Rick Howden of CEDA (Community and Economic Development Associates) attended the May meeting of the Spring Grove EDA (economic development authority).

He introduced himself in his current role as Houston County EDA Coordinator (through CEDA) and explained various ways, which the county EDA may be able to assist and cooperate with the Spring Grove group.

Later, Howden offered to list EDA-owned Spring Grove Commercial Park lots on the MNProspector website, which DEED (Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development) maintains.

Institute update received

Jessi Strinmoen of the Spring Grove Entrepreneur Institute also appeared, reporting on a series of four classes for prospective businesspersons, which the group is sponsoring.

The institute was aided by a recent SMIF (Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation) grant in its start-up.

"Even if one business came to fruition because of this, it's money well spent," Strinmoen noted, "Even if that happens five years down the road, that's what we would consider as a successful program."

EDA President Howard Deters said a recent study indicated that "what entrepreneurs need most is each other." Business people sharing what they've learned, working on strategies for success, and simply networking together can make a difference, he added.

Giants seeks low-interest loan

Karen Gray of Giants of the Earth brought the group up to speed on group's plan to renovate their building on Main Street.

"What we decided, we would do with the Ballard House is to remove the vinyl siding and remove the clapboard siding that's underneath it because it's in such bad shape that it won't hold paint anymore," Gray said.

"We'll insulate it and put in new windows that are more like the originals that were in the building back in 1893. We're going to try to get that all done at the same time the road's being done and have it ready for the grand reveal when the road opens."

Gray thanked the EDA for its "Fix Fund" assistance with façade repairs and asked if the group could provide a $10,000 loan for one to three years to help pay for the $80,000 to $85,000 project.

Commissioners later voted to utilize the EDA's revolving loan program to grant the request, providing $10,000 for two years at 3 percent interest.

Three more 'Fix Fund' grants

Three new applications for the "Fix Fund" grant program were reviewed. Solie Services, the Ivy Grove Restaurant and Mulqueen's True Value Hardware were all accepted for help with façade improvements.

Remaining funds for the 50 percent matching-grant program now total less than $2,000 of the $12,500 approved in March. Five Spring Grove buildings have now signed up for the grants, which were capped at $2,500 per applicant.

UffDa Fest funds tabled for now

Commissioners discussed a proposal from Robin Bartell, seeking assistance for UffDa Fest marketing.

Members stated that the EDA has contributed towards the event in the past, but were unsure which organization will act as UffDa Fest sponsor this year.

There was no vote to make a contribution, but the board decided by consensus to gather more information on UffDa Fest plans.

'Detour Dollars' underway

Members also reviewed schedules and updated plans for their "Detour Dollars" advertising campaign.

Details such as how registration boxes will be delivered to the drawing site in the future, who will purchase the "Spring Grove Dollars" to be handed out, and the latest schedule of registration locations were all discussed.

The first weekly drawing was May 22. There are four registration boxes at local businesses. They are rotated to different sites each week, which are advertised for shoppers.

New signage in town approved

Several designs for a sign promoting Spring Grove were reviewed. The signage is to be placed on an exterior wall at Northern Engraving.

One design provided by Bartell was given a nod of approval. Representatives from Northern will have the final OK on the sign, members noted.

Next meeting announced

The EDA meets the fourth Tuesday of each month and will meet next at 7 p.m. on June 25 at 168 W. Main St.