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City of Menahga invests in comprehensive plan updates

The city of Menahga is taking the first steps toward investing in economic development within the city.

Monday evening, mayor Pat Foss and councilmember Maxine Norman, who sit on the economic development committee, proposed two budget items to the city council.

After a meeting with a representative from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Foss said Menahga is at the beginning as far as economic development goes.

"The first thing we'd like to move ahead on is a comprehensive plan," he said.

They estimated the cost to update the city's 1978 plan at about $5,000. This would involve updating census and other figures, along with holding community meetings to establish priorities within the city of Menahga.

Blueberry Township, which surrounds the city, is working on a comprehensive plan now as well. Representatives from the township board would like to work with the city on its plan so they are moving in the same direction.

The second economic development piece is a business retention and expansion study. Norman said the study would cost about $12,000.

It would involve interviewing about 35 businesses in the Menahga area.

"If there are businesses outside the city that are interested in expanding into the city or relocating into the city they would be welcome too," Norman said.

The purpose is to work on keeping existing businesses in Menahga.

"What it is, we need to get to know" the businesses, Foss said. "There are 200 businesses in town and I would dare say that none of us could name them all.

"If you want to sell to somebody outside your city, the people that are going to do a better job of salesmanship are those that are here already."

Also, Norman added, "Gone are the days where you jump in the car and drive off to wherever and try to recruit someone to come to your city. What you do is work with your existing businesses and find out how we can keep them and how can they add one or two more people."

Growing and retaining business is much more realistic, she said.

Money is available in the city's budget to spend on economic development.

City administrator Walt Salo said interest money had been allocated in several areas of the budget for economic development over the years. However, it hasn't been spent.

The council approved moving forward on the two budget items for economic development.

In another effort to spur economic development in the city, the council discussed decreasing the application fee and interest rate for its revolving loan fund.

Previously, the application to apply for a loan with the city cost $350 and the interest rate was 6 percent.

Foss said this wasn't attractive to businesses in the city and many people could look elsewhere for a loan.

He proposed decreasing the application fee to $200 and decreasing the interest rate to 4 percent.

"We need to make the interest rate more appealing," he said.

The council approved the decreases.

In other business, the council:

n Approved an investment policy for the city of Menahga.

The policy will require the city administrator to make sure the city is getting the most money out of its investments by checking on rates. It was discovered that most of the city's money was sitting in a checking account that received little interest.

The council will receive quarterly reports on the city's investments.

n Approved having Ron Neisess, city streets/park supervisor, make a walking trail at the city park. He has heard from many people who would like a mowed walking trail in the area, he said.

n Approved applying for Statewide Health Improvement (SHIP) funds from Wadena County Public Health.

The county has extra money in its grant that needs to be spent by June 30. The city of Menahga is applying for $5,000 for signage and promotion of a walking trail in the city's park. The improvements will coincide with the development of a trail by Neisess at the park.

n Approved a resolution authorizing an application to the Department of Natural Resources for an outdoor recreation, regional park and/or park legacy grant.

The city should find out whether it received grant funding in July.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561