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Ten things happening in Estherville

January 23, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Hevern gives economic development update

By Amy H. Peterson

Staff Writer

Article Photos

Lyle Hevern, Estherville and Emmet County economic development director, gave an update on economic growth and opportunity in the community at Monday's city council meeting.

Hevern said a local business was exploring retail opportunities in Estherville for an expanded business.

The city is working with a housing consultant, Hevern said. The focus is on second floor downtown loft apartments and the addition of multi-unit housing downtown and at Meadows Subdivision on the city's north side.

"The consultant is going to help us figure out a plan for the second floor apartments," Hevern said.

Hevern said the Estherville Area Growth Partnership was exploring a program for enhancing and replacing second story windows on downtown buildings in the near future.

In April, 2018, Estherville was named one of 62 finalists in Iowa for an Opportunity Zones grant, a new economic development program administered by the U.S. Dept of the Treasury.

Hevern said at the time, "It will help our potential for having another source of funding for good jobs with existing or new businesses in existing or new buildings. More new, good jobs will put pressure on our housing situation, which we have also included in our application."

Estherville's Opportunity Zone includes all of the area east of Highway 4 within the Estherville city limits.

Hevern said he viewed a webinar on the Opportunity Zone program. Individuals with unrealized capital gains will be able to invest in businesses and properties located in the Opportunity Zone.

Hevern said the Iowa Lakes Electric Coop and Iowa Area Development Group visited with an aquaculture company, presenting Estherville as a potential site.

Local investor Jeff Robinson reports the U.S. Dept. of Defense tech manufacturing project slated for Estherville's industrial park is still alive. The U.S. government shutdown as well as the departure of former Secretary of Defense Mattis have been part of recent delays. Hevern said there are several more steps before the project is done, but Estherville is still the first of these projects located in rural areas.

Hevern said a North Dakota financial software company is seeking to launch a new product from Studio 12.

The wind farm, under development by Tradewinds Energy and brought to town by local investor Alan Blum will start its permitting process this year. There is not yet a timetable for construction, and the delay continues to involve the transmitters.

The new emergency room at Avera Holy Family Hospital will be operational in the very near future, Hevern said. Hevern added that out of town business people are impressed, think the changes and growth in Estherville is "wonderful," and more people from the area are talking about the positive things happening in the community.

Hevern addressed the soon-to-be-vacated property now housing the Shopko store. The incentives that brought Shopko to Estherville included a $100,000 forgiveable loan. The EAPG billed Shopko for the balance remaining on that loan. The incentives also included $400,000 paid over five years, conditional on certain requirements being met. Two payments totaling $80,000 were made and the rest have been canceled.

"So we go about the process of identifying someone to go into the building. It's challenging: not many chain stores looking for space to go into, and not many mom and pop stores can use that much space," Hevern said.

Council member Brandon Carlin told Hevern, "Keep knocking them down. You filled the Pamida building, redeveloped the Penney's building. We'll keep moving forward."

City administrator Penny Clayton said, "There are far too many positive things happening in Estherville to let this situation drag us down."



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