EDA welcomes new director

By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Spring Valley’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) welcomed its new director, Chris Hahn, from Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), to the July 3 EDA meeting, along with City Council member Chris Danielson to foster greater communication between the EDA and City Council following the abrupt termination of Spring Valley’s previous EDA director, who was also contracted through CEDA to provide economic development guidance.

Hahn encouraged the EDA and City Council to collaborate on finding a mission and vision statement for the EDA as a means of better marketing Spring Valley as a place to live, work or own a business, and he brought a slide presentation on the process of developing both a mission statement and a vision statement, something the EDA has done, but not the council.  He pointed out that mission statements for various companies, including Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Chik-fil-A don’t necessarily have language related to their specific product or service, but that they set the “what” and “why” for the companies, making way for the building of a vision statement – something that sets goals for a company, or, in this case, a city. 

The city, aspiring toward growth, should establish a mission statement that tells who the people who live here are and why they do what they do in pursuing a life in Spring Valley, said Hahn. 

“The ‘why’ is that you want a healthy economy in your community,” he said. “It’s about the future and where the community is headed. 

“The reason we do this is because when you think about Spring Valley, you have to move forward with a mission and a vision…that it’s not about ‘this building’ or ‘that building,’ but about the experience that people have with the community, maximizing what you have and getting an idea of the feeling people get when they come to Spring Valley.  As an EDA, you have to make sure you’re an effective organization.” 

He remarked that that includes strategic planning, maintaining objectives and making sure that the mission and what Spring Valley needs match up with its goals, or compiling an instruction manual for what the city and EDA want to see happen in the coming months or years, as well as using social media and other media outlets regularly to inform residents and potential residents and business owners of what’s available to them in EDA-offered incentives that assist them with their projects.  He noted that the mission and vision statements should be revisable so that the EDA and city don’t become adhered to one specific mission or vision that does not fit after time has passed, and that building a story to tell visitors or potential business owners about Spring Valley will increase the likelihood that the town has opportunities for growth. 

One of the EDA’s members questioned, “Do we have any kind of mission or vision statement at this point?”

After another said that there was indeed a mission statement included on the EDA’s website, Hahn acknowledged that the EDA and the City Council, during their joint meeting held in June, were apparently seeking the same goal – growth of the city, both residential and commercial – and that taking a look at all of the information from local organizations, businesses and the school district might provide insight on the community’s personality, what its people need and how they see themselves as members of the community as a means of compiling a story that tells about the town. 

Hahn suggested that the EDA consider tracking the volunteer hours rendered in Spring Valley to show that people who live here are willing to give of their time to help other people, something that would attract new residents or entrepreneurs. 

“Community volunteerism is a huge asset.  It shows an engaged community,” he said. “Right now, the value of a volunteer hour in Minnesota is $28.15, and that means that if you have eight people volunteering for 12 hours, it equates to ‘X’ amount because you count all the hours that people have worked.  That’s something that a lot of companies and organizations are taking advantage of.” 

EDA President Kim Brown stated, “It’d be pretty extensive to track all of it.” 

Hahn agreed, but countered, “It’s another way to show that volunteerism is a great part of your culture.”

Danielson commented that she hadn’t witnessed any growth or change in Spring Valley’s population and had recently encountered someone who commutes to town to work here but lives elsewhere. She asked the person why the individual didn’t choose to live here, and the reply she received was related to lack of housing. 

The EDA’s membership concurred that that’s the state of things at the moment, but with the visible establishment of a mission and vision statement, that could change as better marketing strategies evolve. 

When asked to share his slide presentation with the entire City Council, he stated that it would be possible and agreed that it would foster collaboration between the City Council and the EDA. 

Mayor Tony Archer said that he’d been on the City Council for 13 years but that over that time, the council had taken a lot of action on various projects put forth by the EDA but not gotten to share the complete information about those projects. 

“By doing this, it really makes a lot of difference,” he said. The next question he had was, “What is our agenda, other than taking care of day-to-day (business)?” 

Setting a course for the EDA will involve “time and conversation,” according to Hahn, but once it’s been mapped, there’s promise of marketing that reaches more people and engages them more quickly. 

In other business, the EDA reviewed revolving loans – including the loans that Racks and Chateau de Chic have, which are nearing their completion, and another that has not been paid for several months.  The members discussed how to recoup the funds and whether small claims court might be an option. 

Hahn reported that Grover Auction will be conducting an open house of the Spring Valley Bakery on Aug. 10 to garner interest in the building, noting that the likelihood of someone opening it as a bakery is not high because of the cost of replacing ovens and equipment that had been grandfathered in for code requirements under ownership of Peter and Brenda Haack. 

Also, an inquiry was made as to the work being done on the Making It Home program for which studies were conducted over a year ago and groups of a total of 75 residents convened to find direction in marketing Spring Valley as a place to live; the initiative was meant to show potential residents the same things that the EDA hopes to include on its website when updating the mission and vision statement for the town.

The next EDA meeting is slated for Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 a.m. at Spring Valley’s City Hall, downtown Spring Valley. Meetings are open to the public.