1/29/2013 10:23:00 AM Chatfield working with new
economic development coordinator
By Anton Adamek
If one is looking to open a business in or around Chatfield and looking for help to get going, with business plan strategies or have any number of issues standing in the way of that ribbon cutting ceremony, then go and meet Chris Giesen.
As the new economic development authority (EDA) coordinator for the city of Chatfield, Giesen is looking forward to helping people with questions of that nature. He is also looking forward to becoming a part of the positive economic growth he sees in Chatfield's present and future.
"I feel like I can help create a better quality of life for the people of Chatfield and the surrounding community through economic development," shared Giesen.
Giesen, 28, was born and raised in Rochester and still lives there while also having plans to move into the Chatfield area. He went to college at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., which is the birth home of Amelia Earhart and considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A.
"I lived three houses down from the 'most haunted house' in the city," he said laughing. Despite the conditions, Giesen attended Benedictine College for a political science undergraduate degree.
His first job out of college was centered around political campaigns and he eventually started working at the Minnesota State Capitol for a House Caucus. After going to law school for a short time and realizing it wasn't for him, he got his current job with the Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) and has been working in southeast Minnesota for the past four years. CEDA provides a staff that is able to assist each city's EDA or individual businesses when they need it. They are essentially a library of information for each city to draw upon for their own benefit and economic interests.
Giesen's undergrad and other jobs leading up to his current employment have taught him important lessons in communication and public relations that he has identified as being very beneficial for his current work.
"I think my work then transferred well to working with businesses today," reflected Giesen, "In business, you have to get the job done and you can't wait because time lost is money lost and I understand that. I also gained the skills to help people get to where they want to go."
Giesen has confidence in his communication skills and also in his understanding the needs of local businesses. He has spent the past four years working as the EDA coordinator in Harmony, a position that he continues to serve in.
"Administratively, it's the same as Chatfield," he stated, "Where it differs greatly are in the values and economic philosophy of the city of Chatfield. The way and the process of how things are done are different and I have to work with that."
As an employee of CEDA, Giesen has been able to get to know each community he has served in. "One of my first projects I worked on through CEDA was in Chatfield," he recalled. Giesen has been able to use that expertise and experience in the first two months he has served as Chatfield's EDA coordinator.
Economically diverse is one way Giesen would describe Chatfield. "There are big projects, redevelopment projects, prospective business owners, new and old businesses alike undergoing expansion," listed Giesen. "It's really an economic web because so many of these projects work together in important ways."
He cited the Center for the Arts as an example of a large project that the city has recognized as an economic asset and figured out how to use for both personal and community economic growth. "Chatfield has focused their economic growth with an art perspective, which is great," said Giesen, "Each community has a different way of recognizing what works for them."
Knowing the path the city is taking helps Giesen understand what goals may be most important for the city.
"In the short-term I want to continue to help downtown in the upswing they are experiencing," described Giesen. "We've seen a couple new businesses open up, so we should keep up with that."
He also stressed the importance of not forgetting about or taking for granted the businesses that have already been in the community for some time. "How we help them help themselves," stated Giesen, "is very important."
He also has a goal to see the development of a hardware or variety store business in the future, saying, "I think having that amenity in town would be great."
Long-term goals are more difficult to nail down as there are a lot of "maybes."
Giesen is looking forward to the city receiving upwards of $290,000 because of the half-cent sales tax Rochester reauthorized, but was restructured through a House tax bill written by Rep. Greg Davids that would send a per capita amount of money spent through that sales tax in Rochester back to the city.
The money is tabbed for just economic development, but Giesen says that could include improving industrial land, putting in infrastructure and other economic development projects. The money is being paid back in increments with the first installment expected to be received in July of 2013. Giesen hopes this money may just be the first of many positive economic developments for Chatfield.
With having a scenic location, multiple facilities for events, and a diverse business atmosphere, Giesen is trying to make sure the dominoes are stacked in the right way so the community gets its maximum benefit.
"We've seen an uptick in the local economy in the past couple years and I believe we are on a good path," expressed Giesen.
Any type of program that helps downtown, brings new businesses to the area, assists the schools and improves the overall quality of life in Chatfield is what Giesen is seeking right now.
Any one who wishes to speak with him can do so in person at the city office building on Mondays and Wednesdays or can contact him at (507) 867-1523.