MARSHALL - Building a strong regional economy is a task that takes teamwork, speakers at a regional business summit said earlier this week.
The second annual Lyon County Business Summit was held Monday at the Schwan Community Center for the Performing Arts in Marshall. Speakers included representatives of Lyon County's economic development organization, the city of Marshall and area businesses including Mid-Continent Cabinetry, Archer Daniels Midland, Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center and Runnings.
"Tonight is really more of an education," on area businesses and economic development opportunities, said Lyon County Economic Development Authority Director Cal Brink.
The summit began with updates on the progress of the Discover Southwest Minnesota Partnership, a county-wide economic development organization. Brink said the partnership had its beginnings in talks about starting a county EDA in 2009 and was formalized this year. The city of Marshall, the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce and Lyon County are all partners in the administration of the group, and Lyon County cities are members.
Brink said one of the first achievements of the partnership has been to create a website, www.discoversouthwestmn.com, which helps advertise and promote business opportunities in the county. Information on the site includes local contact information for economic development, listings of property available for development, local business directories and community information. Brink said some of the organization's ongoing projects include advertising the partnership and marketing available development opportunities.
Marshall City Administrator Ben Martig agreed that southwest Minnesota communities will need to work together to encourage development.
"We're too small to be moving in different directions," he said.
While Marshall has kept its tax rates the same in 2011 and 2012, Martig said the trend of Local Government Aid cuts from the state will continue to have an impact.
Martig also updated the audience on planned development projects in Marshall. Recent additions to the city include expansion of the Marshall industrial park and road access connecting it with Minnesota Highway 68, and beautification projects like the murals painted in the downtown area. Martig said future projects being planned in the Marshall area range from development of an assisted living facility on the site of the former Marshall Middle School, to development on the east side of the city airport and a possible bike trail connecting Marshall, Lynd and Camden State Park.
Another possible development, a proposed amateur sports center in Marshall, would be another opportunity for the region, said Southwest Regional Amateur Sports Commission co-chairman Roger Madison. He said the center would take existing sports facilities in Marshall and expand on them, attracting visitors to the area and providing more opportunities for business development. Expansions of the Minnesota Emergency Response and Industrial Training Center would be a similar opportunity to bring people to the Marshall area. It also helps, he said, that both projects would offer something not available elsewhere in the region.
"One of the key reasons that both of these projects make sense is we're in the right place for it," Madison said.
Surrounding communities, including Tracy, Cottonwood, Minneota, Slayton and Redwood Falls, have signed resolutions of support for the sports center, Madison said.
While the proposed sports center was not included in this year's Minnesota state bonding bill, Madison said its supporters plan to keep trying to get state funding for the project. Votes on Marshall sales and hospitality taxes to support the proposed sports center and MERIT Center expansions will also be held in November.