Economic development successes continue despite economyWhile the economy continues to weigh down many communities across the nation, New Richmond remains aggressive in its efforts to create more local jobs.
While the economy continues to weigh down many communities across the nation, New Richmond remains aggressive in its efforts to create more local jobs.
That fact was evident as the New Richmond Area Economic Development Corp. held its annual meeting Jan. 19.
Since the NRAEDC was formed in 2004, the community has been able to attract a number of new businesses to the area. Those businesses brought many new jobs with them.
“We’ve been pretty successful with what we’ve done,” said John Soderberg, one of the founding members of the NRAEDC.
The nonprofit’s success is largely due to its growing partnership with the New Richmond City Council and city staff, which have helped promote the region and created incentives to draw companies here, Soderberg said.
Even with all the early success of the NRAEDC, Soderberg said things have picked up even more under the leadership of President Paul Mayer.
Mayer reported that the past two years have been very fruitful for economic development activities.
In 2008, Mayer and city officials met with 40 potential clients – everything from existing businesses looking to expand, start-up businesses and existing businesses looking to move.
Of those prospects, only half (20) have decided not to locate their operations in New Richmond.
“That’s (the failure rate) way lower than the national average,” Mayer explained. “If you keep one out of 10, that’s doing well.”
This past year, 2009, was even more promising.
Mayer said he met with 46 potential businesses through the past 12 months and eight of those have located here. Some 27 are still considering New Richmond for their business, while just 11 have decided against locating here.
“2009 was pretty darn good, given the state of the economy,” he said. “And 2010 should be even better.”
There are quite a few economic development opportunities on the horizon for the new year, Mayer reported.
The city continues to work with officials from the American Air Wings Museum, a nonprofit organization that lost its hangar space in the Twin Cities, which is considering a move here.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the community,” Mayer said. “It will make the airport a destination.”
The move won’t create a lot of jobs, he said, but it will generate new economic activity.
Mayer reported that the community continues to investigate other economic development opportunities, including a possible incubator building near the airport and a possible new rail park to serve businesses that require railroad service for the shipment of their products. Both ideas are showing continued promise, he added.
Also, several businesses in the region are considering expansion projects, Mayer told the crowd, and the NRAEDC continues to work with them in an effort to bring them to New Richmond.
Progress is also being made on the launch of a new aircraft engine manufacturer in New Richmond, Mayer said.
Engineered Propulsion Systems Inc. is getting closer to securing the needed financing for its start.
Michael Fuchs, EPS president, said the company’s lead investor is close to jumping back on board, following a decision to wait while the nation’s economy rebounded. Once EPS is launched, Fuchs told the crowd, it could employ up to 100 people within seven years.
Non-Destructive Testing Solutions, another business that has recently moved into offices downtown, is an additional success story of the past year.
Owner Jesse Skramstad thanked Mayer and the city for their help in getting settled in The Creamery building.
“It’s a very welcoming environment and everyone is very helpful,” he said.
Over the past year, the aviation inspection company has grown from six team members to 11.
Skramstad said NDTS is poised to triple or quadruple its sales in 2010.
One reason for the success of local economic development activity is the incubator program that helps start-up businesses get off the ground, Mayer said.
The NRAEDC has also helped establish a Business Owners’ Forum, which brings business people together once a month to talk about issues related to running a successful enterprise.
The NRAEDC’s resource board – made up of volunteer professionals who provide new businesses with advice on legal, accounting, banking and insurance issues – is also a huge selling point for businesses considering locating here, Mayer added.