the organization provides economic development services through a grant with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. SRDC staff assist communities in the region with applications for funding, administration of community revolving loan funds, business development and other services.
“They have grant writers and connections with people, they have people who do business plans and all those sorts of things,” Ness said. “So we’re not just contracting with an individual, but with the organization and all their expertise.”
The executive board’s plan includes funding the resurrected EDA using its statutory levying authority. That authority, however, must first be approved by the county commissioners who have ultimate control over County EDA activities….
The commissioners directed the EDA board to research their ability to levy the townships and come back with more information during their Tuesday, June 28 meeting when they would make a decision on whether the EDA can contract with the SRDC and enact a levy.