Community Connections: A look at CHEDA and the boost they've given to Crookston

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority, otherwise known as CHEDA, was established in 1987 by resolution of the Crookston City Council under Minnesota Statutes, Sections 469.090 to 469.108 and has stood by their mission of being Crookston’s “leader and catalyst for economic development, and all public housing creating a progressive community through collaboration with all stake holders.”

They’ve had many successes over the years, including, in the last year or two never stopping service to development customers or housing services through the COVID-19 pandemic:

• Awarding 22 businesses with a B3 (Building Better Business) grant for a total of $86,182.50 with owner contributions for projects reaching $272,911.86

• Focus on childcare options with a close working relationship with the upcoming Crookston Little Pirates child care nonprofit and issuing a Community Development loan to Gotta Love Kids day care

• Provided 25 businesses with revolving loans plus assisted 10 businesses in seeking help with IRP loans

• Helped to create and fully funded a shop local pro- motion with the Crookston Chamber of Commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses were struggling which directed $16,000 in Chamber Bucks back into the community through hundreds of thousands of dollars of local purchasing

• Assisted the City of Crookston with the release of CARES Act funding to 31 Crookston businesses in the amount of $547,356.02 with another $29,300 pending additional documentation, plus disbursed a second wave of grants to 19 businesses in the amount of $173,343.98

• Assisted Polk County with Resiliency grants and awarded $200,000 disbursed to 41 applicants and $100,000 disbursed to 18 rural applicants

• Applied for a funding grant from MN Housing and received a nearly $2M award which went to a major renovation project for Oak Court Apartments plus added elevator and technology upgrades for internet and cable TV for residents. They also utilized as many local subcontractors as possible.

• Becoming the fiscal financial host for the Prairie Skyline Foundation for their roof project at the old Cathedral Church downtown

• Continuing to work with Epitome Energy’s Dennis Egan and partners for the planned soybean crush facility to be located in Crookston’s industrial park

• Continued partnerships with the Ox Cart Days summer festival including sponsorship of special events; Crookston Visitors Bureau which also led to new welcome signs for Crookston’s north and south ends, plus many other partnerships in the community

A recap of their projects and initiatives for 2020 was presented during their annual meeting in January 2021. Those were:

January 2020

- Vertical Malt’s Adam Wagner working with a consulting firm for a $4.2 million project with phase 1 being $2M

February 2020

- Total Lawn Care & Landscaping’s Morgan Terpstra purchased the land that was originally part of Crookston Jobs and the facility was constructed later in 2020

- CHEDA was recognized as a high performer with the Public Housing Assessment System

March 2020

- CHEDA applied for a USDA grant asking for $99,000 with leverage of $101,000

- New Hope Food Shelf received a $6,000 loan from the Valley Technology Park Expanded Incubator Program

- Housing rehab loan to Dean Adams for $50,000 for Central Avenue house renovations

- CHEDA accepts Capital Fund Grant for Public Housing for $84,000

April 2020

- Crookston High School Construction Trades class shuts down CHEDA house build project early due to COVID-19 pandemic

- CHEDA and Crookston Chamber implement promotion to shop local and nearly $15,000 in Chamber Bucks went back into the community

- Air permitting process underway for Epitome Energy project

May 2020

- New Crookston Visitors Bureau asks CHEDA board to operate under CHEDA until they become their own nonprofit

- CHEDA audit wraps up; comments of staff doing a great job and being very thorough

- B3 grant to Biermaier Chiropractic for $2,052.50

- Jim Lambert shares conceptual site plan for Ag Innovation Campus

June 2020

- B3 grant goals renewed

- B3 grant to Drafts Sports Bar & Grill for $3,000

- B3 grant to Head East Salon for $5,000

- B3 grant to Functionally Fit for $4,000

July 2020

- CHEDA board and City Council members tour Selkirk on 4th in Grand Forks

- CHEDA board gives thumbs up to mixed use building in downtown Crookston and sends recommendation to the City Council to move forward with the project

- Prairie Skyline Foundation receives $47,000 line of credit from CHEDA with extension up to $75,000 for restoration project; the action would secure the historical building and Crookston skyline signature for years to come

- CHEDA Jobs Revolving Loan Program is born due to the successful grant award from USDA for an additional $99,000 into Crookston

- CHEDA resolution to recommend selling 10 acres of the Colborn property to bring Ag Innovation Campus to Crookston

August 2020

- CHS Construction Trades starts back up on Hoven Lane house

September 2020

- B3 grant to Irishman’s Shanty for $5,000

- The first CHEDA Jobs Revolving Loan Program development loan is provided to Total Lawn Care for $80,000 to assist in building a new facility and finance equipment

