Economic Development Week May 8-13

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) is excited to be celebrating National Economic Development Week, May 8th through 13th in the Alexandria area.

“National Economic Development Week is a wonderful way to bring increased awareness to those development programs that enhance the local economic impact. We as the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission continue to strive in promoting and strengthening our community in many facets.” – Nicole Fernholz, Executive Director, Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission

What is Economic Development? By definition economic development is the efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base.  Even though there isn’t a typical “one size fits all” all Economic Development Organization’s (EDO) assist in developing vibrant communities and creating high-quality jobs, but there is no single strategy, policy or program used for achieving successful economic development

An EDO can service a city, county, region or state – our Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) provides services to all of Douglas County. The services an EDO provides also vary by organization. One organization may focus heavily on workforce development while another may look largely at downtown development and revitalization. The AAEDC has a number of programs that help market the entire region to attract new businesses, as well as assist in retaining and expanding the businesses that currently reside here.

(Courtesy: “One on One” with Joe Korkowski – Voice of Alexandria)

  • Demographic Information: Our office puts out the annual Alexandria Area Facts Guide which is a community profile providing a demographic and statistical overview of Douglas County. This data is used not only by prospective companies looking to relocate to the area but also by individuals looking to move to our community or local businesses who are undergoing strategic planning.
  • Business Planning and Startup: If you have an idea for a business start–up and are unsure of the steps to make it happen, the AAEDC office can assist you in all aspects of the journey to start and grow a business. AAEDC services are completely confidential and provided free of charge to the businesses and residents of Douglas County. We also partner with other entities to be a full-service stop – the West Central Regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultants will meet with entrepreneurs and small business owners during this time and provide cost-free, confidential consulting and assistance services.
  • Financial Assistance: We have a Revolving Loan Fund Program that supplies small businesses and entrepreneurs with the gap financing needed to start or expand their business. Revolving Loan Funds (RLF’s) have become an increasingly popular business financing tool because of the ability to leverage public and private dollars, as well as the bonus of recycling these funds within a community. As the RLF receives the principal and interest from outstanding loans, the money is made available to another borrower. RLF funds are available to businesses within Douglas County.
  • Site Selection Assistance: In a continuously growing effort to assist area realtors and property owners in marketing commercial properties throughout the area, the state, and the nation, the AAEDC maintains two supplemental property listing databases of “for-sale” and “for lease” properties throughout Douglas County. These databases are free for the listing of commercial properties in Douglas County and serve as a database of properties that can be easily accessed by individuals, businesses, and site selectors from throughout the nation.
  • Workforce Development: The AAEDC has launched a campaign called Living Alexandria Area with the intention of creating awareness and attraction of potential workforce to the Alexandria area. Our office works closely with the Academies of Alexandria to help provide them with new opportunities in hopes of finding a career, whether they continue their education or step directly into the workforce. The AAEDC also partners with the Alexandria Technical and Community College – Customized Training Center to offer regional training’s and development for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Economic Development Week was created and is coordinated by The International Economic Development Council. It is being held during the week of the organization’s 91st anniversary as the largest professional membership organization for economic developers. 2017 will be the second consecutive year Economic Development Week was coordinated by IEDC. More than 75 communities participated in the 2016 campaign. A memorial keepsake booklet was created to showcase celebration activities communities across the country hosted. More than 40 members of Congress, county and local elected officials had resolutions and proclamations signed. The Economic Development Administration also issued a statement commemorating Economic Development Week.  

“This national event helps communities recognize economic development practitioners and shed light on their programs and their role in stimulating job creation by businesses in their community. This program helps us all share information on two priorities; informing community leaders about the value of economic development, and ensuring that everyone in our communities have the opportunity to succeed through access to a good job.” -F. Michael Langley FM, CEO, Greater MSP, Minneapolis – St. Paul, MN, IEDC 2017 Board Chair.

