March 4, 2016 Meeting Minutes


Greg Wagner, Amy Baldwin, Cathy Lindquist, Luella Fraser, Erin Smith, Angela Fielder, Allan Schroden, Ryan Miller, Jerry Ness

  1. Welcome

Erin Smith welcomed those in attendance and asked for introductions.

Cathy Lindquist passed around a handout for the Workplace Trilogy series.  The lunch and learn series will take place April 6 from 8:30 – 11:30 at West Central Initiative and focus on the legalities of time, money and social media for employers.  Cathy also mentioned that the minimum wage will increase to $9.50 on August 1, 2016.

Greg Wagner mentioned that the new Vice President of Operations at West Central Initiative will be Shannon Snell.  Shannon has an extensive background in manufacturing and human resources.

  1. Community Updates

Amy Baldwin began with an update on the “Ongoing support and efforts help establish a healthy, vibrant business and workforce environment” driver.  Baldwin mentioned that the committee has not met recently however there are a few initiatives in development that relate to the driver.

A Workforce Solutions Summit has been planned to provide a business to business event where a number of employers will have a forum for discussing successful strategies and programs for employee recruitment and retention.  The summit will be held on May 12 at the Bigwood Event Center.

The Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission is partnering with Otter Tail County who is applying for a competitive workforce grant through West Central Initiative Foundation.  The application will help fund a county-wide initiative with a Fergus Falls focus.  The “Otter Tail County Rural Rebound Initiative” will have three primary goals:

  • Recruiting workers with needed skills in the region with a particular emphasis on the rural rebound population.
  • Facilitating the cooperative exchange of information and regional collaboration to enhance and encourage labor force development and economic growth in Otter Tail County
  • Develop a nationally recognized Institute for Rural Youth Leadership

Baldwin mentioned that other funding matches are being sought in addition to the West Central Initiative grant including potential funds from the Bremer Foundation and USDA.

Erin Smith provided an update on the Library Renewal Project.  Smith handed out a project brochure that included the most recent designs, schematics, FAQs, and facts.  Smith mentioned that the next phase of the project is the design development phase.  The latest design proposal will be presented at the first City Council meeting in April.  The hope is that construction would begin in the summer of 2017 if everything remains on track.

Smith also mentioned the new seed library hosted by the public library.  The seed library allows people to pick out up to five packets of seeds that have been given to the library and return new or unused seeds.  The seeds are mostly vegetables with a few flowers and include heir loom seeds.

Angela Fiedler discussed the family oriented/aquatic facility driver.  Fielder met with Bridget Leonard about the possible project.  Leonard has received copies of a plan done for Parkers Prairie to use as a reference for the early planning stages.  A champion that can lead this driver has yet to be indetified.

Fiedler mentioned that the Fergus Falls Area Community Foundation was presented the idea of supporting this project and there was some interest in possibly helping support any initial planning costs.  A grant opportunity for this funding would be opening in March.  Fiedler mentioned that there was some concern about interfering with the Library Renewal Project. It was mentioned to Fiedler that a feasibility study may have been done in 2012 or 2103.

No update was provided from Lisa Workman and Jean Bowman who were both absent.

Baldwin briefly discussed the downtown/riverfront driver.  A group that has been meeting regarding downtown and riverfront development has recently completed some initial visioning efforts.  These efforts have helped frame priorities.  The group has become more organized and an implementation framework will now need to be developed to implement the visioning efforts.  Negotiations continue regarding the dairy property along with the property to the west along the river.

  1. Group Updates

Dennis Lipp handed out a LiveWell Fergus Falls update sheet that included a new logo and committee goal list.

Allan Schoden provided an update on the North Country Trail.  A new local chapter of the association was approved.  A group of 12-16 people continue to meet every second Wednesday from 5 pm – 7 pm to discuss ideas.  A guest speaker will be attending the March 10 meeting from 6 pm – 7pm at the Spot Panini & Wine.  Lowell Deede, who has walked every mile of public road in Becker County, will be the guest speaker.  A chapter kick-off event will be held at Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in April.  An Eagle Scout has volunteered to help with a challenging portion of the proposed trail near the Otter Tail River.

Jerry Ness mentioned that he has been to a lot of workforce related meetings.  Ness is working to help align students into the right path for local careers if that is what they would like to do.

Baldwin presented the new Fergus Falls Visitors Guide.  This was developed by the Fergus Falls EIC, Chamber of Commerce and CVB and focuses on pitching Fergus Falls as the best place to move to.

Baldwin mentioned that Wednesday, March 16 is the Business Summit.  Ben Winchester from the U of M Extension will be presenting on the “Rural Brain Gain”

  1. Other

Those in attendance wished Cathy Lindquist good luck in her new position.  This will be Lindquist’s final Forward Fergus Falls meeting as she will be transitioning out of her position with the SBDC and into a new marketing role with Moore Engineering out of the West Fargo location

The new Fergus Falls City Administrator should be starting by the end of March assuming the contract is approved at the 3/7 City Council meeting.

Next meeting – April 1 at Keller Williams Realty Office (lower level meeting room)

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