I am honored to have become a place my community members feel they can come to with their community questions. Where can I find _________? Who has the best_________? If I don’t know the answer I usually at least know the best person to ask to get the quickest answer or direction. When I contacted Mariah Lynne from Good Steward Consulting, it was to figure out one such question. The particular answer I was looking for was, “is there someone local who creates custom printed t-shirts.” Within a few minutes, Mariah connected me to Jeff Thorstad from Bismuth Design, who connected me to someone in Alden. It was awesome. I was able to pass on the information and hopeful a beautiful customer relationship will be created. It’s a beautiful connection.
One of the byproducts of knowing who to ask is the relationship it builds. Mariah asked me if I had heard of the Freeborn Wind Farm project and she wondered what my stance on it was. To be honest, I had tried not to have a position. Who wants to deal with controversy? After all, don’t they cause heart palpitations and other horrible issues? I also figured it wasn’t literally in my backyard, so why should I care. *Facepalm*
Honestly, I was shocked that I had allowed myself to listen to rumors and become comfortable in my ignorance on the issue. The reason this mindset is dangerous is that it is where rumors are rooted and take flight. I immediately set a meeting date and time with Mariah. I wanted answers and I wanted the facts.
First, I had no idea there were so many i’s and t’s that needed to be dotted and crossed. The county, state and federal government have so many regulations about proximity to houses, roads, churches, campgrounds, and things that have to be in place for these wind turbines to even be considered. Minnesota has super high regulations. I was also impressed with the amount of research and calculations that have to be put into effect for these wind turbines to be put into place. It’s amazing.
These wind turbines will create jobs in our community. Jobs with people who will need homes, with kids who will attend our schools and spend their money at our shops, restaurants, and will bless our community. The wind turbines will bring in workers who will stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and bring in outside revenue into our community. Why does this matter? Because of the additional revenue to our community matters. This project is proposed to bring in $900,000 a year. Another exciting fact is that Freeborn County can support the number of jobs it will create. We live in a part of the country where it would be tough for us to come up with a massive workforce for a big manufacturing company.
I believe that Freeborn County would do well to roll out the red carpet for this company. It would do wonders to put our best foot forward for future businesses to consider our area. If we prove difficult and create hoops for these companies to jump through. Site selectors will talk amongst themselves. It will not matter what kind of packages our local Economic Development Agency can put together. We the community members must be the ones tooting our horn of awesomeness.
I am excited about the future of Albert Lea and for Freeborn County. We have so many young people who have come back with their families and have started their own business. Their kids are in our schools, they buy homes, invest in rental properties and invite the world to come experience the place they call home. These young families are also equipped with the ability to positively share our community on social media. This is tourism advertising at its best because, for the most part, it’s free! These businesses will build steam and continue to grow more and more over time. These young families see Wind Farms, Solar Panel fields, large hog operations, and other unique businesses as a unique revenue opportunity. It brings in outside money into our community that will bring revolving income into our towns.
We need to celebrate those who have helped to turn the economic future of our town. We need to celebrate when a business such as the Freeborn Wind Farms come knocking on our door. If we turn them away, you can bet another community is waiting to take the opportunity that could be ours. Do you know what will happen? Other site developers will notice the warm, open arm welcome the business received in the next town over. They, too, will go work where people are more willing to bring them in. Companies do not want to work with communities that make them jump through hoops.
There are viable concerns with the Wind Farm, but there are also solutions. Solutions the company, county, state, and federal government take seriously. Contact Mariah and check out the facts. Just not wanting them to come is not a good reason to keep our community from growing. You can visit the Freeborn Wind Farm website for more information or check out my other blog post.
If you have questions or concerns, there will be a hearing February 20th from 2:30pm – 9pm at the Albert Lea Armory. Come with your questions, concerns and an open mind for economic successes for Freeborn County. I would also invite you to call Dan Litchfield or Mariah Forman and sit down with them to hear the facts. They both value your questions, comments, and concerns.