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
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.