Marshall EDA taking regional approach, director says
MARSHALL — While things might have shifted a little bit due to COVID-19, the Marshall Economic Development Authority has tried to stick to the work plan of improving economic opportunities for citizens and businesses as well as creating jobs.
EDA Director Lauren Deutz delivered a report to the Lyon County board of commissioners Tuesday. She said the EDA is trying to take a regional approach and wants to hear feedback from the county.
“One of our main goals has been a regional approach and a coordinated effort with other organizations,” Deutz said. “I think the main key here is we would really like to hear what the county needs from us and what areas it feels would be helpful from the EDA’s standpoint.”
One of the EDA’s goals is to expand and diversify employment opportunities. Deutz said one way of achieving that would be establishing city-owned “shovel ready” developments available to potential developers.
She added that in order to retain businesses and expand on projects, they can help promote businesses resources and offer incentive programs through tax abatement and a Facade Improvement Grant Program.
Another aspect Deutz hopes to expand on is promoting Marshall as a regional center for shopping, dining, entertainment and recreation. Deutz said the EDA would maintain an inventory of available land in order to expedite site recommendations as well as keeping an updated list of sales tax and traffic counts, with a lot of the workforce coming from the surrounding area.
“With our actual population we’re at about 14,000, but during the day we’re doubling that and that’s due to the communities around us,” Deutz said. “Our county as a whole very strongly supports the Marshall community and our workforce is from a lot of those surrounding communities.”
Throughout the past several months, businesses across the area have taken a huge hit financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While a majority of businesses have remained open, sales have continued to dip, however, so Deutz said they are currently working on grant and loan program applications.
“We are fortunate that a majority of our businesses were considered essential. Of course the other thing to consider is that even though businesses are open, their sales are down and many businesses are operating at the 30-40% of their comparables from last year, so that’s where we’re putting together our grant program,” Deutz said. “For our loan program, we said you had to be closed or completely shut down but now as you move into the grant you have to have a conversation of although they were open do we still allow them to apply.”
In an effort to strengthen the downtown retail and service districts’ economic vitality, Deutz hopes to do that by creating redevelopment plans for both the Block 11 site and the Marshall Hotel site by the end of the year. The redevelopment plan for Block 11 would help complement the current blend of businesses downtown.
As for the surrounding communities who are hoping to bring a new business to town, Deutz said they are trying to find avenues to support those businesses and the workforce while simultaneously helping the ones that are already established.
“We do want to find a way to continue to support the communities that surround Marshall, so as we try to bring new businesses into town or help expand the ones that are already here, we really do want to demonstrate that all of these communities who make an impact on Lyon County are included in our annual report,” Deutz said.
Deutz added that there are some developments that are taking advantage of the low interest rates and the loan programs that are being offered.
“Right now, I’m working with about four different developers on different projects and we’re starting to see some expansion projects because interest rates are low,” Deutz said. “If their business wasn’t affected and they were able to function at full capacity, then they are taking advantage and getting those low-interest loans.”
Deutz said they can help businesses apply for grants, especially as they start on their work plan for next year.
“We are currently working on our 2021 plan and with that, we are always here to support the county as a whole,” Deutz said.