Only one person spoke up at Tuesday’s public hearing before the Crow Wing County Board about a proposal involving the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp.
The hearing was about whether to designate the corporation as the county’s local development organization for purposes of administering the county’s existing revolving loan fund.

“I’ll just speak in favor of this Unified Fund,” said Bruce Buxton, a BLAEDC board past president who, along with the private nonprofit organization, is spearheading the River to Rail initiative, focused on imaginative ideas to revitalize downtown Brainerd.

The fund consists of $84,350.96 in state Minnesota Investment Fund dollars granted to the county for economic development purposes by the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

“Hopefully, it’ll streamline the process, and it will get the money back out in the communities, creating economic development prosperity for everybody … so people feel more comfortable making applications now than the way it is in the past,” Buxton said at the public hearing.

Funding streams to be consolidated originate from local, regional, state and federal dollars totaling more than $3 million. The Unified Fund would serve as a revolving loan fund for

entrepreneurs, existing businesses and new companies.

“The BLAEDC organization put together a proposal to unify those programs and create a streamlined approach to help get that money out and working with business and industry to create jobs and grow our economy,” BLAEDC Executive Director Sheila Haverkamp told the board.

A revolving loan fund offers gap financing for businesses. The business owners pay back those dollars to the fund, which can in turn be used to fund other businesses.

Since 2002, BLAEDC has managed $78,363.38 on behalf of the county, which allocated the funds to BLAEDC for the purposes of the Minnesota Community Capital Fund, a nonprofit lending corporation dissolved in 2014. That amount would also be added to the Unified Fund.

“We have carried this money on our books since 2002. They’ve always had it, so I see no reason not to make it formal,” Commissioner Rosemary Franzen said before the board voted.

Franzen’s motion to designate BLAEDC as the county’s local development organization was approved Tuesday by the rest of the board at the historic courthouse on Laurel Street.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the promotions of Amy Bedard, community services department financial worker and Tracy Giza, land services department planning assistant.

Approved the hiring of Aric Caughey, maintenance technician, administrative services, and Krista Zierden, financial worker, community services.

Accepted the departures of Kevin Sipper, highway maintenance specialist, highway department; Kay Greenwalt, property assessor, land services; and Melanie Quillin, social worker, community services.

Accepted a donation in the amount of $1,500 from the McComas Lunde Chapter 194 to the Crow Wing County Veteran Services for a van.

Approved the transfer of a combination liquor license from Wolfhound Inc., doing business as The Wolfhound, to MN 6 Bar & Grill, doing business as Big Al’s Bar and Grill.

Approved final payment for a $1,093,176.93 contract with Anderson Brothers Construction Company of Brainerd to improve county roads 127 and 137, and First Assessment District roads.

Approved the abatements requested by Breezy Point residents Mary Ringheim, Richard and Rose Maidl, Gerald Mueller, Mary Bahneman, Ken and Julie Ling, John and Christine Anderson, William George Johnson Jr., Ronald and Nancy Schaefer, Peter and Kristen Gangl, Paul and Sarah Cullen, Terry and Lorelei Palmer, and James and Denise Abbott.

Authorized entering into an agreement between Crow Wing and Cass counties for housing Cass County inmates in the Crow Wing County Jail, effective Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2027.

Authorized entering into a grant agreement for the amount of $41,060 between Crow Wing County and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division for emergency management director salary, wages and benefits, effective Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2017.

Approved amending the official land use map because of petitions by James and Kari Haertzen of Pequot Lakes, from waterfront commercial to rural residential 2.5 involving

about 5.67 acres, and by Daniel and Karen Scholz of Crosslake, from waterfront commercial to shoreland district involving about 3.06 acres.

Approved the appointment of John Taylor to replace Mike Aulie as the city of Deerwood representative on the Serpent Lake Sanitary Sewer District Board of Directors for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2020.