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New economic development coordinator has local roots

Who says you can't go home again?

Such is definitely not the case for Guy Fischer, who became Becker County's new housing and economic development coordinator at the beginning of January.

Fischer, a 1979 graduate of Detroit Lakes High School, says that moving back to the community has been "an adjustment," but only because of the timing.

"Moving up here in the middle of winter was an adjustment," he said. "But it is milder than I remember."

Fischer has spent the past 10 years working for the City of Minneapolis on various environmental projects, from coordinating its carbon dioxide reduction efforts to serving as a staff member of its citizens' environmental advisory committee.

"I had my fingers in a lot of different stuff," he said in a Tuesday interview.

Which isn't all that different than what he's doing for Becker County, actually.

"I'm still defining a lot of this job, by listening to my coworkers and (county) commissioners, the EDA board and (community) leaders that I've met," he said. "A lot more outreach needs to be done."

Fischer said his job would entail doing "anything and everything" that the county needs, from grant writing to coordinating various economic development initiatives.

"I'll have a better sense of things after my first (EDA) board meeting (on Thursday)," he said.

But he's definitely enjoying the change of pace from living and working in the metro area.

A single father of one, Fischer said he welcomed the opportunity to move back to his childhood home so his four-and-a-half year old son, Brady, could grow up near his grandparents and experience life in a place where "the air is clean" and the natural environment is so beautiful.

"I had a great experience growing up here," he said.

Fischer's post-high school life did take him a bit farther afield than Minnesota, however. After graduation, he immediately entered the U.S. Air Force, where he served a four-year stint as an electronic intelligence analyst in the Middle East -- an experience he described succinctly as, "interesting."

That stint led to a job with the Lockheed Missile & Space Company in Colorado, where he did similar intelligence-gathering work.

"One of my jobs involved SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) II violations testing," he said.

After a couple of years with Lockheed, Fischer found himself back in Minnesota, where he began working on a bachelor's degree in urban and environmental planning and policy at the University of Minnesota.

"I designed my own degree through the university's program for individualized learning," he said.

After graduating from the university, he took a job that eventually led to working as a consultant for several inner city Minneapolis neighborhoods on various revitalization projects.

"Anything that a neighborhood could dream up, they could request funding for," he said. "They were only limited by their imagination. Over the course of three years, I worked in eight or nine different neighborhoods."

That led to his job with the city of Minneapolis, and eventually, to his return to Detroit Lakes, where he is comfortably settling into his new office on the second floor of the Becker County Human Services Building (where the Becker County Housing and Economic Development Authority offices were relocated at the end of 2005).

"I like working here -- the people are wonderful," he said.

Fischer said he particularly likes sharing offices with the Becker County Extension Service, because nutrition education assistant Tracy Baker is located right across the hall from his office.

"There's always something good to eat," he said with a smile. "They take good care of me."

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454