Economic Development and Planning Committee
Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 1:30 p.m.
Assembly Room – Sawyer County Courthouse
Committee Members Attending: Ken Maki, Hal Helwig, Tom Duffy, Dean Pearson, Walt Jaeger
Others Attending: John Saunders, Linda Zillmer, Diane Schobert, Linda Clifford, Sally Schrader, Scott Allen,
Called to order at 1:35
Meeting agenda – Motion by Duffy, second by Pearson, to approve the meeting agenda with the elimination of item 8, NWRPC Report
Minutes of the meeting of April 12, 2011 – Motion by Duffy, second by Jaeger, to approve the minutes of April 12, 2011
Audience recognition – Linda Zillmer provided the committee with the Hayward School District sheet on cost avoidance of closing the Stone Lake School. Document shows $339,000 cost avoidance by closing the school. Zillmer asked the committee to take on the Stone Lake School district as an economic development committee issue.
Hayward DNR Forestry Tree Nursery Update – Maki shared that the DNR had come up with a Division of Forestry strategic directions that doesn’t really describe the nursery issue. DNR officials had contacted the lobbyist and asked what Sawyer County wanted to do. Maki provided the three options that addressed the nursery. Helwig had met with John G. who had indicated that the decision would be made in a month or two. Maki communicated with the chief forester of MN who shared that they are currently down to two nurseries and are shrinking their program. A legislative bill to close the MN nurseries is in legislative committee at present. A recommendation was made by the committee to continue to promote and push the issue through the press and lobbyist.
Alternative fuel options for County buildings, status update – Maki reported that he was in contact with Swedish representatives experienced in bio fuels. 30% of renewable energy in Sweden is done with biomass. Maki provided them with a tour of the jails and meeting with Pete Sanders regarding the transit garage. The Swedish model uses mostly green biomass. Maki asked for direction from the committee to explore the model of using county forest crops to provide wood to the pellet mill. Berard will provide a report to the committee at the next meeting.
WHEDA Programs – Diane Schobert, Business Development Officer, reported on WHEDA programs for business and economic development. WHEDA has continued to be involved in housing but they are now putting more emphasis on economic development and business loans. New Markets tax credit program is directed at technology firms and other firms to provide tax credits. (WHEDA info on file).
Indianhead Community Action Agency report, including Community Development Block Grant housing rehabilitation project – Shrader provided an update on the CDBG loan status (on file). They have loaned out approximately $470,000 to this point. They have acquired about 9 homes in Sawyer County through the neighborhood stabilization program. Some will be available for rent and sale within the low to moderate income range. There is a down payment and closing cost assistance program to help with the program.
Sawyer County Economic Development Corporation report – Scott Allen provided an update. Four applications to the department of commerce have been submitted for planning grants. If approved they will help the communities plan for their economic development and central business districts. SCDC will be providing the grant match. The Department of Commerce is closing down and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will be established. Allen submitted a regional economic development organization application back in December, but hasn’t heard back yet. A number of local businesses have come in seeking loans but SCDC has a limited loan pool. More businesses are being proposed by currently unemployed. SCDC is working with the chamber and downtown merchants to do a light display for the Christmas season. Allen attended a meeting in MN with Sheriff Kelsey to research supportive housing initiatives to cut down on crime.
Hayward Area Visitor and Convention Bureau report – Linda Clifford provided a report on behalf of the VCB. She highlighted the Wisconsin Department of Tourism 2010 Economic Impact Fact Sheet. The VCB website allows visitors to save their itinerary and come back and access it as a later time. The VCB is working on television shows to be aired during March and April. They are also considering a request for Christmas light show funding.
Monthly expense vouchers - None
Other matters for discussion only –
Berard shared current sales tax and unemployment data:
Unemployment Rate Sawyer WI US
March 2010 13.6% 10.10% 10.20%
March 2011 11.7% 8.10% 9.20%
(Not seasonally adjusted)
Sales Tax Revenues
March 2010 $92,892
March 2011 $85,593
Motion by Jaeger, second by Duffy to adjourn. Meeting adjourned
Recorded by David Berard