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City of Farmington will host bank summit next week

Farmington Economic Development Authority member Jeri Jolley was amazed last year when she heard about the funding programs available to potential business owners.

That's saying a lot, because Jolley is a retired bank manager.

But that's also the driving force behind the Farmington Bank Summit scheduled for next week.

Hosted by the EDA, the bank summit will bring staff from all of the community's banks to Farmington City Hall, just so they can all learn about the government funding programs offered for folks who want to open a new business.

The bank summit comes to Farmington thanks to comments made last year by Jolley and former city council and EDA member Julie May, who also works in the banking industry. During a meeting last year, Smick outlined some of the government-funded programs available at the county and state level. They were programs neither Jolley nor May had heard of before, Jolley said.

"Some of those programs match dollar for dollar," Jolley said, "but if someone had walked into the bank and asked me to work with them, I would have to say, 'I don't know.' I would feel a little embarrassed not to know. I certainly think the banks need to know what's going on out there so they can respond when somebody walks in and says, 'Can you help me out?'"

Smick hopes the bank summit will help educate Farmington's financial institutions about all of the programs offered to potential business owners, and funding options for existing business owners, as well. For instance, the EDA is working through a new business subsidy program to attract new business and retain existing businesses. The city also has money set aside through Community Development Block Grant funds from the Dakota County Community Development Agency.

Jolley had never heard of CDBG funds until she took her seat on the EDA. When she found out about some of the programs, she thought about some of her former bank customers, and how those programs might have been helpful, she said.

On the other hand, Jolley knows what banks require when it comes to business lending. There are requirements on that side, too, which most city officials probably do not know, so the bankers will also provide information to the city, Smick said.

"They learn from us, we learn from them. We're going to work off of each other. We're going to share ideas and do some brainstorming. The question we want to answer is, how can we, as a local government, partner with our local banks to both entice and retain commercial and industrial business?" Smick said.

The Farmington Bank Summit take place at 2 p.m. March 20 at Farmington City Hall. Even though she's retired from Castle Rock Bank, Jolley plans to attend.

"I think we're all going to be sharing information and I believe that's a good thing. I have high hopes and my fingers crossed that this is going to be a big boost for Farmington. We have a lot to offer here," Jolley said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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