BIDC to expand focus

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Since it was formed in the late 1950s to help Loren Tyler expand his Tyler Corporation of Benson for the manufacturing of liquid and dry fertilizer spreaders, the Benson Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) has been working to facilitate economic development.

The private corporation raised funds in 1959 by selling $100 BIDC stock certificates. Since then, its investments in facilitating land and building expansions have helped it increase its fund balance through interest payments.

Because it is a private corporation, the BIDC has been able to work behind the scenes with entrepreneurs on projects. It has worked to secure land and buildings for businesses prior to them announcing their plans publically.  It has also been able to work with the Benson Economic Development Authority on economic development projects.

Throughout its nearly 60-year history, the BIDC has focused its efforts on bricks and mortar projects to help businesses build and expand. Those projects helped local businesses create new jobs and bring people to the community.

Now the BIDC sees its mission expanding beyond bricks and mortar projects.

At its Oct. 11 meeting at McKinney’s, the BIDC shareholders elected Corey Claussen of Custom Roto-Mold its new president taking over for Bob Lange of Lange Associates. Lange remains on the board as immediate past president.

Agralite General Manager Kory Johnson was elected vice president. The BIDC had been operating without a vice president in recent years.

Brian Samuelson was elected treasurer replacing long-time BIDC Treasurer Bill Luzum. Samuelson, a Benson resident, is a vice president of lending with the Co-op Credit Union in Montevideo. Reed Anfinson, owner and publisher of the Swift County Monitor-News, was re-elected the corporation’s secretary. Tom Traen, general manager of Glacial Plains Cooperative, was elected to the board of directors.

A significant challenge for employers in rural Minnesota today is finding and keeping employees. A lack of employees has caused some businesses to expand outside the area, held the expansion plans back for growing businesses, caused manufacturing delays for others, and has hurt the community in its effort to bring news businesses to the area.

The BIDC agreed its expanded mission must include working with the City of Benson, Swift County, and Benson Public Schools on employee retention and recruitment.

It further needs to work on issues that may hold the community back when it is trying to bring new people to the Benson area. The quality of the schools and the athletic teams, the quality of medical facilities and availability of senior living housing, and the recreation and entertainment opportunities available all have an impact on the Benson area’s attractiveness.

The BIDC sees a role in facilitating conversations between businesses and public bodies on how the community can act to meet the challenges that hold it back as well as developing new, coordinated strategies for moving forward.

Its board plans on meeting regularly in the coming months as it develops an outline for its efforts.

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