Economic Development Organizations in our Communities

In this article, I want to highlight two organizations that are central to promoting economic development in our local communities and region.

The Cass County Economic Development Corporation (Cass Co EDC) supports businesses throughout Cass County, and I’m proud to serve on its Board of Directors. The mission of Cass Co EDC is to attract and retain businesses in Cass County in order to create jobs and improve the economic health of the county’s residents. Cass Co EDC provides technical assistance to new and existing businesses and in most cases at no cost to the business. The Cass Co EDC is a non-profit corporation and not a government agency. Its funding comes from its members, Cass County, and through grants and other programs, including the SBA.

The Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC) is a similar organization serving the greater Brainerd Lakes area. Its mission is to foster the creation of new jobs, attract new businesses to the region, and assist area businesses in their growth and development. BLAEDC offers businesses a wide variety of services including technical assistance, site evaluation, financing, and programs to attract businesses and individuals to area communities. Since 1985, BLAEDC has been a key player in the economic success of our lakes region.
This year Cass Co EDC and BLAEDC played an even more critical role in our local economies when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Cass Co EDC converted a $70,000 revolving loan fund to a disaster loan fund with the support of the US Dept of Agriculture, and the organization quickly awarded $5000 emergency loans to Cass County businesses most affected by the shutdown. BLAEDC partnered with Crow Wing County to provide area businesses with emergency loans up to $10,000 to help cover payroll, rent, and other operating expenses.

The Cass County EDC staff fielded hundreds of phone calls, emails, and social media questions during the shutdown, providing over 350 hours of disaster technical assistance, and BLAEDC offered and continues to offer resources and technical assistance to area businesses on the CARES Act, and other loan programs and grants available to them.

With their quick action, these organizations were able to help businesses survive and withstand the financial hardship brought upon by COVID-19. The staff at both organizations worked tirelessly to support our area business owners and community members during these unprecedented times. I’m convinced that their efforts resulted in more businesses staying in business this challenging year, and for that, we should all be grateful.

If you own a business in the area or if you plan to start a business, I encourage you to reach out to the organization serving your county. They are a tremendous resource.
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