Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 14, 2003

Lester Prairie to get $932,700 development grant

By Ryan Gueningsman

The City of Lester Prairie has unofficially been notified that it has been selected as one of 35 cities across Minnesota to receive a grant from the Minnesota Trade and Economic Development (MTED) for $932,700.

"It's a small cities development grant," said State Representative Tony Kielkucki. "That means that 20 homes owned and occupied by low/moderate income families, six affordable rental units, and 10 commercial buildings are all eligible to receive funds to upgrade their facilities."

"We're very excited to have been selected," said Lester Prairie Mayor Eric Angvall. "We were told right away that this is a highly competitive grant process, and it's rare for a city to receive it on its first time applying.

"We must have done something really right."

The funds from the grant cannot be used on new buildings, Angvall noted. They must be used on buildings that already exist.

Some examples of things that could be done include electrical upgrades, exterior painting, as well as code improvements.

"This grant is almost always used for enhancing business districts, and housing," said MTED spokesman John Fisher. "Lester Prairie's grant identifies the downtown area, the area immediately surrounding the downtown, and several apartments located above downtown businesses."

The selection process is done based on four broad criteria, Fisher said. The physical/financial needs, the cost effectiveness, demographics, and tax capacity are all things that are looked at.

The funding for the grant comes from federal HUD (Housing, Urban Development) dollars, and is given to each state to distribute accordingly.

"With all the recent state budget problems, this is a pretty positive thing," Angvall said. "Compliments to the council for their work on this."

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