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Chamber mini-summit examines how to make local businesses grow

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Recent slumps in the economy does not mean that businesses aren't trying to grow.

There just needs to be good ideas and proper planning in place to make growth easier.

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That's what the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce tried to accomplish by holding a mini economic summit on Thursday morning.

And Jeff Boehm, owner of 118 acres on the northeast corner of highways 6 and 59, said that he has a great spot for a business park.

"It's ready to build on," Boehm said

The parcel includes three distinct areas that can be built on -- large areas on the north and south sides, plus an island. A connection from Legion Road to the north portion could be a part of the final plan.

About 14 acres of the project are wetlands that will be preserved. In the middle of the wetlands, a small island could be home to several buildings.

One idea Boehm had for the island was a retirement center with several villas as part of the complex.

Besides the obvious economic benefits, Boehm added that his goal is to preserve green space. He said that's why he's laying out the plans now so the public won't be surprised at what he is envisioning for the southwest side of the city.

Becker County Housing and Economic Development Coordinator Guy Fischer informed the audience about several projects the county is working on.

One of the larger ones was a plan for a land trust near Frazee.

"It will be a buffer for development," Fischer said.

The project has about seven miles of shoreline in it and has about 2,000 acres of forest preserve.

Other projects the county is working on include the West River Townhomes in Detroit Lakes to provide housing for the homeless.

Twelve units are planned for the $1.8 million complex.

Fischer said that the county is trying to go green in its approach to construction. Geothermal climate control would provide heat and cooling, using pipes dug into the earth to achieve room temperature conditions without the need to use other energy sources to do the same thing.

An $8,000 to $12,000 cost per year in energy cost savings will be expected, according to Fischer.

Speaking on Detroit Lakes specific issues, City Administrator Bob Louiseau said that plans for a convention center are continuing.

He said that the center would have 10,000 square feet available for events, with addition space for support functions.

"We need ongoing public support," Louiseau said.

Louiseau also gave an update on Highway 10 construction. Crews are back in force grading the new stretch that eliminates the S-curve in preparation for paving.

"I expect the road to be finished and moved onto the new alignment by the end of June," Louiseau said.

He did add, though, that construction on the frontage road will disrupt local business. He said that the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be going around to inform businesses of what to expect in the next few weeks.

Final construction won't be finished for several months.

"It will take until late this year or early next to complete the work," Louiseau said.

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