At a meeting of the Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) held on Thursday morning August 11, the EDA Board of Directors welcomed the new owners of Blue Earth Locker to town with the August Business Spotlight Award.
The Blue Earth Locker has been an integral part of Blue Earth since 1965. However, Zac and Kate Walters recently became the new owners after Scott and Kathy Lyon retired from company ownership this summer.
The Walters, who live near Amboy, originally intended to build their own meat locker. However, they changed course when Scott Lyon contacted them and asked if they would be interested in purchasing a meat rack instead.
The Walters accepted Lyon’s offer and purchased the Blue Earth Locker on July 1 of that year.
Now, as Zac Walters informed the EDA board, “We are operational.”
The Walters have no immediate plans to alter the locker’s operations, though they can make some simple improvements, like giving the building’s exterior a fresh coat of paint. They also hope to have more fresh meat available, which customers won’t have to defrost when they bring it home.
Walters said, “We would like to get our name out to different people and bring a different crowd to the locker. Blue Earth is great, but there’s a lot more outside of the Blue Earth area that doesn’t come here.
Kate Walters added, “We have partnerships with companies that have approached us.”
The Walters noted that the Blue Earth Locker is unique in that it is about twice the size of other meat lockers in the area.
“We can bring ten or eleven oxen a week and eight to ten pigs”, said Zac Walters.
The Walters currently have nine locker employees, two of whom work part-time.
They care. Walters informed the EDA that they were booked until mid-January to process the meat.
EDA specialist Amy Schaefer encouraged the Walters to use the various EDA loan programs if they are seeking financial assistance.
Mayor Rick Scholtes added, “Welcome to Blue Earth.”
In other cases, the EDA Blue Earth:
• Approval of a forgivable home provider loan for Joleen Nowak, owner of Joleen’s Daycare.
Nowak plans to fix a collapsing basement wall and install windows in the same room.
The project will cost a total of $7,230. The EDA will cover half of this cost, or $3,650.
“She’s the first to use or request this program, so it’s exciting,”Schaefer observed.
• Approval of a business improvement forgivable loan for Marc Meier, owner of the Cedar Inn.
Meier plans to install a new rubber roof over the restaurant’s car wash. EDA will contribute $3,346 to the estimated project cost of $6,692.
• Approval of a forgivable business improvement loan for R&D Anderson Rentals, which plans to repaint the exterior of the Thrivent Building and replace its three exterior light fixtures.
EDA will fund half of the project cost of $2,544, for a total of $1,272.
• Review of a memo from City Solicitor David Frundt, who advised the EDA that the Manske family, who own farmland adjacent to the current Golden Spike Business Park, do not wish enter into an option agreement with the city at the request of the EDA.
The Mansks are open to negotiating with the EDA for a one-act contract, where the city would pay $100,000 a year for three to five years.
The EDA filed a more in-depth discussion at that time.
• Received an update from Schaefer regarding the city’s search for a veterinarian to take over the practice of Dr. Bob Bogan.
Schaefer discovered an opportunity to attend a job fair hosted by the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association for third- and fourth-year Iowa State Veterinary students.
Schaefer has received permission from the EDA to participate in the job fair. The EDA will also cover the $100 fee for reserving a table at the event.
• Received an update from City Administrator Mary Kennedy, who announced that the BE Hospitality Project has received a $10,000 SMIF grant.
The funds will go towards a Day of the Dead festival scheduled for October 30, as well as setting up English and Spanish language classes and translating community materials to create bilingual materials.
• Approved a $500 donation to the South Central Small Business Development Center, a program that provides resources to small businesses.
• Approved Schaefer to participate in the 2022 Entrepreneurial Bridge event, to be held September 27 at Albert Lea. The EDA will cover the $25 event fee.
• Approved Kennedy and Schaefer to attend the 2022 Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities conference, to be held September 8 in Red Wing. The EDA will cover the $100 event attendance fee for Kennedy and Schaefer.
• Went behind closed doors to discuss a real estate transaction, in which the EDA did nothing.
• Postponement of next month’s EDA meeting to Wednesday, September 7 at 7:15 a.m.