Carrying on their mission of bringing businesses to the community, the Greater Fergus Falls Board heard presentations from two incoming enterprises Friday at Lake Region Hospital.
Board member Kristi Hastings had her daughter, Ava, introduce “Sugarbomb” to the board.
The business opening June 1 at 123 E. Lincoln Ave. will offer a hundred varieties of candy (some unusual) along with Minnesota-made soda and boxed water. The inventory will also include “bath bombs” manufactured by students at Bertha-Hewitt Public School in a variety of scents and colors.
Hastings’ presentation also included information for the board on employees and points of sale.
Sugarbomb will be opening June 1.
Tasha Rohlfs made a presentation to the board on her new enterprise “Otter Cove.”
Like she did May 1 at a Committee of the Whole meeting, the enthusiastic mother unveiled her group’s plans for an indoor play area and a children’s museum in a 5,000-square foot downtown Fergus Falls location, formerly occupied by Great Plains Natural Gas.
Rohlfs and her group carried out a survey last November that garnered 302 responses. The main question was “does Fergus Falls need an indoor play facility for young children?”
Only one response was “no.”
Rohlfs said her group has raised around $70,000 of the $400,000 needed to make the indoor location what they want it to be.
GFF Executive Assistant NeTia Bauman provided the board with an update of GFF activities since their April meeting.
Rufer asked for reactions to a different day than Friday for GFF meetings from board members.
Board member Anthony Hicks presented a financial report which indicated the treasury stood at $133,000 at the end of April. Hick expects the board to finish the year in the black.
The next GFF meeting is set for June 21 at Lake Region Hospital beginning at noon.
The new director of GFF will be Annie Deckert.
• Child care Collective continues to meet. Next steps are identifying providers and numbers of slots/financial needs to prepare for potential capital campaign effort. GFF is acting as a facilitator.
• Ole & Lena’s closed on Skyvision and is operating sales and marketing from the office. They do have some office and warehouse space available for rent.
• Bruce Thom showed several commercial spaces on his last day with GFF. One of those was the Target property and the school district has entered into a purchase agreement for that site. This will house early childhood programming and child care.
• Bauman just wrapped the skilled workforce assessment for a prospective manufacturing workforce looking to relocate to Fergus Falls. The GFF utilized a variety of media, including print, social media and radio and the WorkForce Center. The survey yielded nearly 60 responses, showcasing a high interest in this employment opportunity, with a variety of skillsets. All responses were interested in being trained for the position, if needed, and all but two were available to work full-time shifts. Over half of the respondents provided contact information, suggesting that they are interested in applying. I’ll be briefing the company later this afternoon. If they expand here, it will bring an estimated 25 jobs with pay ranges of $17-22/hour.
• Defense Alliance has introduced us to two start-ups interested in relocating to the area. This project would bring in 10-plus assembly jobs with 10-plus professional-level positions. The other is a sustainably produced proteins for the animal feed industry.
• Lastly, Mayor Ben Schierer mentioned at SOTC that there is significant interest in the area, from the hemp industry. GFF’s multiple prospects who are interested in starting up farming operations and CBD oil extraction sites in and around Fergus Falls. The potential for job creation is 45-plus and a large base for tax revenue but it is still in the exploration phase. Minnesota and the Midwest, in general, is ripe for hemp production due to the climate and the changing laws. The Minnesota Legislature is currently debating changes to the Federal Farm Bill – if passed it would match the legal definition of hemp to federal law which would lighten restrictions. The same goes for the SAFE Banking Act – right now none of GFF’s banking institutions can host accounts if related to any hemp business activity.
• The two breweries are slated for opening June-July; Sugarbomb on June 1; Uncle Eddy’s ice cream shop in mid-June; new restaurant downtown anticipated this summer; Otter Cove is proving to be a crucial amenity, too.