Spring Valley to host development tour

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Spring Valley will be one of four stops this year on an annual regional development tour, economic development director Chris Hahn told the Spring Valley Economic Development Authority Wednesday morning, Feb. 4, during its monthly meeting.

Hahn gave a short presentation on plans for an investors’ and developers’ tour of four communities in the region, explaining that tour is open to individuals who wish to see what’s available in smaller communities for investments, home construction opportunities and business development.  The annual tour outside Rochester during the summer enables the group to learn about economic activity, opportunities and interesting facts about each community.

The annual tour had originally been hosted by the Journey to Growth regional organization, which was formed to foster growth of communities outside of Rochester as the city of Rochester prepared for the Destination Medical Center initiative to make the city easier for visitors to the Mayo Clinic to navigate and for people who are employed with Mayo to find the housing they need. Now that Journey to Growth has ended, the tour was picked up as a project of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), the economic development firm for which he works. 

This year’s CEDA investment tour will take participants to Spring Grove, Lanesboro, Lake City and Spring Valley, which are also the four communities involved in the three-year Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) project.

“It’s a neat chance for people to come to Spring Valley and for us to show what we have going on in our town…we can give them a snapshot of what we have in our town, maybe point them downtown and get a chance to highlight the community,” Hahn said. “So, we’re excited about that.”

In other matters, local business investments – both actual and potential – were included on Hahn’s list of items to present to the EDA. He included the recent expansion of Ace Hardware to the former Alco store on the highway from its corner store just off the highway or the potential for a local couple interested in purchasing a space to open a bakery and how to locate a suitable storefront for that purpose. Hahn has offered the EDA’s assistance to the new owner of the former Ace building in finding a new occupant. 

City Council member Chris Danielson shared that she feels that the relocation of the hardware store to a larger building with room for triple its inventory “is really great for the town.” 

The EDA briefly conversed about how to remain active in REV, a program of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, as Spring Valley was one of the pilot communities engaged in REV’s tenets of lending a hand to existing and prospective business owners in making their business plans reality.  REV is entering its second cycle and capturing the attention of a new collection of communities, but Spring Valley’s EDA hopes to serve as a mentorship entity for those new towns. 

Also, a good portion of the meeting was spent discussing marketing options and how to reach potential audiences, as Hahn observed, “We have tourists, but we want residents.” 

The only action item on the EDA’s agenda was approving Hahn’s membership in the Spring Valley Kiwanis Club, as is customary for the town’s EDA director.