Local business support, workforce top the East Grand Forks 2023 priority list, among other city needs
Jan. 30—EAST GRAND FORKS — Workforce has and continues to remain a top priority in East Grand Forks, and the city's Economic Development Authority plans to support the programs and incentives in place to help small businesses in need.
One of those is the Northwest Small Business Development Center, which is locally housed at the University of Minnesota Crookston. Paul Gorte, the city's economic development director, said the NWSBDC offers a free service that advises people who want to start a business.
"They would help talk through the issues of setting up the business, how to run a business and how to help the business survive," Gorte said.
Having a service that provides both a business plan and financial plan is vital for ensuring a business is successful, according to Gorte.
"We think it's important," he said. "If you have an idea that you want to start a business, we want it to be able to be profitable."
The center is funded from state and local contributions. Gorte said the EDA provides $10,000 for yearly expenses.
The city also works with the Northwest Private Industry Council, a private, nonprofit organization that provides training services for businesses across northwest Minnesota.
Continued support to the business community is one of the EDA's top priorities for 2023 and was a priority for the city last year as well. City officials regularly meet with business leaders to go over the problems they're facing. The EDA administers revolving loan programs with between $1.5 and $2 million available for businesses this year.
In addition to support for local businesses, another top EDA priority for 2023 is continued support for the Northern Valley Careers and the Wave Academy. Both aim to get high school students interested in careers that are available in the region.
The Northern Valley Career Expo, which was held for the
10th year in 2022
, brings in approximately 1,800 high school students from northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota to explore high-wage, in-demand careers in the region.
has been in place for three years and is run through East Grand Forks Senior High School. The academy helps connect students with local employers in careers they possibly want to pursue. Students start in the academy as freshmen and finish as seniors. Throughout the four years, they learn about how to apply their interests to a career and are able to receive job shadowing and internship opportunities.
Several other priorities for 2023 were approved by the EDA Board at its meeting late last year. Those priorities include:
* "Child care." The need for child care has also been highlighted throughout the past year. The city started working with the Rural Child Care Innovation Program, which is run by nonprofit First Children's Finance and funded jointly by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Michigan Department of Education. Public input meetings held in early 2022 allowed parents and child care providers to share their thoughts and a Community Solution Action Plan was created. Work on implementing a
child care foundation
with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation is being pursued.
"Increasing industrial space — land and buildings." Gorte said increasing industrial space is a high priority, but there has to be a way to pay for the expansion. The goal is to work in conjunction with the establishment of businesses, which will provide some of the funding so the cost doesn't have to be absorbed locally.
"It has to be tied to something where we're going to have some revenues," Gorte said
* "Sale of city lots." The city owns several residential lots and hopes to continue to sell them off.
* "Bridges and infrastructure." Continued support centers on the proposed inter-city and Merrifield bridge projects, which would add two more connections between Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Gorte said other infrastructure needs relate to ensuring the city has adequate infrastructure to serve the commercial and industrial areas of the city.