Rushford promotes business opportunities

A map of the businesses for the upcoming Open Doors: A Tour of Business Opportunities, provided by the Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce.
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After months of discussions in closed sessions, the City of Rushford has decided to reject a counter-offer from Farmers Win Cooperative to purchase the former elevator site in downtown Rushford. The council approved the submission of a purchase agreement earlier this month, including the acceptance of counter-offers.

The city’s offering was largely focused more on the eventualities than on the height. It included a Phase I inspection/due diligence phase with the ability to survey, review, inspect and test the property. Previous offers to purchase the property required a “clean site” to avoid surprises related to unknown issues, contamination or remediation.

During the closed session, Attorney Mike Flaherty presented several options to the council. Because Farmers Win’s counteroffer was different than the city’s contingent purchase agreement, he proposed an option contract. This gives the city the right and time to conduct due diligence without making a final offer. The city reserves the right to purchase, but is not obliged to do so. The council later unanimously approved that the staff seek an option contract to allow time for the studies to be conducted before final decisions are made.

The property was also part of the gathering in anticipation of an upcoming chamber event. During the Citizens’ Time, Rushford Peterson Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Jen Hengel spoke to the council about a self-guided tour/open house on business opportunities in the town. Open Doors: A Tour of Business Opportunities is scheduled for Thursday, November 17 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will provide a tour of businesses and buildings for sale, as well as space available for lease.

Estate agents, business owners and others who are available to provide property details and answer questions will be in attendance, as well as information on financing programs from local lenders and the Rushford Economic Development Authority. In some locations, representatives from the Rushford Area Historical Society will also provide details of the history of the property.

Rushford Councilor Jim O’Donnell, Acting Mayor, at the Oct. 24 meeting. Also pictured at right is town clerk Kathy Zacher.
Photo by Kirsten Zöllner

“Successful companies have operated from the vast majority of these locations, which are now presenting opportunities for new owners,” the chamber’s event details said. “The properties are available to rent/sell due to upcoming retirements of long-term business owners, mergers of businesses elsewhere and new build in Rushford.”

The tour includes 12 properties in prime downtown locations. The owners of Norsland Lefse, Stumpy’s Bar & Restaurant, Loken’s Rushford Inn and Shawnee’s Bar & Grill are all retiring. Three other properties have had businesses expanding to other locations in the city, including 120 W. Jessie (currently unoccupied), the former location of Farmers Win Cooperative, and Horihan Insurance & Flooring America. At the property at 107 State Highway 16, several businesses relocated after a fire earlier this year. Other properties include Jessie Street Java, the historic buildings at 100 West Jessie (formerly Il Luigi Italian Restaurant) and 300 S. Mill Street (formerly Tri-County Record building) and 107 State Highway 16 (formerly Subway).

“These are opportunities for the next generation of entrepreneurs,” says Hengel happily. “The public is welcome. Come and see these buildings.”

The council also heard several other updates from staffers. An updated Application for Airport Engineering Services Qualifications will reflect new changes to the Capital Improvement Plan. Councilwoman Sally Ryman questioned the possible land purchase for the airport.

City Manager Tony Chladek responded that an expansion could happen at some point in the future. “Now might be the time to move on and acquire that. They say now is the time to move this process forward,” he said, referring to a discussion with Federal Aviation Administration officials. $220,000 in capital improvement funding is currently available.

The area in question is currently owned by two to three private property owners. A part is currently forested. It would be an FAA process. “The federal government goes above and beyond to ensure property owners receive fair and reasonable prices. It would allow better control of pruning in airspace,” added Zacher.

During the reports, it was noted that there might finally be some traction on a potential bike path near the school. “There’s over two million federal grants for Southeast Minnesota, but we have to be careful about what we wish for,” Zacher said. “We received the grant to launch the canoe, but had to spend a lot of money on the engineering before the project could even begin.”

Since the city was unable to obtain grants for a sidewalk/path to the school, city engineer Derek Olinger is conducting a quick analysis to determine if a path can be created internally by connecting to the school parking lot rather than the existing city sidewalks . “That might turn out to be something we could do a lot easier internally. There are many different things that they think about.” However, the path would be on school property and would require an easement of way between the city and the school.

“I’ve always found it very useful to network that over there,” noted Councilor Jim O’Donnell, who served as acting mayor for the meeting.

“It would be a huge step; That’s where most of the traffic occurs during the school day,” Ryman reiterated.

“It makes sense when you’re building a school in the middle of nowhere that you have a way to get there,” added Volkmann. It was determined that one reason Zacher said the grant applications were rejected was that the school did not plan the sidewalks/paths. “The school should be motivated.”

“It was an afterthought,” added O’Donnell.

The next regular council meeting will be on Monday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. The public is encouraged to participate.


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