This past year, the Redwood County Economic Development Authority (EDA) underwent strategic planning and this spring adopted a two-year Strategic Plan. During the planning process one-on-one interviews were conducted, focus groups were held and a countywide survey was issued. Through these activities four priorities were identified as the best ways for the EDA to catalyze business retention and economic growth.
- Workforce: Redwood County is comprised of a diverse business sector, with employment opportunities in many industries. Over half of the workforce is supported by private companies, followed by Government, not-for-profit and self-employed organizations. Workforce scarcity is seen as a key impediment to business growth. Unless workforce challenges are addressed, the County will continue to see employers competing for employees between each other and/or delaying growth plans. Additionally, recruitment of new businesses will be limited. To address this need, the EDA will provide resources to new and existing businesses through workforce attraction and retention tools.
- Housing: Housing is instrumental in economic and community development; businesses may struggle to retain and recruit employees without a housing supply that meets the needs and preferences of the population. Further, if employees are unable to find housing near their place of employment, they may choose to live and work elsewhere. This was identified as a concern among Redwood County stakeholders. Concerns were not only related to availability and affordability, but also to the quality of current stock. Stakeholders suggested that the EDA may be able to better assist communities by understanding the current housing situation across the county and working with stakeholders to address housing needs.
- Broadband: In 2021 the EDA prioritized the need to facilitate the buildout of broadband infrastructure for the county. Significant progress emerged through these efforts including successfully attaining grants and partnering with internet service providers. Continuing to move these efforts forward to ensure all residents and businesses have access to affordable, reliable internet.
- Child Care: Child care availability and affordability continues to be a concern, with many stakeholders noting that child care is a main factor in workforce attraction and retention. Although many activities have been undertaken, beginning in 2017, to help address child care capacity, many challenges remain. It is important the EDA stays engaged in supporting child care access and affordability.
The work of the EDA expands beyond the specific priorities identified within the strategic plan. Assisting entrepreneurs and businesses with access to financial and technical support, strengthening leaders through LINC Redwood County, and working to market and promote Redwood County as a place for businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish will continue.
The EDA will be intentionally focusing on the 2023-2025 strategic goals and objectives to position the County for the future by addressing key barriers to success in catalyzing business retention, job creation, and economic growth. Through partnerships, the EDA will help ensure that Redwood County is recognized as a premier place for businesses, communities and residents to thrive.