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City council will reach out to Farmington business owners

Farmington mayor Todd Larson is about to learn something new. He's going to learn all about what happens day-to-day in Farmington's business community.

On Thursday, Larson joined Farmington city planner Lee Smick and council member Jason Bartholomay on the first of many visits to Farmington businesses. It's a new initiative that will bring city council and staff into every one of the community's businesses over the next several months.

The business visits are part of the newly-created Business Retention and Expansion Program, a recent project of the Farmington Economic Development Authority. The BRE program is designed to bring together city staff, council members and the business owners of the community.

"The biggest thing is to meet the business owners and let them know how much we appreciate them being in down," city planner Lee Smick said. "We just want them to hear that."

Once a week, a group of two council members and a few city staffers will head out to meet and greet Farmington's business community. They're starting the program this week following a Thursday ribbon cutting at Pellicci's Ace Hardware. The first stop, Smick said, will be Tamarack Center, where they'll stop at each of the five businesses.

The city representatives want to meet as many managers and business owners as possible. They want to talk to the men and women who run Farmington's businesses, and to find out what those people like and dislike about doing business in the community. They want to hear about challenges, they want to know if there are plans in the works for the businesses. If there is a way the city can lend some sort of assistance - for instance, if the business owner is considering expanding and wants information on building permits or codes - the city group wants to know so they can share those resources. Likewise, if a business is struggling, Smick said, the city may have resources that can be helpful, as well.

"It's basically a meet and greet kind of thing, and an information-finding kind of visit," Smick said.

The visits will be about 20 minutes long -- not so long they'll interrupt productivity, but just long enough that they can get a good feel for what happens at each location and what kind of issues matter to that business. Then they'll move on to the next location, where they'll take another 20 minutes. All told, Smick said, the business visits should take a couple of hours for city staff and council members, but not all that long for the businesses.

Larson is looking forward to the business visits. He thinks it will be fun to get out and meet the people who work in the community, and to get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in the stores, restaurants and industrial businesses around town.

"I'm very excited. I like meeting people anyway, but it will be fun to meet the people, the owners, the managers and see what they do, and try to build some relationships," Larson said. "We just want to go out and let them know we appreciate them being part of the community, and also want to see if there's anything we can do for them."

The business visits will continue until council and staff have had been

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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