Business incubator program tops agenda for Spring Valley EDA

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Spring Valley economic development director Cathy Enerson continued her update on the proposed guidelines for the city’s business incubator program during the most recent Economic Development Authority meeting Nov. 21.

Previously, Enerson has explained the program, “ is to encourage and support the creation of new for-profit businesses that maintain and enhance a sustainable and diverse business climate within the city of Spring Valley. Three groups participate in this, there is the entrepreneur, the EDA and the building owner and each one is collaborating to help get the entrepreneurs on their feet.”

According to Enerson, there is $8,600 set aside to fund the program, with $5,000 coming from a Southern Minnesota Initiative (SMIF) grant to develop and implement education. Another $3,600 came from the EDA to subsidize building rent.

The rent assistance would be provided in a decreasing fashion with a 30 percent subsidy or $200 a month maximum for the first six months and a 15 percent subsidy or $100 a month maximum for the remainder of the year.

“With that you are able to help, potentially, two different businesses,” Enerson said.

In addition to subsidizing rent for businesses using incubator space, there is the potential to pay up to $1,000 in taxes for over a two-year period for the parcel destroyed by the fire if it is donated to the VFW. Also, $5,000 is available to help with the green space development on that lot.

The grant goals are listed as transferring the lot destroyed by the fire, creating outdoor incubator space, and adding an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant entry, gate, holiday tree and outdoor seating accommodations. A possible inclusion of a fire pit was also included, but concerns were raised about the safety.

Another goal is to hold a mural contest with the mural being removable, in case the lot was sold.

Finally, the owner of the lot, which is proposed to be the Spring Valley VFW, and the post-fire committee would secure more funding for the lot enhancements.

“It is improving the lot for a higher and better use,” Enerson explained. “That could be to rent it out for a pop-up market or an event, it might be that they have a buyer for it and transfer it for a higher and better use. Right now, in its current state, it is not attractive and it's not as feasible.”

Education would be another major component of the program. This could involve access to capital business planning and financial projections, marketing strategies, bookkeeping and payroll and succession planning.

The board discussed potential requirements, including bi-annual meetings, access to Small Business Development Center consultation and resources and proof of lease payment to property owner, as well as contingencies for the program.

The EDA will further review the final guidelines at the next meeting set for Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 8:30 a.m.

In other business, Enerson noted Spring Valley is featured on the cover of the current issue of the University of Minnesota's Source magazine. The article focuses on Spring Valley's participation in the Extension office's Making it Home program.