Development foundation looks to future
Looking to the future was the focus of the Medford Area Development Foundation (MADF) annual meeting Monday afternoon.
This includes looking to the future in serving business and industry in the community and helping grow new ones as well as within the MADF organization membership.
MADF president Mark Hoffman reported that the group has been working to prepare for the future to assure continued support of economic development in the community.
“Preparing for our future will include integrating younger generations into our organizations and seeking out the future leaders of our community,” Hoffman said.
To this end, he said they are developing a succession plan within their officers that will include a mentoring program.
“We feel taking these steps now will insure the future of economic development,” he said. “We are looking forward to the future!”
In addition to looking forward, Hoffman reported on what the foundation has accomplished in the past year including the start of a locally-controlled revolving loan fund (RLF). In the RLF, money is loaned out to a business to expand or start-up in conjunction with financing packages from a financial institution. As the money is repaid with interest it goes into a fund where it can be loaned out to other businesses.
The city, county and villages all had longstanding RLF programs that were subject to state and federal rules. The state government in the past year took the funds for those programs away and with it eliminated an important local economic development tool.
Thanks to support from Taylor County in the form of a $50,000 grant, MADF was able to set up a local loan program and in December finalized its first loan.
According to Sue Emmerich of MADF, the loan program has a major advantage over the previous programs in that because it is entirely run through the MADF applicants can remain confidential. She noted that having to have the agreements made public in the past was a deterrent to people using the programs. She said the goal is to have loans in all the communities in Taylor County.
Emmerich said the RLF is just one of the many ways the development foundation has helped in the community this year. She gave the following examples as ways the group worked to improve the local economy: Exit Strategy Speakers — brought in speakers to talk about succession planning for small businesses.
Boots on the Ground Tours — series of three tours focusing on the downtown, the Hwy 13 corridor and industries looking at opportunities for development.
Taylor County Resource Meeting — Worked with state economic development officials to hold a meeting in Taylor County about how groups can access grants and programs at the state level.
Business Connectors -- The group of business leaders meets every other month and have speakers and tours in the community.
TDS Meetings — MADF will host a meeting with TDS Telecom about the company’s plans for expanding internet services in the Medford area.
Mark Spears — Continuing to have an expert from the Small Business Development Center at UW-Stevens Point to hold office hours in Medford to work with small businesses and startups.
As part of the annual meeting, elections were held for open board positions. The terms of board members Doug Berends, Laurie Peterson, and Dr. Mike Riggle were up in 2020. Brian Hallgren gave the nominating committee report that Peterson and Riggle had declined reelection and in their place nominated Sue Ackerman of AbbyBank and Joe Mitchell of Co-Op Transport.
Both Mitchell and Ackerman had served as ex officio members in the past year. During the board reorganization meeting, Hoffman was reelected board president with Brian Hallgren moving into the vice president position previously held by Len Hamman.