WALKER -- Cass County Economic Development Director Pat Rafferty reported Tuesday to the county board on new, expanded directions the Cass County Economic Development Corp. is taking since he accepted directorship.
Rafferty said he has focused efforts on regenerating previously lost funding for the program through private businesses, cities and private memberships.
The county tentatively has pledged $36,000, about half the former county contribution cancelled entirely last year, toward economic development.
So far the cities of Cass Lake, Chickamaw Beach and Lake Shore have pledged contributions, he said. Crow Wing Power also has pledged toward Cass EDC, Rafferty said.
He has scheduled appearances before other city councils and has met three times with Leech Lake Reservation officials, who also indicated interest in supporting the EDC, Rafferty added.
Needs in Cass County that Rafferty has identified are business financial resources and ways to apply for those for business development and expansion, a shortage of employable people, affordable housing and ways for high school graduates to start businesses here to remain in the county after graduation.
Rafferty said he has met with one heating and air conditioning businessman who hopes to relocate from the Twin Cities area to central Cass County. He is trying to connect that person with people who can help finance and establish him.
City of Boy River officials also are pursuing, with Rafferty's help, a plan to connect recreational canoeing and camping in that city.
Rafferty has been appointed to the board for TDS Telecom and Whispering Pines Good Samaritan Center since he moved to the county.
He will send his first EDC newsletter to current and past EDC members within the next month to update them on the non-profit corporation's expanded service efforts.
He plans to contract for computer services to continue resort and tourism Internet promotion begun by the previous director.
Tuesday, the county board referred to Rafferty a proposal Bill Riggles of Cass Lake made for his concept for job creation and economic development in an international market for people who have ideas and inventions, but no current way to develop and market them.
"One of our greatest losses," Riggles told the board, "is individual ingenuity." Government programs are not creating jobs. "What we need is an entrepreneurial culture," he added.
"Sadly, many promising home grown inventions die long before our communities really have a chance to benefit from them," Riggles said in an informational sheet he summarized for the county board to explain his proposal.
Rafferty said he will work with Riggles to help him develop his ideas further.
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