Commissioners discuss developing economy by building warehouse district along Hwy. 169

The county board of commissioners expressed interest in economic development for the Hwy. 169 corridor in an effort to intice new businesses and increase the tax base for the county. During the work session portion of the county board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 20, the commissioners discussed ideas with Robert Voss and Jordan Zeller of East Central Regional Development Commission.

Voss and Zeller explained the Economic Adjusted Assistance Program through the Economic Development Administration could provide a wide range of technical, planning and public works and infrastructure assistance in regions experiencing adverse economic changes. The EAA program can assist state and local entities through strategy grants and implementation grants. “This is an interesting federal funding opportunity,” Zeller said.

Mille Lacs County Administrator Pat Oman discussed the idea of targeting areas for warehouse districts or industrial parks for business districts.

“We are trying to get as much bang for your buck,” Oman said. “If we put people together in one location to create clusters, it’s easier to get infrastructure to one area than spread all over. They need roads, water, sewer; they need a place to put their business. A small project now may be big later.”

Oman continued by stating the Hwy. 169 corridor would be a great area for large warehouse space.

“How is this going to help new business?” Commissioner Phil Peterson said.

“We have had a very open system here to pretty much do everything,” Oman said. “But there is no water or sewer infrastructure development. We need to build that. We want to create something that is different from Isle or Princeton and Milaca. The goal here is to develop wealth and tax revenue while expanding the workforce.”

The board discussed the opportunity of applying for a 50/50 grant through the program to begin a local technical assistance Hwy. 169 study.

Oman said he is still going to apply for state money but will keep looking for federal grant 

opportunities. “Having a tribal entity is helpful in getting federal funding,” Zeller said.

More information will be available at a later date. “We try to keep it low key and out of the press,” Zeller said. “It is public information, but we don’t usually get a lot of press.”

“You’re lucky,” Commissioner Dave Oslin said.

Board briefs

The board approved support of the poverty simulation in partnership with Milaca Evangelical Free Church. The simulation is to educate the community with the reality of the barriers faced by those living in poverty.

“I have been to this program before,” Commissioner Genny Reynolds said. “It is a real eye opener. Do the role playing and see what it is like and the barriers people have to work through. I encourage you if you have the time to do attend.”

Amy Dow was sworn in as a veterans service officer. Dow is an Army veteran and “knows first hand how difficult navigating the VA system can be,” Community and Veteran Services Director Beth Crook said.

During a closed session of the board meeting for attorney-client privilege, the commissioners decided to settle a lawsuit with Jessica L. Kampschroer. The case is regarding alleged claims the county had violated Kampschroer’s right to privacy under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act. The lawsuit also was filed against Crow Wing County, Wright County and Mille Lacs County.

The settlement agreement states the defendant counties collaboratively shall pay $105,000 total including $78,750 to Jessica Kamprschroer and $26,250 to Cory Kampschroer. The counties shall pay another $275,000 to the Sapientia Law Group Trust Account to cover Kampschoer’s attorney fees.

The closed session was closed properly under the Minnesota Statute 13D.05 Sub.d. 3(b) stating it was closed for attorney-client privilege and stating the exact case, including file number, to be discussed.

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