Have you heard the big news? Greater Fergus Falls is celebrating three amazing years! Since the beginning, we’ve made it our mission to support and grow our local business community by retaining existing businesses, recruiting new entrepreneurs and innovators to the area, and revitalizing our economy. Whether it’s providing one-on-one assistance or facilitating community-wide initiatives, our team is committed to working alongside and advocating for our businesses.
It’s safe to say the Greater Fergus Falls team has a lot to be proud of! Our successes over the last three years include:
Welcoming 44 new businesses to the community
Supporting 540 existing businesses
Creating 121 jobs (61 full-time, 54 part-time)
Responding to 863 inquiries from companies, developers, realtors, investors, and organizations about the region
Assisting in the redevelopment of 3 vacant big-box stores
Since it’s our anniversary, we thought it would be fun to take a closer look at some of our most recent milestones. Keep reading to get the details about a few of our latest wins!
Continued Support for Businesses & Organizations Impacted by COVID-19
Since the start of the pandemic, Greater Fergus Falls has prioritized helping our business community navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19. In 2020, we provided over 400 hours of direct support to more than 180 businesses and organizations in the area.
Some of our COVID-19 relief efforts included:
Collaborating with area business leaders to assist with the production of vital personal protection equipment (PPE).
Connecting and assisting businesses with pandemic relief funding programs.
Keeping businesses up-to-date on the latest information, guidelines, and available assistance with a robust COVID-19 resource center on our website.
Creating Project 2 Fold in partnership with the Fergus Falls Downtown Riverfront Council, which raised nearly $17,000 in support of essential workers, individuals, and businesses impacted by COVID-19. Project 2 Fold also provided 469 “back-to-school” packages to kids in the ISD 544 school district last year.
Our ability to pivot and reprioritize our services to meet the needs of local businesses has been well-received in the community and beyond. Greater Fergus Falls has been recognized by Governor Tim Walz, Senator Tina Smith, Valley News Life (Fargo, ND), the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM), and the University of MN Extension Office.
Now that we’ve begun to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, we’ve shifted our pandemic relief efforts from survival toward recovery. We are very much looking forward to helping area businesses continue to flourish and grow.
Carleton Rail Access Project Awarded MNDOT Grant
Greater Fergus Falls has helped Carleton Capital Investments LLC (CCI) secure a significant grant to help fund its rail access project. The $480,000 grant awarded by the MN Department of Transportation (MNDOT) will aid in the construction of a rail spur as part of the new freight loading facility on the Otter Tail Valley Railroad (OTVR) in Fergus Falls.
Unstable fuel prices, driver shortages, and infrastructure deficiencies in the last few years have made rail transport an attractive alternative to traditional shipping methods. As such, securing funding for projects like this can be highly competitive. When the opportunity to apply for the MNDOT grant arose, Greater Fergus Falls and CCI partnered with the City of Fergus Falls to gather letters of support from local companies that could benefit from the completion of this project. Of the 21 grant applications MNDOT received, only seven were awarded funding.
Once completed, the Carleton rail access project stands to bring serious advantages to the region, including enhancing the competitiveness of our economy. It will also help area businesses achieve greater sustainability and have more growth opportunities while reducing traffic congestion and future road maintenance repairs.
Redevelopment of Former Sunmart Location Underway
The Greater Fergus Falls team is thrilled to have partnered with many great organizations to facilitate the recent sale of the former Sunmart building. The property was purchased by local development company Wayne Enterprises, LLC. The company intends to redevelop the site into a multi-business facility with a focus on retail, light manufacturing, warehouse, and distribution.
Wayne Enterprises, LLC closed on the property at the end of May, and as of June 1st, the adaptive reuse project is well underway. Although the facility isn’t estimated to be completed until the Fall of 2021, several companies already have leases in place, including Cornerstone Cabinets & Countertops and Midwest Bevel Edge.
Sunmart is the latest in a line of big-box store redevelopment projects Greater Fergus Falls has assisted with in the region. Other notable projects include the old Shopko property and the former Target building.
These and similar economic development projects offer many advantages. In addition to bringing new businesses and jobs to the area, it encourages existing companies to grow within the community rather than relocating elsewhere.
Greater Fergus Falls is Looking Forward to the Future
While these are just a few of the recent successes we’ve had as an organization and a community, Greater Fergus Falls is proud of everything we’ve accomplished together.
We couldn’t have done it without the countless individuals, investors, organizations, and partners who have supported our mission to grow the region’s economy and business community. Thank you for your support over the last three years, and cheers to many more!
Want to know what else the Greater Fergus Falls team has been up to? Check out our 2020 Annual Report.