Projects bring $3.3M in value to Great River Energy member systems in 2018
5 Feb 2019
By: Great River Energy staff
Day in and day out, Great River Energy’s economic development services staff provides a variety of opportunities to the communities it serves. Team members aid in business financing assistance, which can spur job growth for a startup company or an established enterprise looking to expand, ultimately leading to a more prosperous area. And when one cooperative community thrives, the entire system benefits.
The staff – made up of manager Tom Lambrecht, economic developer Erin Sparks and economic development lead Jeff Borling – works to promote areas of Minnesota that Great River Energy’s 28 member-owner cooperatives serve as a great place to do business.
In addition, they offer financing to support electrification and energy efficiency projects through the E3 Commercial Financing program, as well as a new Business Expansion Loan Program to facilitate commercial and industrial investment. They also offer member-owners expertise by providing loan application packaging for those that are seeking funding through the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program and technical loan review assistance for co-ops’ internal revolving loan funds.
The team’s efforts in 2018 combined to bring a value of $3.3 million to Great River Energy’s member systems through seven business financing projects. The total estimated capital investment associated with those projects is $61.6 million and will result in the creation of 207 new jobs, mainly in the manufacturing sector, followed by healthcare.
Success stories from 2018 include: the grand opening of Crystal Brook Senior Living in Park Rapids, Minn., which brings vital health care services to the area that were previously unavailable to residents without requiring them to relocate, and is served by Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electric, as well as a planned expansion by Daikin Applied to bring a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to the Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric service area.
The team also launched a pilot program to enhance funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural areas this year with a $1 million low-interest loan to The Entrepreneur Fund, an economic development lender with coverage overlapping seven Great River Energy member-owner cooperative service areas. The funds will be used to capitalize The Entrepreneur Fund’s regular lending programs, but only for projects in specific areas served by Great River Energy’s all-requirements member-owners. Since the loan program’s announcement in August 2018, three projects have been approved to receive funding through it, with several more on deck for 2019.
Lambrecht, Sparks and Borling will continue working toward attracting business to Great River Energy’s service area – especially in their targeted industries of advanced manufacturing, agricultural and forest products, data centers and mining – and exemplifying how cooperatives support the communities they serve.