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Regional economic developer director steps down

The public face of economic development in the Park Rapids area and Hubbard County announced his resignation this week. David Collins, executive director of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission (HCREDC) submitted his resign...

David Collins
David Collins
Max Bailey Photography

The public face of economic development in the Park Rapids area and Hubbard County announced his resignation this week.

David Collins, executive director of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission (HCREDC) submitted his resignation to the board of directors and accepted a similar position in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Collins started at the HCREDC on June 1, 2006 and in that time was a lead figure in economic development in Hubbard County.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time in Park Rapids and hope that I've contributed and am leaving a lasting and positive impact on the Hubbard County area," he said. " It's with a very heavy heart that I'm moving on to a new challenge. Everyone in Park Rapids has been wonderful to work and I will value and cherish the numerous friendships I've been honored to enjoy. "

His last day with the HCREDC is July 14.

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Collins highlights some of his most notable accomplishments working as executive director and his community involvement. He organized and served as a key leader in the downtown Park Rapids renovation project of $6.38 million; secured a $738,000 earmark from Congress; garnered $725,000 in federal funding for new water tower; received a $665,000 Small Cities Development Grant and other funds for the project; storefront to storefront, eight blocks plus surrounding area.

Other major projects in his time as executive director included converting an abandoned, former National Guard armory into an art/activity center called Armory Square. Collins led the effort resulting in $2.5 million in state bonding dollars approved for the project.

He recruited Pleasant Court Apartments (two phases, 29 commercial rate apartments in each phase, totalling 58 units). Also led project and raised $210,000 to build a community shelter, playground and parking lot on a state trail in Laporte (population 111).

He also led an effort to develop a Outdoor Classroom Plan for the Park Rapids Area School District.

Collins worked closely with Knute Nelson to secure an 88-unit, $18 million senior living center which recently broke ground in Park Rapids.

He was instrumental in efforts to bring high speed broadband to all areas of the Hubbard County. He estimates, by the end of 2017, the county will be 99.5 percent connected, with GigaZone service to many areas of the county.

His office was instrumental in the Park Avenue Plaza building, now home to Davita Dialysis, Minnesota DNR, and Sanford Health Clinic. He encouraged J&B Food Store (now Hugo's) to relocate downtown.

He worked closely with several local development programs, utilizing $35 million-plus in Federal New Market Tax Credits. He worked with the Park Rapids Airport Commission to recruit an airport business services director. Collins established the local SCORE chapter, which provides counseling services for small businesses. He worked closely with Enbridge supporting efforts to build two pipelines through Hubbard County.

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Currently, Collins is involved in leading an effort to establish a treatment court for Hubbard County, and most recently helped organize and raise funds for Park Rapids Police Department K-9 unit.

Collins stated he was instrumental in an effort to establish a countywide recreational development plan with an emphasis on establishing a unique identity. He recently completed an extensive survey regarding extended hour or 24/7 childcare needs, working with local providers to determine next steps.

Collins also worked on numerous projects and activities to build a solid relationship between the area's public schools and business community. The HCREDC office, along with Rotary, helped raise funds for scoreboards at the high school, raised $35,000 for the Weekend Backpack program, and $45,000 for Partners for Pianos.

Under Collins' direction, his office established the Entrepreneur for a Day program in Laporte, and will be in Park Rapids and Nevis this fall as an annual event.

Collins was named Park Rapids Rotary Club Rotarian of the Year in 2008-09 and 2013-14. He was also named Rotary District Rotarian of the Year in 2016-17. He served as Past Rotary President, fireworks committee chairman, and currently is Foundation Chair, which has raised $53,000 in the last eight years, bringing the club total since 1939 to over $100,000.

"This area is moving forward and I'm excited about what lays ahead for this area. I know everyone will work hard to keep the momentum going," he said. "I'm very thankful for the opportunity to serve the HCREDC, Rotary and the many other organizations and individuals I've had the honor to work with."

"On behalf of the HCREDC Board we wish David well in his future endeavors," Michael Monsud, chair of the HCREDC said. "He will be missed; he has been a great asset to Hubbard County and Park Rapids. His knowledge of economic development, his ability to deal with business owners along with his political contacts are talents we will need to cultivate in a new HCREDC Executive Director."

Collins' new position is with the Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress as chief executive officer. He will be responsible for providing team and community leadership, driving fundraising and sustainability strategies, coordinating work related to the strategic priorities as well as general management responsibilities.

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Matt Thompson, chairperson of the GOPIP Executive Board, said in a statement, "We are excited to welcome David Collins to Ottumwa as the CEO of the Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress. Following a national search with many qualified candidates, David was the board's unanimous choice because of his extensive experience in economic development both in Iowa and Minnesota. We look forward to David joining Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress to provide our community with a strategic focus on economic advancement, job retention, and recruitment of new businesses to Ottumwa. We have so many positive changes taking place in Ottumwa and feel an experienced leader like David will help us support growth and retention in our business community."

Related Topics: PARK RAPIDS
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