Polk County Economic Development Corporation History
The Polk County Board formed a diverse committee of business and municipal leaders to evaluate the merits of putting together an economic development organization for the county. The initial committee was made up of the following individuals: Craig Danielson, The RiverBank- Osceola; Don Getschel, Polk County board chair; Al Granum, Balsam Lake business owner; Dan Lien, Bremer Bank; Frank Pascarella, Polk County administrator; Mark Peacock, Paster; Trudy Popenhagen, Xcel Energy; Dan Reeves, The RiverBank St Croix Falls; Jay Tappen, WCWRPC, Gail Tessman, Polk County board member; Dave Wondra, CPA.
After months of research and meetings, the conclusion was that “the County would be well-served by the consistency and continuity for economic development functions in the County that serves all communities”. With 38% of workers traveling outside of Polk County to work; lower than average annual wages; fewer college graduates; per capita income 19% lower than the Wisconsin average; an aging population; and no central organization to assist with retention or recruitment. The minutes reflect the mood of the discussion as: “The consequences of inaction cannot be overstated.”
The benefits to putting in place an economic development organization included:
- Technical expertise
- Evident full partnership among members
- Clearly defined, single point of contact
- Better focus
- Easier measurability, setting goals, monitoring
- Consistency, continuity, potential growth
- Structure would lead to the betterment of the entire county
- Director would have a single job focus
In order to represent the population, business and commerce, the proposed Economic Development Corporation was conceived as a tri-lateral structure, with 1/3 of its funding from Polk County, 1/3 from municipalities, and 1/3 from business memberships.
The Polk County board approved the formation of Polk County Economic Development Corporation, and the first initial Board of Directors meeting was held on September 13, 2004. The board members included: Charles Jensen, Bruce Noll, Mark Peacock, Trudy Popenhagen, Dan Reeves, Gail Tessman, and Louise Ann White.