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County EDA losing funds

September 12, 2012
Jenn Brookens - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - A reduction in reimbursements from the state will force Martin County Economic Development Authority's budget to shrink some next year, but county coordinator Scott Higgins said the cut is manageable.

State aid for the authority was reduced to $41,625 for the 2013 budget, compared to $51,800 from this year.

The authority also saw a cut from the county side of funding, from $63,716 to $52,185. All total, this brought the EDA's budget down from $115,516 last year to $93,810 for 2013.

The numbers were presented during the authority's meeting this week.

"We knew the cuts were coming, and we had planned on reductions," Higgins said.

The grant for the Martin County EDA is now through the Small Business Development Center, hosted by Minnesota State-Mankato. It's a competitive grant, meaning the county competes for the amount of funds it receives for the fiscal year.

Little cutting was needed to meet the new budget, with the main reduction in costs for professional and technical services, and small reductions in property/casualty insurance and IGNITE expenses.

Martin County's EDA began as a pilot project in 2007 that was not in the loaning business, but was able to make connections for business just starting up or looking for help and growth.

While no loans are made through the authority's "IGNITE" program, it uses resources and connections to help its clients. Last year, IGNITE was recognized by the state for its outstanding economic develop effort.

In other business, the Martin County EDA has hired Wes Pruitt through the Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation to act as a business service consultant with the authority's small business and entrepreneur clients. The authority is already contracted with RCEF, so the hiring of Pruitt does not bring additional cost.

The board also heard a presentation from Brad Berg of the Greater Minnesota Economic Alliance requesting to do a study of the county regarding business retention and expansion. While a study of the sort has not been done on the county since the 1990s, the board took no action of Berg's proposal.



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