Viewpoint: Red Wing has many economic development partners


Since arriving to work for the City of Red Wing nearly nine months ago, I have had the chance to work with all of the local economic development partners. Yes, there is a strong partnership among various organizations that all play a role in strengthening the economy of this river city. The partnership list is quite long and impressive.

I would like to provide brief introductions with more information to follow in future viewpoint articles. Those directly connected with city government include the Port Authority and the Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Red Wing Ignite, Downtown Main Street, Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau receive some financial support from the city, but they all leverage other funding sources to fulfill their missions.

Goodhue County and Minnesota State College Southeast also provide added value in numerous ways.

Previously, the Red Wing Port Authority was a separate entity from city government. It still has its own budget and statutory powers, but the Port Authority is now administered within the city's Community Development Department. According to the city's enabling resolution, the Port Authority is an economic development agency established to carry out economic and industrial development and redevelopment within the city in accordance with such general policies as may be established by the council. I serve as its executive director, and Shari Chorney is the business development manager.

The Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority provides housing opportunities to elderly, disabled, handicapped and family households. The HRA utilizes local, state and federal resources to administer various affordable housing programs in the city. With Randal Hemmerlin as its executive director, the HRA also has community redevelopment initiatives that assist with the development of businesses and their properties.

Red Wing Ignite helps build our economy and fosters innovation by supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and students. The nonprofit has created a hub for innovation and business development. They've recently been recognized for their work and selected by US Ignite and the National Science Foundation to join other cities in the nation as a Smart Gigabit Community. Red Wing represents the only non-metropolitan city. Neela Mollgaard is its executive director.

Red Wing Downtown Main Street's purpose is to strengthen downtown as the center of community through education, volunteer support, and concentrated efforts in design and preservation, promotion, business development and organization. Megan Tsui, as executive director, began her leadership of this organization in late 2016. Recently, they organized the popular annual winter downtown festival, Holiday Stroll, and launched its first successful Winter Planter Contest.

The Red Wing Chamber of Commerce has as its mission to represent the interest of its members with the goal of increasing, retaining, promoting and fostering the economic health and quality of life in the Red Wing area. Their office is located on a prominent corner at Main Street and East Avenue. Patti Brown, its executive director, is seen at many events throughout the year as an ambassador and cheerleader for the city of Red Wing.

Red Wing's Visitors and Convention Bureau is directed by Arloa Bach, which is located in the railroad depot near Levee Park. The VCB is an important asset in marketing Red Wing as a tourist destination. Their website is full of information of places to stay, events and things to do in the area. An online version of the Red Wing Visitors Guide 2017 is also available on this website.

Goodhue County's Economic Development Authority was created in 1995 to carry out economic and industrial development and redevelopment on behalf of the county's interest in job development and increased tax base. They contract with Community and Economic Development associates to provide technical and management expertise. Most recently, the EDA sponsored a Housing Summit on Nov. 7 to address affordable housing needs, programs and ideas.

Minnesota State College Southeast has a vision of serving individual and regional needs for lifelong learning and career development. They have 30 programs within eight major fields, ranging from business and management to health and medicine. One unique and notable study field in Red Wing is musical instrument repair, which brings in participants from all over the world. In addition to Red Wing, Southeast has a campus in Winona with a combined student population of nearly 2,900.

All partners meet regularly as a team to make sure we are each doing our part to improve Red Wing's economy. My job, as the city's new community development director, is to help coordinate those efforts so that we work together to achieve our common goals. We will also make sure that the customer's experience is a positive one in Red Wing.