“Benton Economic Partnership Holds Kick-Off Meeting”
On July 21st the Benton Economic Partnership formally launched a new chapter in economic development for Benton County. That morning at Jack and Jim’s Event Center in Duelm, the BEP held its first formal meeting of members and selected the Board of Directors. The Board then held an organizational meeting and selected its officers.
The first BEP Board includes John Herges, Falcon National Bank and BEP Board President; Sandy Saldana, Saldana Excavating and Aggregates, Inc. and BEP Vice-President; Jonathan Brenny, Godzala Brenny Real Estate – Edina Realty and BEP Secretary Treasurer; Kevin Johnson, K. Johnson Construction, Inc., representing business members; Laura Kangas, Palmer Wireless, representing business members; Lawrence “Butch” Thell, representing Townships; Ed Popp, Benton County Commissioner District 2, representing Benton County; and, Jake Bauerly, Bauerly Dynamics, representing Founding Members.
An audience of about 70 heard a presentation from Benton County Commissioner Jake Bauerly on why the BEP was created and how it had arrived to the point becoming a reality. Commissioner Bauerly has served as Chair of the BEP Formation Committee, a group that has been working for over a year to change how economic development is done in Benton County. Commissioner Bauerly had special thanks to the workgroup that has devoted many hours over the past year to this effort. Those workgroup members include:
- John Herges, Falcon National Bank
- Sandy Saldana, Saldana Excavating and Aggregates, Inc.
- Jonathan Brenny, Godzala Brenny Real Estate – Edina Realty
- Cheryl Scapanski, Benton Teleco
- Craig Hanson, Hanson Law Office, PA
- Jane DeAustin, Central MN Builders Association
- Greg Bruestle, Langola Township
- Duane Cekalla, Rice Economic Development
- Mayor Dale Rogholt, City of Rice
- Don Hickman, The Initiative Foundation
- Diane Wojtanowicz, Prairie Farms, Rice
- Todd Schultz, City of Sauk Rapids
- Rodney Dufouw, East Central Energy
- Mark Osendorf, Xcel Energy
- Brian Laverdiere, Foley Chamber/W3 Web Design and Hosting
- Benton County Board of Commissioners
What's next for the Benton Economic Partnership? The Board will immediately begin the process to recruit and hire an Executive Director. Once a Director is in place, the BEP will complete a strategic planning process to establish its goals and a work plan. The BEP membership drive continues. The BEP Board encourages and welcomes new members who wish to join as Founding Members. Organizations can join any time as Founding Members or Contributing Members. The opportunity for Founding Member designation will end September 1st.