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JDA discusses Johnson Clinic building negotiations

By Staff | Oct 4, 2019

Contract negotiations for Heart of America’s Johnson Clinic building and positive economic news were prominent topics for discussion at the Rugby Job Development Authority’s September regular meeting last Thursday.

The meeting went into executive session for a short period of time for discussion of the Heart of America Johnson Clinic building.

The JDA’s agenda stated the session pertained to the “HAMC lease.”

Attorney Galen Mack and Dustin Hager of HAMC attended the session with the JDA board.

After the closed session ended, Mack told the Tribune the negotiations focused on HAMC’s Johnson Clinic building. The JDA currently owns the building.

“What we think was the intent of both parties we have the hospital board and the JDA board but we believe the intent of the parties was that the hospital would acquire that building, and it would not be owned by the JDA forever and ever.”

“So,” Mack added, “we’re looking at possibly finding a way to transfer that sell that from the JDA to the hospital, if the hospital’s interested and the JDA’s interested in doing that in such a fashion that all loans are paid, and the JDA doesn’t go backwards financially. That’s the gist of what was discussed.”

The JDA board voted to hire Mack for legal services needed for the negotiation.

Good news in the JDA executive director’s report to the board played a central role in the meeting’s regular session.

“We’ve had lots of inquiries for new business and we’ve been working closely with local entrepreneurs that are getting things going and off the ground, and a couple are downtown, so that’s exciting,” JDA Executive Director Liz Heisey told the board.

“We went to the rural lender’s show, and we got some good news from the Bank of North Dakota and the Small Business Administration about one of our projects. They’ve been coming together. So, it’s been pretty active,” Heisey added.

“We have lots of good news in economic development,” Heisey noted. “Rugby Manufacturing, super exciting they have a 45,000 square foot expansion, and about 3.7 million in automation equipment.”

Heisey continued, “That’ll be great for Rugby. And then, we have the announcement of Home of Economy. We got unbelievable responses on our facebook page. That was great. So that was a big boost for morale in Rugby. Everybody’s really excited.”

Heisey and Rugby Mayor Sue Stienke reported visiting with Kevin Leier’s community building class at Rugby High School.

“I talked about our role in our community,” Heisey said. “I talked about our Rugby livability survey that we just finished up, and we’re analyzing the data, so that’s really exciting. They did a survey of their own, and they had about 200 participants on theirs, and we had about 300 on ours. There are a little bit different demographics on theirs and ours, so it will be interesting to compare.”

The survey Heisey mentioned collected data to measure livability, or quality of life in Rugby.

Budgeting for an advertising and promoting livability in Rugby was also discussed at the meeting.

Members reviewed a letter from the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau denying a 1 percent grant application for the 2019 Community Job Fair to promote the theme. The board discussed other ways to fund promotion efforts.

In other business, the JDA reviewed sales tax analyses comparing totals from 2018 and 2019.

Heisey explained the charts and figures to board member Rob St. Michel. “Our share last year at this time was 24 thousand, and it’s nineteen thousand. For the year, we’re down 2.97 percent, but for the month last year, we’re down 17 percent.”

Steinke summed up the report for St. Michel as well: “We’re down less than three percent from where we were a year ago.”

The JDA also discussed modifying its student loan assistance program to help professionals with incomes higher than the program’s present limits. JDA Board President Blair Bratvet suggested tabling the issue and revisiting it in the future.

Future plans for board members include attending the Economic Development North Dakota conference Oct. 21-23 in Dickinson and the Main Street North Dakota Summit in Bismarck Oct. 29-31.

The next regular monthly meeting for the JDA is set for October 24 in the JDA office at noon.

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