EDA reviews housing incentive, other items

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Spring Valley’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) managed all its business in a short time last Wednesday, Nov. 6, hearing updates from economic development director Chris Hahn and reviewing various items, such as a new housing incentive application.

Conversation opened with Hahn informing the membership that a housing incentive application had been received for approval, although the loan that the borrower plans to secure would not close until the beginning of next year.  EDA members questioned whether documentation was available, and EDA President Kim Brown and Hahn agreed that tabling the matter until the December meeting would be prudent. Action will likely be taken at that time because efforts are being made to approve it within the 2019 calendar for bookkeeping purposes. 

Hahn also introduced news on the small business development education modules that the city has received as part of its participation in the Rural Entrepreneurship Venture (REV) through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF).  He reported that the program and its webinars are available for free to Spring Valley entrepreneurs by use of access issued only by the city or EDA, and that other cities’ entrepreneurs must pay a fee to use them.  Information on how to participate is on the city’s website.    

Fillmore County’s recent housing study, a compilation of over 100 pages, garnered some attention as Hahn pointed out that a portion of the study highlights results for the Spring Valley area and notes demographics and their ability to obtain housing.  Its findings include that 67 percent of residents whose income is under $35,000 are renters, that there has been a shift of farming retirees moving into town, and that entry-level houses are estimated to cost approximately $125,000. 

The final item of discussion encompassed the approximately $130,000 Minnesota Investment Fund (MIF) designated for child care needs in the community. The EDA was allowed to transfer a certain portion of its revolving loan fund to another expenditure account under a one-time exception program of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development in May 2018. The question was raised as to what the deadline is for expending the funds and if the city would lose the funds past that deadline.

City administrator Deb Zimmer agreed to check with the state about the deadline. Following the meeting, she reported that DEED told her there is no deadline to use the exception funds.

She added that she had attended a League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) regional meeting the previous week and thought that it had been noted that the funds could be used for projects beyond what the city has considered — that the funds could be transferred to a different fund for another use besides child care if nothing in that area develops.

“I thought I heard that it could be used for anything.”  Brown said, “We want to find out and use that somewhere because that’s a significant amount.”

The EDA will finalize its 2020 budget during the Dec. 4 regular EDA meeting, the last one of the year.