Spring Grove EDA (economic development authority) members listened to a presentation by Ron Zeigler, president/CEO of Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) on Feb. 26.

Ziegler gave an overview of his organization, which began in southeastern Minnesota and now serves surrounding communities in Iowa and Wisconsin as well.

Since the city of Spring Grove eliminated the post of city administrator, the EDA has not had the services of Theresa Coleman as its executive director.

Ziegler told the board that CEDA could fulfill those duties at any level of staffing that they wish. The company is a 501(c)3 private non-profit, he added.

"The whole emphasis behind our company is just trying to make rural America a better place to live," Ziegler said.

EDA President Howard Deters asked if CEDA could simply provide secretarial duties for the organization.

"In all of our communities, typically our staff is responsible for setting your agendas, taking and writing minutes, setting up board packets, financial reports, making sure there's a quorum," Ziegler replied.

"But, I think you wouldn't want to hire us just to do that. I think there's much more that we can bring to the table than just doing the administrative aspect of it."

Grant writing and grant administration, providing a "business retention/expansion study" and creating a work plan are just a few of the additional things that CEDA can provide, Ziegler said.

"Also, making sure that those things get done," he stated. "If they don't get done then we're out the door."

Ziegler said that CEDA contracts typically feature a 30-day "out" clause, making it easy to terminate services.

"We're non-profit, and we have about a million dollar budget. There are 15 of us on staff. We aren't out to gouge anybody. Our goal is to show a $100,000 profit at the end of the year, break even or finish plus or minus a little bit.

"Our whole goal is to try to get jobs, tax base and improve quality of life, those types of things."

When asked about specific costs, Ziegler said one of the smallest ongoing contracts now in effect is for one day every other week for $10,550 per year.

Another community hires CEDA for two days per week for approximately $37,000 per year.

Members thanked Ziegler for appearing, and stated that they would take his offer under consideration.

Asking CEDA to send a specific proposal wasn't voted on. Later, members discussed hiring a local bookkeeper to keep track of EDA accounts.

Various items tabled

The board tabled two items without voting, in part because three members (JC Nerstad, Robert Vogel and Eric Ostern) were not present.

The first was a financial report for the month of January. The second was the election of officers for fiscal year 2013.

Discussion items reviewed

Other topics that came up for discussion without any vote was the RV Park study that the EDA commissioned in 2012, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) grant, and the need to sell EDA-owned lots at the Spring Grove Commercial Park before those properties begin to be taxed in 2014.

The RV Park is still in a fact-finding stage with input from experts in the field being actively sought.

The SMIF grant (the Bright Ideas Workshop process) has generated three proposals, all of which were accepted. Those totaled the maximum amount ($20,000).

Deters noted that selling the lots is a priority, and the creation of tax revenue and jobs is what's needed.

"We'd want something built," he stated. Unfortunately, the original asking price for the lots wasn't realistic, several members noted.

Main Street Marketing report

Commissioners held a Main Street Marketing session prior to the regular meeting.

Details of the Detour Dollars promotion (see separate article), related radio advertising, hours of construction next summer (sunup to sundown) and more were brought up.

By consensus, the board approved ordering a $225 vinyl sign that will be placed on open billboard space.

Pam Eddy of Fairway Outdoor Advertising showed commissioners a sample including the Spring Grove logo (pretty/ neat/small town), which they agreed to use on the billboard sign.

The left side of the sign features a close-up of the warrior statue in Viking Memorial Park and the other side features a small version of the "Spring Grove: Up and Running" logo.

The company will allow the billboard ad to run free of charge on an open billboard throughout the county.

When a billboard spot is purchased by a customer, the "cover copy" program would move the ad to another open spot.

For an additional charge of $100, the EDA can have the vinyl placed on any open billboard they choose.

Members decided that a separate vote was not required to buy the vinyl since the ad campaign was approved by an earlier ballot.

Next meeting announced

The Spring Grove EDA meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 168 W. Main Street. The meeting begins with the Main Street Marketing portion followed by the regular meeting (usually around 8 p.m.)

The next meeting will be Tuesday, March 26.