Collins moving in on EDC position

Dave Collins is still settling in at his courthouse office as executive director of the new Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission (EDC).

Dave Collins is still settling in at his courthouse office as executive director of the new Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission (EDC).

But he didn't wait for an office to settle into the community.

Collins has been learning about the community - strengths to draw from and weaknesses that need to be addressed. He's also been meeting business owners networking with people, attending meetings, including Progress Park Rapids and the Downtown Business Association (DBA).

He's begun putting together an inventory of available buildings and properties. The list will help him market the area.

Nowadays, Collins said, people searching for a location to start or relocate business and industry, go to the Internet. They expect to find data, information and resources there, Collins said. "I want to increase my understanding of what's available to help these clients."


Since gathering information can be "kind of a maze" for clients, he explained, a goal is to have the EDC become a one-stop center for information.

He's already acquainted with officials at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and will take advantage of DEED's Positively Minnesota program to market the area.

Because economic development is very competitive, he added, "We'll identify our niche."

Another function of economic development is to help existing industry and businesses grow and expand. "I'm looking forward to the role I can play with the DBA," Collins said. Also on Collins' agenda is a retreat with his board this fall to fine-tune the commission's mission, goals and objectives. Based on the board's input, he will develop a plan of work that's achievable and measurable each year.

"There's a lot of growth potential here," he added. "We have good telecommunications infrastructure and that's key for those who can pick where they want to live and make a living around it." In the Park Rapids area, that means selling quality of life, he said.

Collins also said economic development has different meanings to different people. For some, it is purely jobs and government, for others it's selling goods and services and for still others it's about tax base, Collins said.

He will use his expertise to go in any or all directions as the board decides.

Coming to Park Rapids from a similar position in Clear Lake, IA, he already has contacts in the Minnesota Department of Commerce and brokers in industry and commerce in the Twin Cities.


Discussion of the need for a regional economic development authority began among members of the Park Rapids Economic Development Authority in January 2005.

Establishing an economic development organization also has been on the Progress Park Rapids' list of priorities.

According to Jim Wallace, vice chairman of the new commission, participants recognized that economic development efforts needed to move beyond municipal boundaries to the greater Park Rapids community, including Osage, Menahga and Lake George.

In addition, changes in the resort industry added a sense of urgency to the need to broaden the area's economic base.

Representatives from the city, county and business were invited to participate in the formation of a regional organization.

The structure took shape with election of officers and appointment of members in December. Mayor Ted Godfrey and council member Nancy Carroll represent the city. County commissioners on the board are Floyd Frank and Dick Devine. Wallace represents Industries for Park Rapids and Kathy Carney and Kathy Grell were appointed as at-large members.

Katie Magozzi, executive director, represents the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce as a nonvoting member.

Grell is chairwoman; Carroll serves as secretary-treasurer.


Carroll also served on the committee who drew up the job description for the EDC's executive director.

Collins' qualifications were outstanding, she said. "He brings a high level of experience to the position and to the benefit of the region."

Collins office is located on the first floor of the courthouse, closest to the entrance from Court Avenue or he can be reached at 732-2256 or at .

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