Isanti identifies economic development priorities

The Isanti City Council approved a resolution identifying its 2013 economic development priorities during its Oct. 1 meeting.

Economic Development Director Sean Sullivan presented the 2013 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for submittal to the East Central Regional Development Commission.

Sullivan said the purpose of the survey is to identify economic development priorities that could qualify for federal economic development authority funding. He explained the priorities listed for the city of Isanti include a rail service industrial park, downtown redevelopment and development of a medical campus or clinic.

Following discussion, the council approved a resolution authorizing the submittal of the comprehensive strategy to the development commission.

Council Member Sue Larson said the city should continue its efforts to bring a hotel to the community.

Isanti Mayor George Wimmer said the big hurdle the city continues to have with bringing a hotel to town is being able to fill it midweek.

“We have a lot of great events going on in the city during the weekends that would fill the hotel Friday through Monday; however, what concerns hotels is the ability to fill it during the midweek,” Wimmer said. “The market studies are showing they’ll be able to fill it for three or four days a week, but the other days it’ll sit empty.”

Wimmer explained the city provided a $650,000 total benefit package for the last hotel project that was considering coming to the city.

“When you’re looking at a $2.5 million to $3 million hotel project and you’re getting that kind of commitment from the city and still couldn’t get it done. … When we weren’t able to get any local investors involved, it really makes it hard for an outside person to invest when we can’t get the dollars from inside the city,” Wimmer said. “The last hotel project that didn’t happen wasn’t because of a lack of effort on our part. When you put up those kind of dollars and still can’t get it done, it’s showing the numbers were not there.”

In other action the council:

• Authorized the purchase of InDesign software for the city laptop for a cost not to exceed $400. The cost will be shared between the Economic Development Authority and the Parks, Recreation and Culture Board.

• Approved an amended utility easement for fiber optics for Sprint across the property at 601 E. Dual Blvd. NE.

• Approved the low bid of $8,211 from Bob Pankan & Sons for City Hall sidewalk repair.

• Approved a local gambling permit for the Knights of Columbus to hold a bingo fundraiser Nov. 24 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church.

• Approved offering the utility billing clerk position to Teresa Lauseng.

• Approved offering the code enforcement and zoning technician position to Laura Leckband.