There's a housing and economic development buzz in the community.
In 2013, the City of Crookston budget allocates $110,000 to the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA). On July 31, members of the city council and Mayor Dave Genereux will sit down over pizza to start strategizing and prioritizing as 2014 budget parameters are established. By then, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth hopes to have nailed down a CHEDA budget allocation request, and if the tone of recent discussions is any indication, the agency that oversees housing and economic development in the community could be in prime position for an upward bump.
"Apparently, CHEDA is becoming more important all the time, and apparently we're gaining some traction," CHEDA Executive Committee member Craig Morgan said in a Friday morning meeting at Valley Technology Park. "It might be a good time for us to administer some funding as opposed to others. But if we're requesting more than our past history, I would assume we'd have to have a plan to go along with that."
The July 31 session at city hall is a public meeting and anyone can attend. When Hoiseth mentioned in passing that he hadn't yet been "invited" to the session, Morgan responded, "I would suggest that you somehow invite yourself to that meeting. I think we all agree we're in a position to do some very good economic development things, but some additional funding may be necessary for that."
CHEDA's recent successes on the economic development and housing fronts certainly aren't a secret, as there seems to be a particular buzz in the community about new housing and new businesses opening or soon to open in Crookston. The notion of potentially investing more city dollars in CHEDA has been discussed quite a bit in recent months, as the city is in line for an increase in Local Government Aid of more than $400,000, and City Administrator Tony Chladek has included increased CHEDA funding among options he's floated for potential investment of some of the LGA dollars.
At Friday's meeting, Mayor Dave Genereux certainly didn't dampen any of the enthusiasm. In fact, it was he who put forth a motion to increase Hoiseth's salary by $5,000, which was already included in the budget. But Genereux said there are other potential funding sources besides the city. "Do our financial institutions have any things they'd like to see when it comes to economic development and do they have some funds they might be willing to spend?" he said. "That's a question I think needs to be asked. A lot of times with our development, they get the rewards through banking loans and financing, but they do need to spend some money on community development things, too."
As he formalizes a plan moving forward, Hoiseth agreed the iron might be hot right now. "There's a lot of things going on, a lot of momentum in town," he said. "It seems like there's an appetite to bring more things our way."