Living, Alexandria Area, relocating, small business, moving

Celebrating Small Business!!!

We had a wonderful time celebrating National Small Business Week (April 30-May 6) at the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission! We had the opportunity to celebrate and showcase some of the many great small businesses in the Alexandria area. Joined by city and county officials we toured four different small business types – starting with Alex Assisted Living, followed by Geneva Beach Resort & Sugarbush Lodge, then Creations, An Event Studio and last Copper Trail Brewing Company. We were able to tour their businesses, find out how they got started, and new developments in their business or industry. Make sure to click the business links above to find out even more about these area businesses.

Also, check out below for a few of the photos from the tour, and follow us on Facebook: @LivingAlexAreaMN and Instagram: @LivingAlexArea to see more photos and videos.

Alexandria Area High School, Future Workforce

Endless Opportunities to Engage with Our Future Workforce

The Academies of Alexandria are continuously looking for volunteers to partner and interact with our future workforce within the four academies; Business, Communication & Entrepreneurship (BCE), Health Sciences & Human Services (HSHS), Engineering, Manufacturing, Technologies & Natural Resources (EMTNR) and Freshman Academy. The latest program seeking partnerships is CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies). What is CAPS? Alexandria CAPS is an innovative program at the high school that focuses on immersing students in authentic career experiences.

CAPS is designed to help students increase professional skills needed for working in the real world, whether college is next or stepping directly into the workforce. These skills are developed through hands-on, project based experiences while working in a professional setting. With the help of the community, these unique experiences are possible.

Each academy is hosting a CAPS Showcase to learn about the positive impact of partnering with a CAPS class, as well as hearing from past students and business partners talk about their experience with the new program. Learn how you can get involved. These dedicated partnerships build a pipeline for future workforce in the area.

Entrepreneurship Health Technologies

AAEDC Board Member Julie Critz Receives Award

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission would like to congratulate one of it’s board members, Julie Critz, Superintendent of the Alexandria Public Schools, on being named from The Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) as the recipient of the 2017 Kay E. Jacobs Memorial Award!

The award recognizes excellent leadership and involvement in MASA and other educational organizations by an administrator who is a woman with ten or less years of school district central office experience. Critz will be honored for her leadership, concern for students and active involvement in professional and community affairs at a statewide recognition ceremony during the MASA/MASE Spring Conference, March 9-10, 2017, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Park.

“I have worked with Julie as a colleague and as her mentor in our region and I believe Julie is one of the exceptional educational leaders in Minnesota. Her expertise and knowledge have helped her as the superintendent in Alexandria,” said Lynne Kovash, Superintendent of the Moorhead Area Public Schools. “Julie has worked with teachers and the community to research, develop and continually test the idea of academies that guided the facility. Because of her efforts, Alexandria High School has been recognized nationally for the programming as well as the flexible, innovative facility.”

During Critz’s time at Alexandria Public Schools, she has been responsible for all academic programming and professional development across the district. She has provided leadership, oversight and facilitation to an ambitious and visionary group of people who set out to design a new academic program built around career-focused, small learning communities. The new program, known as the “Academies of Alexandria,” is a model based upon the authentic and real life application of learning objectives traditionally taught in classrooms. The new model necessitated many changes, including a transition from a six period to four period schedule, an infusion of problem based learning, establishment of career pathways and many new courses, implementation of a 1:1 initiative, and the creation of collaborative digital classrooms.

The Memorial Award was established in 1983 in honor of Kay E. Jacobs, an outstanding young administrator of many achievements who died in a car accident in 1979. At the time of her death, Ms. Jacobs was the assistant superintendent for the Mahtomedi Schools and had just been nominated, through a national screening process, for membership in the 38th Annual Superintendents’ Work Conference at Teachers’ College, Columbia University. This was a distinct honor, because only forty-five outstanding chief school officers from school systems throughout the United States had been invited to participate. The Memorial Award recognizes women administrators who have demonstrated the attributes of leadership and involvement early in their careers as Kay Jacobs did.

