by Peg Craig
The I-94 Chamber of Commerce members met at the end of January to hear the State of the Cities reports from the mayors and administrators in the eight municipalities included in the area served by the Chamber. All of the cities reported increased housing starts and successful efforts to keep property taxes low while delivering services to their citizens. The eight cities are Albertville, Corcoran, St. Michael, Hanover, Dayton, Medina, Otsego and Rogers.
Chamber of Council President D. J. Hartley welcomed the members and introduced Chamber Board Members. The Chamber exists to meet the needs of local businesses with marketing, ties to local and federal legislators, networking, educational opportunities, contacts with potential customers and employees, internet exposure and other resources. The office of the Chamber of Commerce has moved to 21370 John Milless Drive, Suite 3, in Rogers.
The City of Albertville began the reports. Mayor Jillian Hendrickson said “those who get involved make a community vibrant” and thanked Chamber members for their support of the I-94 expansion efforts.
City Administrator Adam Nafstad said 500 building permits were issued last year and a number of new businesses have come to town. Coming to Albertville in 2017 will be new businesses, sewer extensions, the Central Park Depot multiuse structure and other park improvements. Planning for the Albertville Business Park and the Mall of Entertainment is continuing and construction is expected to begin this year.
The Corcoran report was given by City Administrator Brad Martens. He mentioned the challenge of building community in a 36 square mile area that is moving from rural to suburban. Events that bring residents together include the Hamel Rodeo, the Hennepin County Fair, Lions Tractor Pull and annual Firearm Safety Program.
Looking ahead, he showed the concept plan of the future downtown which will be located at the intersection of County Rds. 10 and 116. Last year there were 59 new residences built and 118 lots platted. He expects continued residential and commercial growth as sewer and water service is extended to additional parts of the city.
Mayor of St. Michael Kevin Kasel, as host of the event, welcomed the Chamber of Commerce members pointing out that “I-94 is the lifeblood of our area” and turned to City Administrator Steve Bot to give the report on the city.
Bot pointed to St. Michael’s core values of cooperation, customer service, innovation, efficiency, continual improvement, quality and hard work. He noted the many new and expanding businesses in the city. Permits for 74 housing units were issued in 2016 and there will be 4 active developments building homes in 2017. City officials plan to continue productive partnerships at all levels to foster growth with high service and low cost.
Mayor Chris Kauffman of Hanover spoke about the successes of that community in the past year. They completed the Historic Bridge Rehab Project and saw the start of Bridgewater senior living complex on the Hennepin County side of the river.
They will continue to repave their streets without assessing the adjacent property owners and will build a public works facility which should allow for twenty years growth.
Dayton is also building a new public works building, said Mayor Tim McNeil. Last year 122 residential building permits were issued in six developments. The French Lake Industrial site is ready for building and a master plan was drawn to develop the Stephens Farm property to provide park access along the Mississippi River. In 2017 a 49 unit apartment building will be built to provide work force housing. Additional housing developments will bring future residents.
Dayton hopes that the Brockton interchange will be included in the state budget this year to connect to a road that will eventually run north and cross the river. Mayor McNeil said, “Great things are coming, we are dreaming big.”
Medina City Administrator Scott Johnson said 64 single family homes were built in 2016 and new businesses were opened. Several street projects were completed as well. Even though their 2017 budget is higher, the tax rate is lower because of increased valuation in the tax base.
This year will bring the completion of Wealshire a 150 unit memory care facility and the Medina AutoMotorPlex providing retail space and private garages for motorsports enthusiasts.
Otsego issued 219 building permits for new homes in 2016, said Interim Administrator Adam Flaherty.
An additional 250 lots were platted. Several new businesses opened and more are planned including a Guardian Angels facility. Park improvements were made in several places with opportunities for community gardens and Mississippi river access. A new elementary/junior high (E-8) school will be opening in the fall of 2017. The search for a new City Administrator has begun.
Steve Stahmer, City Administrator of Rogers, finished the reports. Rogers has had significant commercial and industrial development, particularly on the Kinghorn property. An auditorium and classroom wing is being added to the high school and trails were built to provide safe routes to schools. Residential development continues with 49 single family homes constructed and a 168 unit apartment building approved.
The Laurel Creek development will eventually have 460 residences with construction starting in 2017. Stahmer expects continued interest in industrial and commercial development in Rogers with emphasis on “smaller box” retail.