The Fairmont Economic Development Authority received updates Monday on business creation and growth, child care and workforce housing, a visitors survey and an internship at city hall. Linsey Preuss, the city’s economic development coordinator, reported that local lenders are putting together a program geared to coach people in qualifying for a loan; guide them through the basics of buying a home, whether through conventional financing or contract for deed; and the fundamentals of maintaining a home.A version of the program for Spanish-speaking buyers will be led by Jessica Martinez, community outreach coordinator at Fairmont Area Schools, and already has 12 people signed up.

Linsey reported that the child care action plan developed four goals to alleviate the shortage of more than 170 child care slots in Martin County. These include engaging private sector employers who feel lack of child care has affected their ability to hire or expand; renovating the SMEC building to create child care “pods”; creating funding for new and interested providers; and securing scholarships for professional development training in Fairmont for all child care providers.

Stephanie Busiahn, executive director of Visit Fairmont, presented FEDA members with a condensed report of the visitors survey, targeting people who live 50 or more miles away. The survey, conducted from June through November of 2018 through the University of Minnesota, was financed by several local sponsors, including FEDA.

The survey ascertained the reason for a visit to Fairmont, planned activities, money spent and other information. During the summer months, 75 percent of the visitors polled listed Fairmont as their primary destination.

Linsey Preuss introduced Holly Petrowiak, who will work at City Hall with economic development and also with Megan Boeck in the city’s planner/code enforcement office through Martin County’s summer intern program. Holly is studying community and regional planning at South Dakota State University.

FEDA previously had donated $3,500, which covers the cost of one intern in the program, but pledged an additional $3,500 on Monday after hearing the number of students and employers interested in participating greatly exceeded expectations.

The board approved renewing their membership in Essex LLC’s group Country Venture for promotional purposes at a cost $2,500 annually.

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