Each year, MASA recognizes members for their contribution to public education. MASA is a professional organization of Minnesota’s school leaders, including superintendents, assistant superintendents, directors of special education, and other central office administrators, as well as state department administrators, college, and university professors, and other educators throughout Minnesota dedicated to educational leadership for students.

Living Alexandria Area Micropolitan

Top Micropolitan in Minnesota

Our Alexandria and Douglas County community is ever growing and expanding, and this last year was no exception. Alexandria, Minnesota was ranked in the 2016 Top Micropolitans in the United States for new or expanding facilities by Site Selection Magazine. The magazine has been ranking communities since 1988, and ranked 575 of the nation’s micropolitan areas this year. Alexandria was ranked number one for the state of Minnesota, and tied for fifty-one in the nation, based upon the number of qualifying business construction or expansion projects in 2016.

“The Alexandria area is proud to be ranked in the top micropolitans in the U.S. again this year, and as the #1 micropolitan in Minnesota,” said Nicole Fernholz, Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission Director.

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission was able to submit three projects that met Site Selections qualifications. Knute Nelson’s 195,000 square foot expansion, Stone Manor’s 140,000 square foot housing complex and Beverage Wholesalers 61,000 square foot warehouse.

The micropolitan statistical area (MSA) is defined as one or more adjacent counties that have at least one urban core area of between 10,000 to 50,000, plus adjacent territory that has a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties.

Qualifying projects must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Project cost (at least $1 million)
  • Number of new jobs created (at least 50)
  • New square footage (at least 20,000)

Click HERE to learn more about the Alexandria Area

Minnesota Ranked 3rd Best State

The U.S. News and World Report ranked Minnesota as the 3rd best state in the nation. The report cites Minnesota’s economic opportunities, education and quality of health care as factors also ranking Minnesota as the #1 state in the region.

“This ranking affirms what we already know: we live in one of the very best states in the country”
– Governor Mark Dayton.

Category National Ranking Regional Ranking
Opportunity 2 1
Infrastructure 5 1
Health Care 3 1
Education 11 1
Economy 12 2
Crime and Corrections 17 3
Government Administration 24 5

The data driving these rankings were drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources as well as proprietary data including a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country. Among the seven main categories measured in the Best States rankings, more than five dozen subcategories of metrics are taken into account. – U.S. News

Livability

Livability and Growth

In 1990, the Commission was created to provide economic growth and stability by supporting existing businesses, or by attracting new industry, while ensuring the protection of our natural resources and quality of life.  Twenty-six years later, our organization continues to forge ahead, doing more with less and meeting the demands of our communities and businesses, all while staying focused on and achieving our mission.

Through our work in 2016, $17,000,000 was devoted to our community. Those are local dollars being invested into the place where we work and raise our families. A community that continues to grow and is consistently ranked as a premiere place to live.

And although economic development has traditionally been viewed as job creation, we also must focus on the livability of our community. Without being a desirable place to live, we will not have the workforce pipeline needed to enable our companies to grow. The workforce shortage is not unique to our area, but it is central to our approach of economic development. Focusing on long-term workforce efforts for our industry clusters is key to economic prosperity in a community.

We are extremely proud of our accomplishments over the past year, and we look forward to continuing our work; partnering with businesses throughout the region in creating and retaining jobs and investments in our communities in 2017.  Our success represents the work of many people throughout our area.  The interest, participation and support from our business leaders and elected official were essential to the success of this organization.

Looking to start or expand your business? Click HERE for more information

Know someone looking at relocating to the area? Click HERE for more information

 

starting your own business

Want to start your own business…now what?

Estimates vary, but generally more than 625,000 businesses are started each year in the United States. Yet for every American who actually starts a business, there are likely many more who intend to start a business, but don’t. There are many explanations why people don’t take that step into entrepreneurship, but in my experience, there are three common reasons.

