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Sarah Stultz: What will the next city manager accomplish?

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


In the 14 years I have now lived in Albert Lea, I’ve had the opportunity so far to cover four different city managers, along with a few additional interim managers.

In November that number will increase again when our new city manager, Patrick Rigg, is slated to start.

Though the city managers we have had here all had similar training before coming to our city, it has been interesting to note the differences in the personalities of each manager and what each brought to the table for our community.

Aside from the one city manager whose time was short-lived after getting into legal troubles over use of the city’s credit card, I would say the remainder all in one degree or another brought positive things to the community.

I speak for myself, but I believe our community has improved since I first moved here.

Does that mean the city is perfect?

No, of course not.

We have our struggles, too, and continued challenges. We have seen businesses leave the community, many of which did so because of factors outside of the city’s control.

But despite the setbacks, we have many things to be encouraged by.

Even now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen new businesses opening up. A new women’s boutique opened last week, along with a new downtown shop.

We have proposals for two large multi-family housing projects — one on the Blazing Star Landing site and one at the former Marketplace Foods building. The Blazing Star Landing has been empty the entirety of my time in this community, and the former Marketplace Foods building desperately needs some new life and renovation.

We also have new construction taking place for other businesses and our new Veterans Affairs community-based clinic.

Can these things all be attributed to a city manager?

Not the city manager alone, but that position definitely plays a part — along with other city staff and staff of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce and the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau.

I’m excited for the fresh ideas of our new city manager and for the continued movement forward all of these entities are working to achieve — even at a time many other communities are seeing setbacks.

I hope that in another couple years I can look back at some of the highlights again, and continue to see more progress.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.