Guest Column: Highlights of 2017 economic development

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, February 1, 2018

Guest Column by Ryan Nolander

Here’s to 2018.

While 2017 may have seen its fair share of challenges there are still successes to celebrate as well as projects to look forward to in 2018. As stated by President Heinemann at the Greater Jobs annual meeting in January, economic development doesn’t happen in a straight line. Sometimes it zigs, sometimes it zags, but no matter what, we need to keep focused on moving forward.

Ryan Nolander

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Some highlights of 2017 include:

• ALEDA worked on over 40-plus unique projects, with nearly 40 percent of them moving forward in some form or fashion

• Sold the former Enderes Tool property to a local company looking at future expansion

• MERC moved into its new facility in the Habben Business Park

• Assisted Krieger Beverage in finding a long-term tenant for their building

• All 260,000 square feet of the building space we manage was leased out

• Started construction on the Zumbro River Brand warehouse project, which will lead to 20-plus more jobs and an investment of over $5 million dollars in our community

• Continued success of the ALEAP program with eight new businesses and 23 new jobs created to date by participants of this entrepreneur group

• Located the Albert Lea Gymnastics Club in the ALBDC incubator, which brought the incubator to full capacity with seven total businesses operating in the building

• Responded quickly and efficiently to requests from site selectors, DEED and other sources

• Continued participation in regional economic and workforce development initiatives

• Enhanced collaboration with the city, county and the chamber to ensure all available resources can be utilized in pursuit of our mission

As we move into 2018 we look forward to more growth and collaboration in Albert Lea. While we will continue to respond quickly and efficiently to requests from site selectors, DEED and other sources representing potential new firms, we plan to focus the majority of our time assisting and growing our local businesses. We will do this through our entrepreneur programming, assisting with workforce development, collaborating with other entities, growing membership programs, and most importantly, reenergizing the business retention and expansion program. We know that in Greater Minnesota the key to continued economic growth will be working with our local businesses to expand and grow. Assisting companies such as Zumbro River Brand and Schipp’s Pro Power Wash create new jobs and tax base has a great impact on our community. It also provides potential new companies with a real-life example of how Albert Lea is a business-friendly community and how multiple entities such as the city, the county, ALEDA and the chamber work together.

As part of this focus we invite the community to assist us in the work of promoting our community. Do you know of a business looking to expand or relocate? Do you know someone in the community looking to start a business, but they don’t know where to begin? Send them our way, and we will work together to make our community a great place to live, work and play!

Remember we’re all in this together.

Ryan Nolander is executive director of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.