EDA deadlocks again on donating $2,500 to foundation

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
Four of Elk River’s seven Economic Development Authority members support giving $2,500 to the Initiative Foundation.
But they’ve never all been present when a vote has been taken. As a result, the EDA has twice deadlocked 3-3 on a motion to make the donation. A tie vote means the motion fails, so the donation has yet to happen.
EDA Commissioners Jerry Gumphrey, Matt Westgaard, Pat Dwyer and Nick Zerwas support the donation. EDA President Ron Touchette and Commissioners Paul Motin and Dan Tveite oppose it.
The first 3-3 vote was on Aug. 8; the second one was on Oct. 10. Zerwas was absent for the first vote; Dwyer was absent for the second one but sent an e-mail saying he still supported giving $2,500 to the Initiative Foundation.
Before the Oct. 10 vote, Gumphrey said since it was obvious there were four votes in favor of the donation, someone opposed to it should “suck it up and vote ‘yea’ for it.”
But the no votes held firm. While no one disputed that the Initiative Foundation is a fine organization, commissioners for a variety of reasons didn’t want to give up $2,500. Tveite, for instance, said he’d rather see that $2,500 spent to preserve the Energy City program, which is facing potential budget cuts.
After the vote to donate failed 3-3, Gumphrey suggested it be brought up at the next meeting when everyone is there.
But Motin asked that the city’s attorney be consulted on the matter.
Motin wondered if there is a limit on the number of times the EDA can reconsider something “basically waiting until the right number of noses show up.”
Annie Deckert, Elk River’s director of economic development, will check into it.

About the Initiative Foundation
•The Initiative Foundation is a nonprofit located in Little Falls. It serves 14 counties and 160 cities in central Minnesota, including Sherburne County and the city of Elk River.
•Over the past 25 years, the Initiative Foundation has awarded 232 grants totalling $971,380 and 39 loans totaling $2.5 million in Sherburne County alone. The foundation also created or retained 380 jobs in Sherburne County during that time.
•In the last two years, the Elk River Economic Development Authority has received $6,500 from the Initiative Foundation for training and the branding and marketing project. The foundation has also provided grants to Energy City, the Elk River Area Arts Alliance and Sherburne County Area United Way.
•The Elk River Economic Development Authority has contributed to the Initiative Foundation in the past, but not in recent years.
•For more information, go to www.ifound.org.
(Sources: Initiative Foundation, city of Elk River)