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Farmington's Business Attraction Team wraps up its business

If anyone knows why a business opens in Farmington, it's the men and women who run those businesses. That's why city planner Lee Smick turned to a group of them for help in building a plan to attract new business.

Called the Business Attraction Team, the group had eight members, including representatives from area businesses, School District 192 superintendent Jay Haugen, and Smick. Between April 11 and June 6, the team met five times to drum up a list of workable goals that will hopefully help bring new business to town.

It's a pretty aggressive -- and extensive -- list of goals. But the list also incorporates several different perspectives.

"They have come up with points that they want the city to pay attention to," Smick said.

Perhaps the biggest set of goals focuses on name recognition. Farmington has space available for commercial and retail development, Smick said, so the group agreed that marketing the city to developers, brokers and others in the business community is a top priority.

Another part of the promotion of Farmington is a target to increase attendance at trade shows and conferences, just to set up a booth with information about the community. The group thought that doing so could increase Farmington's exposure to retailers, brokers and other groups.

"We need to get the name of Farmington out there, get people used to hearing it, especially those that are in the business of determining future business in the city," she said. "We need to get out and say 'Here we are. Come talk to us.'"

While bringing new business to the community was a big priority, so was retaining those businesses that are already in Farmington. A big focus will be put on finding ways to spotlight the businesses that are in town, Smick said, possibly through recognition at council meetings or in the city's newsletters.

Last year, the Farmington Economic Development Authority and city council started making weekly visits to businesses in town. The Business Attraction Team thought those visits were important and urged their continuation.

Members of the team brought different ideas to the group, too. For instance, Haugen brought information about School District 192's Innovation Zone, Mark Lofthus from Dakota Electric Association shared insight on state funding, financing and economic development policies. Amanda Pellicci from Pellicci Ace Hardware shared her thoughts as an existing business representative, and three members of the EDA were there to represent the city of Farmington.

The identified goals will be passed along to the EDA this month, and then to the city council. For the most part, the Business Attraction Team's meetings have ended, though Smick may look to those members for participation in future projects.

"We're going to keep it pretty flexible as far as calling meetings in the upcoming months. There could be projects we want to focus on or they may participate with marketing," Smick 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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