What is and what does economic development organizations do? Being that there’s no one definition for economic development is why these two questions are often asked. Although economic development organizations can be a bit different in the services they provide they all tend to have the same similar goals of job creation, community growth and improving quality of life.
The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC) is just that. The AAEDC’s mission is to provide regional leadership in a collaborative effort to facilitate job growth and our vision is to see the area as a regional center sustaining a vibrant, growing economy that is attractive to businesses and to a capable, productive workforce.
“Along with our communities and businesses, the AAEDC has continued to forge strong partnerships. With assistance for our efforts, our businesses continue to create jobs, wages, and tax base; three critical components in measuring economic success and vitality. Using our economic development programs, the AAEDC assisted many of our companies with opportunities to grow and prosper in the Alexandria area and Douglas County”.
-Nicole Fernholz, AAEDC Executive Director
In in growing the embarked on and completed a strategic plan that spells out our focus for the next three years. The greatest area of need and opportunity is workforce development. The AAEDC in partnership with the Alexandria Area High School Academies and the Center of Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) network have helped prepare students for their future, whether they continue their education or step directly out into the workforce. The AAEDC also partners with the Alexandria Technical & Community College to offer regional small business trainings for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Alexandria area.
As we move forward the AAEDC is also looking to develop a process for linking housing needs and community assets to expand workforce housing options in the region. Along with expanding and diversifying the pipeline of skilled workers for the Alexandria area businesses both current and prospective. In assisting those efforts, expanding visibility of the Living Alexandria Area marketing efforts to both future workforce and businesses.
The AAEDC also offers many different services for startup or expanding businesses.
- Business Planning: The AAEDC works with a wide variety of businesses and individuals to assist in the business planning process. We create and analyze financial projections to identify potential needs of the business. Within the financial packaging and planning process, the AAEDC does not recommend any specific commercial lending institution(s) to clients.
- 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.
- Financial Incentives: Our organization works with new and existing businesses on startup and growth projects, some of which can be supported through incentive programs including, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Tax Abatement, Industrial Revenue Bonds, and the State of Minnesota’s Job Opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) program. In addition to commercial tax incentives, the AAEDC has Revolving Loan Funds at its disposal to assist businesses with growth and expansion projects in the area. Funds are specifically used in coordination with primary financing through a financial institution and cannot be used as the primary means of project financing.
- Demographic Information: The AAEDC strives to be a demographics, statistics, and information clearing house for our area and produces different publications each year focusing on the growth and changes of our communities and all of Douglas County.