The Mabel EDA (Economic Development Authority) met on Wednesday, Aug. 13, to discuss matters including the community center, recently purchased downtown buildings, the proposed grocery store cooperative and the result of inquiries to retail businesses to locate in Mabel.
The EDA reviewed the results from inquiries to various grocery-related retail stores about the possibility of expanding in Mabel. It was reported to the EDA that WalMart may be considering the possibility as the company looks to expand its smaller Neighborhood Market stores into rural communities.
The Neighborhood Market started in the metro areas — like Chicago. However, Mayor Brian Street reported, “They’ve had their fifth quarter in a row where their sales are down so they’re looking at expanding Neighborhood Markets into smaller towns to get their sales up. Whether or not they would with one 25 miles down the road, but you go to Missouri or Arkansas there is one every 10 miles.”
Committee members indicated they have inquired with several other grocery-related retailers. City Clerk Karen Larson reported to the News-Record that the owners of Shopko, Red’s Hometown Market in Spring Grove, Rushford, Preston and Harmony Foods, Sunshine Foods, Quillins IGA and Fareway have also been tapped. Some have responded no or “not at this time.”
Larson said they are keeping options open as several months ago, estimates for building a community market on the site of the recently demolished downtown buildings came in far above what was expected — which prompted the EDA to submit inquiries to established businesses to locate in Mabel.
Members stressed the importance of having a meeting of the grocery coop board soon to discuss the possibilities. The two committees are together looking to bring a grocery store back to Mabel.
Building site update
Larson updated the council on an estimate for asbestos abatement at recently purchased downtown buildings. The estimate for the abatement for the former Quilters Heaven and shoe stores was estimated at $9,550.
No action was taken on the abatement at the meeting. Larson said if the EDA decides to go ahead, it will need to seek council approval for the project.
The city hopes to demolish the vacant buildings in the future.
Larson reported the city is finishing some work at the Mabel Community Center — including the painting the handrails outside the building and fixing a sink in the women’s restrooms.
Ron Zeigler, a representative from CEDA (Community Economic Development Authority) made an appearance at the meeting to update the authority on his organization’s work in southeast Minnesota.
“We try to do anything and everything we can to help rural communities sustain themselves,” Zeigler said. “We have contracts with 30 different cities in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and now Florida.”
Zeigler said he welcomed input from any members about economic development in Mabel and he thanked Mabel for their continued support of the organization.