Growth for the city of Isanti was highlighted by Isanti Mayor George Wimmer during his annual State of the City Address on Feb. 15 at New Hope Community Church-Isanti.
Wimmer told the group gathered during the North 65 Chamber of Commerce luncheon, that the city, with a current population of 5,700, had 63 single-family building permits pulled in 2016.
As far as economic development, Wimmer highlighted the opening of Coborn’s Marketplace, the groundbreaking and anticipated March 1 opening of the Allina Health Isanti Clinic and the opening of SnoBear USA. Wimmer noted the city of Isanti won its second business recruitment award through the Economic Development Association of Minnesota for the recruitment of SnoBear USA to the city from North Dakota.
Wimmer explained 156 new jobs were created in the city in 2016; the city has 173 businesses employing 1,749 people; and 25 new businesses opened in the city, but nine closed, for a net gain of 16 new businesses.
“Economic Director Sean Sullivan and Community Development Director Roxanne Achman really do an excellent job for the city,” Wimmer said.
A new business opening in Rum River Mall is the Whiskey Road Pub and Grub. Wimmer said the restaurant is expected to open June 1, and it’s a $700,000 investment in the city. It was also noted O’Reilly Auto Parts, to be located on the south side of Coborn’s, is expected to break ground later this spring on a new building, and Prairie Senior Cottages is planning a second addition.
“And we have more development coming through the pipeline,” Wimmer said. “Isanti has a lot of neat and interesting businesses here. When people move to Isanti, they may not realize all the neat things we have going on here.”
Wimmer is proud of the city’s AA+ bond rating that helps save the city and taxpayers money when bonding for special projects.
“We really prided ourselves on getting rid of debt for the city,” Wimmer said. “We pay a lot less in interest when going out for these street projects.”
Wimmer noted the city’s administrative costs are 34 percent less than its peer cities (cities with populations up to 10,000).
“We try to be as efficient as possible,” Wimmer said.
Fulfilling a promise made a while ago is how Wimmer described the 50 percent reduction in the sanitary sewer base rate and the 25 percent reduction in the water base rate that became effective Jan. 1.
“This reduction has obviously gone over very well with our residents,” Wimmer said. “And it was very nice to be able to fulfill that promise.”
A passion for Wimmer is providing outdoor recreational activities for individuals and their families. He highlighted the development of River Bluff Preserve that provides a low-impact trail system, community garden, fishing bridge with handicap accessibility and more. He explained there is a partnership with Cambridge-Isanti Schools that allows kindergarten through fifth-grade students to have plots within the community garden, and 1 acre of land is designated for middle school student projects.
Wimmer announced free street dances will once again be held in downtown Isanti, with the dances from 7-11 p.m. The first dance will be held June 24 and feature Boogie Wonderland. The second dance will be held July 15 and feature Jonah and the Whales. The third dance will be Aug. 12 and feature Hitchville.
The Isanti Family Farmers Market, organized by the city of Isanti, will be held in Eagle Park in downtown Isanti on Fridays from 2-6 p.m. May 26 through Sept. 29.
“We started this to bring business down to Main Street,” Wimmer said. “They have actually become profitable entities and we are using those funds for some of our educational programming.”
Wimmer is optimistic about the future of the city. Since he became mayor, Wimmer noted, the city has leveraged $594,000 in Minnesota Investment Funds that has resulted in $13.5 million in private business investment in the city.
“A lot of things have really changed in our community, and we have been working very hard to make our community as attractive as possible to outside investment,” Wimmer said.