WREDC looks forward during annual meeting
WORTHINGTON — As Jason Turner addressed the crowd assembled at the 2014 annual meeting, he said it’s been a transition year for the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. (WREDC).
“The reigns had shifted from Glenn (Thuringer), who had been our director of WREDC for a number of years, to Abraham Algadi, who is now our director,” said Turner, how was the chairman of the board in 2013.
“The beginning of the year, we started the process of finding a new director,” Turner continued. “I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. Abraham started in May of last year and basically hit the ground running and has done some great things.”
Turner told the group some of the highlights from the WREDC, which Algadi said was one of the purposes of the meeting.
“The idea behind the annual meeting is to do two things — letting you know what we’re doing with your money and reporting back to you on the activities of the previous year,” Algadi said. “It’s also to talk about what our hopes and dreams are for the coming year.”
Turner said WREDC hit the ground running in 2013.
“Early on in the year, we adopted a new logo. It’s a nice colorful logo,” Turner said. “We got a social media breakfast going, which was very well received by businesses and individuals that wanted to learn more about promoting their business on Facebook, Twitter and the like. We had some very good feedback on that.”
While “Worthington” may be in the name of the corporation, Turner said WREDC’s work expands outside the city limits.
“Probably one of the hallmarks that happened just recently was in Round Lake, the Farley’s and Sathers facility,” Turner said. “Abraham worked very hard on facilitating AGCO and bringing them to an agreement with Farley’s and Sathers to lease the space and add 20 new jobs to that town.
“Anybody who thinks Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. is just a Worthington entity, that goes to show right there it reaches out into the county.”
In all, the WREDC has 11 small-business loans totaling nearly $150,000.
“Over 50 jobs have been retained and more than 100 created with the revolving loan fund we have in place,” Turner said.
As the WREDC has been working on expanding, one of the focuses has been on the Biotechnology Advancement Center (BAC) — the site of Thursday’s annual meeting.
“This building, the Biotechnology Advancement Center, Abraham worked with I believe Brad (Chapulis) and Craig (Clark) with the city on getting the guidelines in place for operation of this building here,” Turner said. “I can’t say enough about what a great place it is to hold meetings like this.”
While the BAC is nearly complete, it’s not quite to where the WREDC would like to see it.
“We’d like to equip this building with laboratories to finish that effort and continue the use of this building in fostering economic development possibilities,” said Bruce Heitkamp, the corporation’s 2014 chairman of the board.
Heitkamp also addressed other priorities for 2014, including working on the 10th annual Bioscience Conference and housing.
“We’d like to work with our local units of government to create housing incentives so we can foster housing programs throughout the community,” Heitkamp said. “We often run into the chicken or the egg. Do we try to focus on getting businesses in town, or providing a resident base to basically pull in people first?
“I think it’s a good endeavor to get housing here and get a really good supply of employment, and then use that as a network to bring businesses into the community.”
The annual meeting concluded with a presentation by Sanford Health Public Affairs Director Mike Daly, who talked about the new Sanford Imagenetics initiative.
“What we’re trying to do is fully embed genomic medicine into internal medicine,” Daly said. “The concept of genetic medicine has been around for a while; we’ve been doing it for a while. But to our knowledge, no one in the country has fully embedded it into internal medicine.”
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