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County ag expo vision is growing

The idea was to hold a seminar about wine production possibilities in Goodhue County.

That plan seems to have morphed into a full-blown agriculture expo.

The Goodhue County Economic Development Authority on Tuesday approved the formation of a subcommittee to organize an expo highlighting county ag industry, including a newcomer to the scene -- wine.

Commissioner Ron Allen suggested earlier this month the county get the word out about wine -- a booming business since the University of Minnesota's development of several grape varieties that can survive Minnesota's harsh winters.

"This county has good soil, terrain and slopes for the wine industry," Allen said. "It's not that we're trying to force it on anybody. It's just another avenue to look at throughout the county."

Instead of focusing solely on wine, the expo will likely feature already existing agriculture industries. Commissioners steered away from Allen's idea of a wine-only event, saying the county's deep agricultural roots should not be ignored.

Some commissioners worried the EDA board could be sending the wrong message with an expo.

"We should not be in the business of saying this is a cause we want everyone to do," Rechtzigel said. "This should tell people if you're interested, here are some options, some things we can do to help."

Allen argued the EDA should make a habit of getting the word out about business opportunities.

"We need to bring the ideas to the county and let people pick from the menu what they want to do," Allen said.

Commissioners did not set a specific timeline for the expo. The subcommittee will generate ideas and come up with a budget.