What makes a community a place that someone would actually want to live? There’s the essentials of course – safety, available housing, access to food, healthcare, employment, etc. But beyond those necessities – why do you want to live where you live?
In Albert Lea we have those necessities of course, but we have so much more! From natural beauty and recreation opportunities to arts and entertainment to community clubs and volunteer options – we have a lot of great ways for our residents to engage and find enjoyment in our town.
We also recognize the importance that small businesses play not just for consumers benefit – but community benefit as well. Small businesses are run by friends, family, and neighbors – they give back to the local community in so many ways! While our economic development staff does spend time working with new and existing larger manufacturers and employers to help them expand and grow here – we also place a lot of value on the local small business owner.
We accomplish that in several ways including available loan funds to assist projects or provide micro loans, business plan writing support, assistance accessing SBDC resources, and other help as requested. We currently have over $1 million dollars in revolving loan funds with over 70% currently loaned to existing businesses in Freeborn County which has allowed several businesses to transition ownership, expand, add employees, and for new businesses to start and thrive.
We have also collaborated with our partners – City of Albert Lea, Albert Lea Main Street Program, and Albert Lea Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce to host the first Albert Lea Redevelopment Challenge. The challenge, AL Rebuild, focused on a building in downtown Albert Lea which was previously a Hobby Shop. After the City of Albert Lea took ownership of the building on tax forfeiture, there was a question of what should be done with the building. The city had to do extensive cleaning and some maintenance work on the building to stabilize the building and make it safe. The partners then got together to discuss how to move forward.
The AL Rebuild Challenge has accepted a proposal from a business and is currently in the process of finalizing plans to redevelop the space. The business will receive an incentive package worth over $100,000 to help them redevelop the space and grow their business.
Watch for future announcements about the business that will soon occupy the space!