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City should pick a way to fund EDC head and stick to it

New Ulm’s Economic Development Corporation has been without a director for a couple of years now, and it it asking the city again for help to hire one. NUEDC at one time had Brian Tohal as its director, funded by subsidies from the City of New Ulm and the Public Utilities Commission. But three years ago the city council decided it would be better off if it hired its own ED director.

The city ended its subsidies for the NUEDC position and hired an assistant city manager/ED director. Audra Shaneman took the job two years ago, but this year the city council decided the money it was paying her with would be better used for another IT technician. Her position was cut, and she resigned last month.

New Ulm’s economic development efforts, therefore, are adrift without someone to handle the job. The NUEDC is asking for $50,000 from the New Ulm EDA to help it hire a new director.

New Ulm should have an ED director. Economic development activities require persistence and continuity of effort. If the New Ulm City Council was serious about having one on staff, it should have been committed to the idea beyond a couple of years.

The city should return to the subsidy system that allowed the NUEDC to hire and support the work of an economic developer who will be around for a while and get some things done.

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