The Crookston Housing and Economic Development Authority board met Thursday morning at the Technology Park in Crookston.

The board discussed plans to have Short Elliot Hendrickson (SHE) tour Washington School when they come up to tour the pool to ensure the building is in good condition since they are interested in occupying it when the Crookston School District moves out. �Every business I talk to wants to know what we are doing about daycare,� said CHEDA Executive Director Karie Kirschbaum. �If we had that building, we would open it up to home daycares because we want to support them too. We will be working with Tri-Valley�s Maureen Ham and Jason Carlson because they have done a lot of work, and we aren�t going to reinvent things, we will go from there. If we could get the building, it is set up in a pretty good way.�

The City of Crookston and the Minnesota Department of Transportation believe the Tri-Valley building needs to be demolished now that Tri-Valley has moved to the Fournet Building across the street. The City would like to develop the property if the demolition happens. �The biggest thing is the safety issues, obviously with the accidents and tragedy that has happened there,� said Kirschbaum. �So we are working with several entities to see what grants exist. We need help as a city too. Brandon Carlson (Public Works Director) contacted MnDOT to see if they would take a portion because they want a portion of the lane because of safety issues. The community wants more parking, and it is right by the river, which is a great location.�

The City has preliminary plans for the property if they tear down the Tri-Valley building. �We are looking at taking it out, flattening it, putting in parking and park-type stuff along Broadway,� said Kirschbaum. �Towards the river, we would like to put a building of some sort in to develop where they can see the river, experience it and people can enjoy it, whether it is food or shops or whatever just to make a place like that.�

The board unanimously approved the promotion of Theresa Tahran to Director of Housing. She has worked at CHEDA for 17 years and does most of the Public Housing and Section 8 housing work. �Theresa is familiar with HUD paperwork, Public Housing paperwork, and accounting, and it is so much work, and the more I got into this, I thought Teresa is doing all this work, and I am looking over all her work to say, yeah, good job, and that isn�t fair,� said Kirschbaum. �I am an economic developer, and about 10 percent of my job is with the housing and Section 8, and I am happy to do that, but she deserves the title and deserves the money to go with it, to be comparable with other directors in our area.�

An innovative tech business is interested in coming to town and is interested in five acres of land next to the Ag Innovative Campus. �They are a minority-owned entity that works to help food deserts, and they have innovative ways with everything from greenhouses to different education-type things,� said Kirschbaum. �They would be a sister-type entity with the Ag Innovation Campus. The road we have has to have innovative businesses by it as part of the grant, which would be the case.�

CHEDA will have $108,120 for storefront revitalization for interested Crookston businesses. There will be two grants, one with a maximum of $5,000 for projects and one for $1,000 for paint and signage. �The City approved $58,120 for the storefront revitalization program, so I asked the board to approve $50,000 out of our community development monies, so we will have $108,120 available for the city businesses to update their storefronts.�
Businesses would pay 30 percent, and the City would pay 70 percent up to $5,000. The grant information will be released on June 1.

Kirchbaum said she is interested in bringing more equine events to Crookston with the beautiful facility at UMC. �There is a lot of money in equine, and the study that the University of Minnesota did in 2018 said there is $1 billion in the equine industry in the State of Minnesota,� said Kirschbaum. �I went to Las Vegas and met with people with South Point, and they have an amazing facility. That is the type of people we want to get advice from. They want to continue to increase and grow their reigning, cutting, and rodeo industry, their Appaloosa and Palomino shows, and all the things that come with that because the family environment when you are around the equine business is the most wholesome environment you can think of.�

UMC has a beautiful facility and would be a big part of attracting equine events to town. �We have one of the top schools and equine programs in the region, so if we can tap into what they already have and begin to build that and bring all the shops and businesses that come with that, it would be fun and healthy, and Crookston would have something that nobody else would have,� said Kirschbaum.

The City of Crookston received a check from Dennis Egan of Epitome Energy of $250,000 to refund the forgivable loan he received from the City for his project. When Egan announced he would move the project to Grand Forks, North Dakota, the loan was no longer forgivable, and he had to pay the City back, and he did that after the announcement.

Oak Court is currently at 80 percent occupancy, and Tahran said they have several applications and could only have two spots available next month.

The board received information on a survey that the University of Minnesota Extension conducted to get more information from downtown businesses. Only 19 of 80 businesses filled out the survey, but some good information was gathered, and it will be made public within the next month.