Leaders pitch ideas for growth

FAIRMONT – Fairmont business leaders spent Tuesday afternoon examining the six major components of economic development and brainstorming about how the city can improve in each area.

Hosted by Fairmont Economic Development Authority, the gathering is a biennial event, taking place every other year since 1996. This year the city hired Wes Pruett to facilitate the session.

“It’s said the world is run by those who show up, and you showed up today, so you get to determine how the world is run,” said Pruett, proprietor of HR Advisors.

Participants looked at the following economic development categories:

o Labor force development

o Financing

o Housing

o Site development

o Retention and expansion

o Recruitment

Using the SWOT analysis method, they examined Fairmont’s economic development Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in each of these categories.

Later, they brainstormed ideas that came from the analysis, and at the end of the session, they voted on the ideas they would most like to see implemented in Fairmont.

“The idea is we are creating a positive vision for Fairmont and creating action plans that will get us there, which means we don’t whine, moan and groan, but we recognize issues and come up with positive solutions,” Pruett said.

The most popular idea to come out of the planning session is in direct relation to FEDA. Receiving the most votes was the redesign of the Economic Development Authority.

Tom Lytle, a member of FEDA and market president of Bank Midwest, said he would like to see the group get involved more with negotiations and networking to help prospective and existing businesses. Others wanted to see the authority’s goals redefined and longer-range planning implemented.

Better marketing of Fairmont was another priority the group chose, specifically by improving signage to advertise the city’s amenities and services to people passing through the area.

Other ideas that were embraced included expanding Fairmont’s trail system and connect existing trails, as well as pursuing a technical college.

“I hope the good ideas don’t stop here,” said Mike Humpal, Fairmont’s economic development director and city administrator, who encouraged people to contact him if they think of a good idea for improving the city.

Citizens can convey their suggestions to City Hall or contact the following FEDA board members: Bob Bartingale, Andy Noll, Gene Tonne, Tom Lytle, Joe Kallemeyn, Wes Clerc and Bryan Roggow.

The group will examine the recommendations that came out of the planning session and use them to develop short- and long-term goals.