October 2020

- B3 grant to Real Good Bath & Body for $3,000

- B3 grant to Crookston Building Center for $4,000

- CHEDA Jobs Revolving development loan to Adams Heating & Cooling for $70,000

- Community Investment Fund loan to Gotta Love Kids daycare for $15,000

- Heroes Rise Coffee Company starts operations using existing equipment remaining from Cofe/Chickadee in same location

- CHEDA welcomes new City Administrator Amy Finch and takes Manufacturer’s Week tour highlighting primary sector employees

November 2020

- B3 grant to Heroes Rise Coffee Company for $5,000

- B3 grant to Golf Terrace Motel for $5,000

- B3 grant to Hermreck Construction for $5,000

- B3 grant to Thrivent Financial for $3,000

- B3 grant to KROX for $4,000

December 2020

- Discussion of 60-acre purchase of Nature View Estates

- Revolving loan to Fournet Building owner Jeff Evers for $100,000 for final project financing with primary lender to create the new ballroom and other community use facilities

- CHEDA working with Oakdale Cemetery on creating sustainability model

- Craig Buness takes Commissioner oath of office for CHEDA board

- Thanks to Craig Morgan for 16 years of service to CHEDA board

Housing Rehab Program 2020 Update

- 22 loans for $615,000

- Accumulative property value prior to rehabilitation $649,666

- Current accumulative value of 22 properties $1,952,600

Public Housing 2020 Update

- $1,758,512 state money brought to Crookston for Oak Court Apartments

- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program - HUD administered $872,163 to CHEDA which helped over 150 families in Crookston; CHEDA recovered $5,894.52 in fraud money

MORE ABOUT CHEDA AND WHAT THEY OFFER

The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority offers assistance with Community and Housing Information & Incentives, Building and Site Selection, Financing Alternatives, Training Opportunities, Business Start-up, Retention, Expansion & Relocation, Public Housing (Customized Living Services Available), Housing Choice and Project Based Voucher Program, and Management of Valley Technology Park (Business Incubator.)

Their Board of Commissioners consists of Kurt Heldstab (President), Leon Kremeier (VP), Betty Arvidson (Secretary), Paul Eickhof (Treasurer), Craig Buness, Tom Vedbraaten, Steve Erickson, Liaisons Wayne Melbye and Dale Stainbrook (Mayor.) Staff include Craig Hoiseth (Executive Director), Theresa Tahran (Administrative Assistant), Tiffany Jones (Housing Specialist) and Bill Tate (Maintenance Technician for Oak Court Apartments.)

VALLEY TECHNOLOGY PARK

Valley Technology Park (VTP) is a City of Crookston owned multi-tenant business incubator managed by CHEDA that is located adjacent to the University of Minnesota Crookston Campus. The mission of the VTP is to assist all tenant companies in their growth and development.

VTP had financial concerns in 2011, losing over $30,000 per year, so CHEDA developed a new strategy/structure for the building resulting in a profitable business model now having income over expenses in excess of $35,000 per year. Additionally, there have been several hundred thousands of dollars in tenant leasehold improvements. This profitability has allowed for numerous ways to creatively assist new businesses housed at VTP plus the development of an Expanded Incubation grant program and dollars appropriated to help fund a business subsidy for Epitome Energy in obtaining necessary air permits.

Housed at VTP in 2020: CHEDA, University of Minnesota Extension, United Way of Crookston, Small Business Development Center, Merlin’s Truck Brokerage, Inc., Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and Vertical Malt

VTP encourages all types of business development with a focus on new and emerging companies in the areas of technology and value-added agriculture. VTP provides access to the University, its faculty, staff, students, and other services.

VTP serves new and existing business in the region by providing flexible lease terms and rates, flexible work bays and office areas, Small Business Development Services, access to the University of Minnesota, broadband service, easy access to Agricultural Utilization & Research Institute (AURI), and easy access to student population for employee opportunities.

HOUSING

Crookston offers affordable independent and customized living housing at the Oak Court Apartments which overlook the Red Lake River. These elegant apartments are located close to downtown shopping, a senior center and medical facilities, so everything is close by. Customized living services include Nursing Care, Medication setup and reminders, Meal preparation assistance, Safety checks, Housekeeping, Laundry service, Treatment and exer- cises.

The Section 8 voucher program provides rental assistance to income eligible families. Families pay 30% - 40% if their adjusted gross income and the Housing Authority supplies the remainder. The program is a subsidized rental assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Crookston Housing Authority merged with the Economic Development Authority in 2008. The CHEDA has the ability to serve up to 215 families depending on the funding level from HUD and how much rental assistance is needed for each family.

“Over the years it has been rewarding to see how successful the program has been,” says CHEDA. “We've been able to assist several families utilizing the program to help them succeed and eventually not needing the assistance.”

