The first full week in May is an exciting one for us at the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC), we are celebrating National Economic Development Week, May 6th through 11th and National Small Business Week, May 5th through the 11th. To kick off the first part of the week, we will be announcing the winner of the first Pitch Your Plan – Business Challenge on May 7, 2019.
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. The AAEDC provides services to all of Douglas County, there are several programs and initiatives that help market the entire region to attract new businesses and workforce, as well as assist in retaining and expanding the businesses and workers that currently reside here.
- 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 startup 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 the area. 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:Since 2002, the AAEDC has delivered hundreds of millions of dollars of incentives to area employers. We have many incentive programs that are designed to support successful business growth. One of those is our 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. A new loan program through the AAEDC is a Micro Loan. This is a direct loan, funds may be used for all costs demonstrated as essential for the project, including working capital, inventory, machinery and equipment, building and leasehold improvements. Eligible applicants include any for-profit small business located in Douglas County, Minnesota.
- 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 commercial buildings and land 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:Our office partners 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, and 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.
For more than 50 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.