Everyone has his own roadblock, something that prevents him from taking that crucial first step. But generally, most people are simply afraid to start; they may fear the unknown, failure, or even success. Others are overwhelmed in the false belief they have to start completely from scratch. They believe they need a product that no one has ever done before—the next big invention or unique service.

Entrepreneurship is scary and it’s not for the timid. But I don’t define timid as fearful. It’s not that it takes tremendous amounts of courage, but you do need a certain tenacity to hit the ground running every morning, and to get back up when you’ve been knocked to the ground.

Secondly, people wonder if it’s good time to start their business idea. Honestly, there’s really never a bad time to launch a business. Clearly it is smart to launch in strong economic times because people have money and are looking for ways to spend it. However, launching in uncertain economic times can be just as smart. Presumably there’s a need for the business you’re starting, and because many people are reluctant to launch in tough times, your new business has a better chance of getting noticed.

Finally, there’s the belief that starting a business is a mysterious process. Entrepreneurs know they want to start a business, but they don’t know the first steps to take. That’s where our office can help – we have the tools that can help you figure out what it is you want to do and then how to take action on it.

Click HERE for more information, or HERE to contact our office!

Honoring Carlos Creek Winery

The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission and the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce had the pleasure of honoring Carlos Creek Winery as the 2016 Business and Industrial Appreciation Day recipient. As we’re wrapping up this year’s event we can’t help but feel pride at having our third highest attendance with 390 community members showing their congratulations and support for Carlos Creek Winery. It really shows how much Carlos Creek Winery is involved in the community and what an excellent job they have done with helping everyone fall in love with their winery.

Since 1984, an outstanding Alexandria area business or organization has been selected as the BIAD recipient and has been honored for their significant contribution to the social and economic vitality of the Douglas County region through creation of jobs, business investment, and community development efforts and Carlos Creek Winery is no exception. This celebration has been recognized as one of the largest and longest standing annual events of its type in greater Minnesota with attendance from regional citizens, business persons, and government officials from the area. We can’t begin to express our appreciation for all that Carlos Creek Winery does for our community…but we do want to say thank you…and we are so glad you are a part of what makes our area a great place to live and work.

Also, we wanted to say thank you to all of the wonderful people and businesses that helped and contributed to this year’s event…without all of you we wouldn’t be able to honor such a deserving business every year!

If you weren’t able to make it to this year’s BIAD, please make sure to check out this wonderful video about this year’s honoree, Carlos Creek Winery:

Employment Law, Manufacturing

Area Manufacturing & Development

Manufacturing Week, October 2nd-8th, is designed to showcase Minnesota’s diverse manufacturing and technology industries in order to increase legislative and public awareness of their importance in providing high-wage and high-skilled jobs for our communities.

The manufacturing industry is a dynamic segment of Minnesota’s economy, and an integral part of Minnesota’s economic development strategy.

  • Manufacturing has the second largest total payroll among business sectors in Minnesota, providing $20 billion in wages.
  • Manufacturing contributed almost $48.2 billion to the Minnesota economy 2015, and is the second-largest industry (16 percent) contributing to our private gross domestic product.
  • Manufactured exports brought $18.9 billion into the Minnesota economy in 2015.
  • Manufacturing provides over 317,200 highly skilled, high paying jobs, which significantly contribute to Minnesota’s high standard of living and economic vitality.
  • The Alexandria area is home to four of the world’s leading manufacturers of automated packaging machines, marking the region as one of the leaders in technology development and innovation for this industry.
  • Equipment designed, engineered, and manufactured by Alexandria area companies is utilized by businesses across the United States and around the world.
  • Manufacturing is one of the top employing industries in the Alexandria area with 18% of it’s jobs.

On behalf of the Board of  Directors and Staff of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, we would like to thank our manufacturing and support industries for their crucial role in the continued success and growth of our communities.