“The rental assistance is used as a stepping stone to help families get back on track,” they added. “As a housing authority we do monthly inspections of properties and housing recertifications for families to remain on program. We also do several interim adjustments for families when there is changes in composition or income.”

CHEDA also manages the Oak Court property which has 66 units, and, of the 66 units, Riverview Home Health occupies one unit for their program. Riverview Health Home Care see roughly 13 clients in the building for Customized Living which operates 24 hours a day.

    “During our recent Plumbing Project we had roughly 15 units unoccupied to utilize as temp units for our residents while their apartments were being renovated,” CHEDA explained. “Since the plumbing project has come to an end we have filled about half of those units.  For some of those residents that filled the vacant apartment, we were able to provide them a home coming from a homeless shelter.”

    “There is a great need for housing in our community,” they added.

LOANS

    CHEDA Revolving Loan

    The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority Revolving Loan Fund was established by the Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority Board to strengthen and diversify businesses in Crookston.  Loans are made to businesses when credit is not otherwise available or as a supplement to private financing to ensure the successful completion of the activities to be financed.

    Generally, the CHEDA Revolving Loan Fund has the standard loan size of $5,000 to $75,000, no maximum project cost for new and existing businesses.

    Eligible Activities:  Land, building or equipment acquisition, construction or renovation, or working capital. Refinancing existing debt is generally not permitted.

    CHEDA/City IRP Loan

    Generally, the IRP Loan Fund has the standard loan size of up to $250,000 or a maximum of 75% of Project Cost (whichever is less.) There is no maximum project cost for new and existing business types.

    Eligible Activities:  Land, building or equipment acquisition, construction or renovation, working capital, debt refinancing, or transfer of ownership.

BUILDING BETTER BUSINESS (B3) GRANTS

    The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) recognize that healthy businesses play an important role in the vitality of Crookston and understand there are numerous challenges that businesses can face. The Building Better Business Program aims to help initiate, revitalize, sustain and grow businesses. This program will encourage the recruitment, growth and success of small businesses located in our city. The program is designed to provide a mechanism for CHEDA to evaluate and award incentives to qualifying businesses, located within the city limits of Crookston.

    B3 Goals:

    - Encourage entrepreneurship and new business ventures

    - Provide new and enhanced job opportunities  

    - Increase the commercial tax base in Crookston

    - Advocate community vitality and presentation

    - Occupy underutilized or vacant buildings, encouraging new investment and strengthening landlord return on investment

    The  Building  Better  Business  funds  are  for  the  purpose  of  assisting  with  various  start-up, improvement, or expansion expenses.  CHEDA looks to leverage existing investment dollars and create additional funding mechanisms with these funds.

    The program funds can be awarded for Marketing and Advertising Expenses, Signs (refurbish or replace existing and newly installed), Start-up costs (building renovation, capital), Business and/or workforce development, Storefront or building enhancement and visibility, Purchase of supplies, equipment or software, Renovations or minor repairs, Increase hours of operation, Improve community vitality, Down payments towards the lease or purchase of a commercial location, and Specific job training.

    Program funds will be up to $3,000 per business owner and applicants must provide 1:1 matching funds. Additional funds are available for the business owner who has graduated from Crookston High School ($1,000), for graduates of the University of Minnesota Crookston or Northland Community & Technical College ($1,000), or for any existing business wishing to relocate to Crookston ($2,000) payable upon successful relocation to Crookston.  

    Maximum award amount is up to $5,000 and recipients can receive a maximum of two awards with one award per calendar year.

    For more information about Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA) and all its services, visit www.crookstonheda.com

CHEDA held their May 2021 board meeting in the third floor ballroom at the Fournet Building which is being renovated by Jeff Evers.
CHEDA staff Tiffany Jones and Theresa Tahran stand by the new Crookston Visitors Bureau welcome center 
display at Valley Tech Park.
The CHEDA Board of Directors met at Oak Court in April 2021 to check out the almost-finished, multi-million dollar plumbing replacement project in the public housing facility owned by CHEDA. They also visited the roof, which needs to be replaced. Left to right are CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth and board members Kurt Heldstab, Craig Buness, Betty Arvidson, and Leon Kremeier, Oak Court head of maintenance Bill Tate, and board members Tom Vedbraaten and Don Cavalier.
CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, right, chats about the possibility of a mixed-use building in Crookston during CHEDA’s tour of Selkirk on 4th in Grand Forks in 2020
CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, third from right, and members of the CVB and Crookston City Council met with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to discuss new welcome signs for the city
Crookston High School Industrial Technology teacher Travis Oliver is pictured with students Joey Brule and Erik Coauette who helped create special fire tables for Ox Cart Days 2021 sponsored by CHEDA
Paul from Fastline Graphics displays a portion of the new city welcome sign which resulted from a CHEDA partnership