News Flash

Wright County News

Posted on: June 25, 2020

Economic Development Partnership Looking To Assist Small Businesses

The Wright County Economic Development Partnership has been assisting small businesses get on their feet since 1993 with low-interest or no-interest loans. With COVID-19 creating a new problem for struggling small businesses, WCEDP is looking to step up its assistance to those business owners.

Jolene Foss, WCEDP’s executive director, came before the Wright County Board of Commissioners this week to announce that the WCEDP board of directors had approved six $5,000 no-interest loans to small businesses in the county – two in Annandale, two in Buffalo, one in Monticello and one in Montrose. WCEDP has a pool of $200,000 for revolving loan funds to assist small businesses struggling during COVID-19 closures.

Foss explained that Wright County is in a unique situation being sandwiched in between two major markets – the Twin Cities and St. Cloud – and that the potential for economic growth is available throughout the county. Although economic development can be seen as somewhat abstract to the average person, it is a driver of the local economy.

“Economic development is sometimes hard to quantify,” Foss said. “Sometimes it is hard to measure and it can be the first line item to get scratched if people are feeling the pressure of financial responsibility. I’m hoping I can show that we are good stewards of these funds. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for all of the residents within Wright County and all the individuals coming into Wright County to work. Our goal is to increase the property tax base – both commercial and residential – so that the county can thrive and continue to provide the high level of services that you already do provide.”

Wright County has experienced consistent growth over the last 30 years, both in population and the expansion of business opportunities. Commissioner Mike Potter, who sits on the WCEDP board of directors reminded the other commissioners that economic development is a long-term process that needs to be supported in order to grow and thrive.

“We’ve got to keep reminding not only ourselves but the public that economic development is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” Potter said. “It takes time. These things don’t happen overnight. You’ve got to plant the seed and you’ve got to nurture it to get it to grow. By creating the atmosphere that this is the place people want to be, that’s when you start seeing the fruits of it.”

Commissioner Darek Vetsch added that, as the way businesses are operated evolves, the WCEDP needs to be able to change with the times. Many new businesses begin out of the home and, if successful, expand and hire more workers. The combination of attracting larger corporations and the growth of cottage industries has created more opportunities for small businesses to get the help they need to be enjoy success.

“You have a lot of growth potential in Wright County,” Vetsch said. “You have a lot of people that are not familiar with the Wright County Economic Development Partnership and there a lot of people doing incubator businesses out of their garages. If we can connect you with them, I think we have a lot of growth opportunity. It’s just a matter of getting the word out there and helping find the financing they need.”

For those interested in seeing if their businesses are eligible for low-interest loans, WCEDP can be reached at (763) 477-3086

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