The EDA office has been busy in my first 10 months as the new Economic Development Director. A lot of great things have happened in less than one year. The Industrial Park is in a growth phase, selling 14 acres to three separate businesses for development; Van Diest of Iowa is building a 36,000 sq.ft. warehouse and a separate office on just under 10 acres; they will employ six at this location; L.A. Construction purchased a three-acre parcel to build a new office and workshop; Specialty Manufacturing purchased the two acres next to them for future expansion.

Keeping with revitalization strategies, the EDA opened its Façade Program this summer to businesses on Hwy. 212. Façade improvement programs are incentive programs created to encourage property owners and businesses to improve the exterior appearance of their buildings and storefronts. We received nine applications, after review and discussion, the EDA Board moved to approve six of the applications. Recipients are: 758 Hwy. 212, 1316 Hwy. 212, 665 Hwy. 212, 164 Hwy. 212, 176 Hwy. 212 and 770 Hwy. 212.

The City of Granite Falls is the newest Minnesota Network Community. Network Community is a Main Street Approach that harnesses the social, economic, physical and cultural assets of a downtown district. The Main Street program helps small cities maximize their people and build assets by following the four core principles of the program: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality. A thriving downtown has a powerful impact on a community—being a Network Community is an effective approach to building a sustainable community.

Small towns and rural communities throughout the United States are looking for ways to strengthen their economies, provide better quality of life, and build on local assets. One of those ways to help strengthen our community is through the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP). Over the summer and late this fall, surveys were mailed throughout Granite Falls regarding the Small Cities Development Program. SCDP helps cities with funding for housing, public infrastructure and commercial rehabilitation projects. We had a positive response and received upward of 100 applications. Recently, the EDA was notified that our application was considered “competitive” and will move on to the next round of evaluations.

If you haven’t taken a stroll along the riverfront behind the K.K. Berge building, head over to view the first in a series of murals by Riverside Voices Art Project. The mural was made possible through a grant from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, the Granite Falls Arts Council and the EDA. We were awarded a grant for $15,700.00 to facilitate painting a mural on the City flood wall.

One doesn’t have to go too far to hear about a family who’s struggling with a need for local childcare. Over the summer the Granite Falls area was hard-hit when a long-standing childcare center closed its center. The already stressed need was exacerbated and became an urgent need overnight. We are proud to announce that the EDA has been working with co-owners of the brand-new learning center, Puddle Jumpers, to assist them in getting their business off the ground; they plan to open in June 2018. Puddle Jumpers is a homegrown example of local entrepreneurs following their dreams of small business ownership.

Housing is another project the EDA is working toward expanding. One proposed plan would be the Mooney/Palmer development, which consists of owner occupied and rental 2-story townhomes. There is a growing need for 3-bedroom, 2-bath homes in the area, this development would put Granite Falls on the path to fulfilling a much-needed housing shortage. We are in the process of seeking partnerships with developers to assist the City in expanding its housing stock. Share the news that Granite Falls is the place to live and work and we are open for business.

According to Sherry Mathiowetz at Hughes Real Estate “Hughes Real Estate has been involved with 26 sides of the 42 homes that were sold through the MLS in Granite Falls. Nine of these properties were country homes – country homes were the hot properties on the market this year.” Tammy Edman of Exit Reality also reported, “As of 12/18/17, EXIT Realty Scenic Valley has sold 30 of the 46 properties in Granite Falls to date with the average sold price being $109,185.  We have listed 34 homes for sale this year with the median list price being $103,173.”

Lastly, the whitewater feature has gained positive support from the community, and continues to move forward. As we enter the new year further details will be discussed as they unfold at our upcoming meetings.

The accomplishments of the EDA represent a dynamic economy that is on the tipping point of great things to come in 2018 and beyond. I look forward to an expanding future and embarking on all the wonderful economic development opportunities available to Granite Falls. Stop by my office anytime to discuss opportunities for Granite Falls. We are here to help turn a hobby into a business, assistance with beginning or buying a new business, and assistance with preparing an exit strategy for a mature business.

The Granite Falls EDA is your advocate for matters that are vital to your business. We create and maintain a strong, vibrant, local economy.