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CHEDA News and Notes - Rural Business Development Grant awarded; CHS CT class will rehab a house in 2020-21

Mike Christopherson
mchristopherson@crookstontimes.com

    A Rural Business Development Grant awarded to CHEDA by the USDA will result in a new, $200,000 revolving loan fund.

    The CHEDA Board of Directors in March, with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic first starting to be felt in a significant way in the region, approved a $101,000 local match that, when added to $99,000 in USDA funds, would add up to a $200,000 loan fund. The local dollars will come from $350,000 that the Crookston City Council last year allocated to CHEDA to be invested in strategic economic development initiatives. The fund since the council’s allocation has been deemed CHEDA’s “Community Investment Fund.”

    CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth says the $101,000 will be transferred to a new account that will be paired with the $99,000 to launch the new revolving loan fund. Both the City of Crookston and CHEDA have had other revolving loan programs in place for years, but Hoiseth said the new loan fund will be a bit different.

    “(Loans) could (be given) for COVID things, but (the USDA program) is designed to be a bit more risky than what we typically do,” Hoiseth explained, adding that CHEDA will work closely with USDA Rural Development in implementing the new program.

    “This is a good deal,” CHEDA Board Member Craig Morgan says. “We’re always trying to leverage dollars to make more (dollars), and this does that.”

Construction Trades

    The plan for the 2019-20 Construction Trades program at Crookston High School was to have the students and teacher Travis Oliver do as much work on the new home site on Hoven Lane before the end of the school year, and then let the Northwest Minnesota Housing Cooperative and contractor partner finish it. Hoiseth said the plan was for the house to be finished and sold by now.

    But with school being shut down last March, he said the plan now, if there is in-person instruction this fall, is to let this year’s CT class finish the Hoven Lane house, likely by November.

    As for the rest of the school year, again, if there is in-person instruction, Hoiseth said, rather than trying to secure another lot and launch construction on a new house, Oliver and Jeff Fagerstrom from NWMHC agree that purchasing a blighted house somewhere in Crookston and having the students spend the rest of the school year renovating it would be a productive use of their time.

    Hoiseth said the next step would be to scout the community to find a suitable property.