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EDA Meeting Minutes 1/25/2023

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023


The regular meeting of the EDA was called to order by Chair Baumgartner at 12:02 P.M. at the Olivia City Council Chambers.

Members Present: Cathy Baumgartner, Chuck Brown, Steve Dirks, George Ebbers, Michelle Hanson, Jon Hawkinson, Tom McDonnell.

Staff Present: Susie Lang, EDA Director

Others Present: Aaron Walton, City Attorney; Scott Tedrick, Renville County Register (Zoom).

Motion by Ebbers, second by McDonnell: to approve the agenda as submitted. Motion passes unanimously.

Motion by Brown, second by Dirks: to approve the Regular Meeting Minutes of January 11, 2023. Motion passes unanimously.

Updates & Related Items
Lang shared that Todd Howard had called city hall to express his concerns with broadband internet in the area. Howard suggests that connectivity should be a top propriety of the EDA and funding should be sought after. The board had a robust conversation about internet speed and area providers. It was suggested that we conduct a survey of the community on this topic.
Mayor Jon shared that the Chamber is hosting several Chamber after Hours events in 2023, the first is on February 16 5-6:30 pm at the Chamber Office. Hanson explained that there was lots of interest from area community members at the January 20th Olivia Oasis meeting at FM BANK. Baumgartner added that she toured a model home the following day with Niche Artisan Homes of Mankato, who are the builders for the Olivia Oasis project.

Southwest MN Housing Partnership Technical Assistance Proposal Update
Lang shared an email from Jasmine Frias from the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership that provided some clarification on questions that were raised at the January 11th meeting.

  1. Stakeholders: these are individuals with stake or interest in the local housing circumstances in Olivia. They understand that strong housing helps make a strong community and is vital to the success of any community. Stakeholders should have capacity to follow through on the goals your Housing Team decides to take on (while stakeholders aren’t responsible for everything, they should have some role in carrying out the goals or delegating to others). Here is a list of people to consider including in your housing stakeholder group:
    1-3 City and/or EDA staff, Realtor/broker, Contractor/builder, Lender, School District representative, Someone from a large employer in/near Olivia, Local housing non-profit representative
  2. I’m not sure of the County’s plans to share information from their sessions. Any data SWMHP receives in working with the County will be used as needed at the workshop.
  3. The cities of Bird Island, Renville, Buffalo Lake, and Sacred Heart (and Olivia) attended an information session about the workshops. One of these cities is committed, and we expect to hear back from the others in February.
  4. The workshop is meant to set time aside for your Housing Team to determine an “action plan” in order to achieve your unique housing goals. This will look different for each community, but our goal is that whether your community already has defined housing goals and needs help determining next steps OR if your community just really has no idea where to begin with housing and needs help getting started, that the combination of setting time aside with your Housing Team and guidance from our staff would help to achieve that!
  5. We don’t have an example of a finished product but attached is a document of similar work we’ve done in other communities.
  6. After reading the proposal for the Comp Plan, I don’t see (correct me if wrong) any elements of where the consultant is working with housing stakeholders/your Housing Team to set goals and how to achieve them, as well as define what steps could be taken to do so, which is the purpose for the workshop. As stated above, the workshop should help determine an “action plan” for housing, where the Comp Plan may broadly state housing goals. Depending when the Comprehensive Plan and the Workshop overlap, you could use outcomes from the workshop to help inform what goes into the Comp Plan; this would help ensure there is some cross-referencing between the two things and maintain consistency.

Nathan Pulscher, President of Olivia Hospital & Clinic
Pulscher introduced himself to the board and shared that he has 20 years of experience in the VA healthcare system before joining private healthcare, most recently in Stillwater, Minnesota. Pulscher emphasized the importance of maintaining community autonomy while taking advantage of big company benefits as being vital a in rural health care system. As well as the need for a community approach to health care and open dialog in communities. Due to our location, diverse strategies, creativeness, and leveraging of resources is especially important. Recruitment is going well, as they are short just one provider at the moment and they have a number of great candidates to choose from.

Goals and Planning
The conversation around 2023 goal planning continued. Items that the board felt were most important include; Sale of Bayberry, Chrysler Center Resolution, Downtown sidewalk Improvements, Recreational Opportunities (including trails), Spec home build, Remove blighted property, Day Care Center, Infrastructure for future housing lots, exploration of an Event Center.

The Special Assessment Policy was mentioned as a way to help finance a downtown sidewalk project, Lang will explore that further with Walton and city staff.


Motion by Ebbers second by McDonnell: to adjourn the meeting at 1:12 P.M. Motion passed unanimously.

Submitted by,
Susie Lang

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