By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN After eight years away from Wright County, rural Delano native Luke Bauman decided it was time to get back to his roots.
“I wanted to be near family and friends to just be home again,” said Bauman, whose family goes back five generations in the Delano area.
So, when the opportunity surfaced to serve as the executive director for the Wright County Economic Development Partnership (WCEDP), Bauman jumped on board.
“I’m looking forward to developing relationships with the cities, businesses, and members of the partnership, and I’m excited about working with Wright County government,” he said.
Bauman heard about the position opening from his longtime friend, Tom Screeden, who serves as senior vice president at Crow River Bank in Delano.
“We had gone to lunch three or four months ago, and Luke had mentioned that he wanted to move back home to Delano and get more involved in the area,” Screeden said. “I told him I’d keep my eye out for job opportunities.”
Then, WCEDP executive director Noel LaBine announced that he was leaving his position.
“I told Luke that I thought this was something he’d be good at,” said Screeden, who has been the WCEDP treasurer for the past year and a half.
Screeden has been friends with Bauman since the 1990s.
“We were both in Delano Area Chamber of Commerce,” Screeden said. “At one time, he was president and I was vice president.”
Throughout the years, Bauman has developed a wide array of skills that made him an ideal candidate for the position.
“He’s got an extensive sales background and networking ability,” Screeden said.
Bauman has 13 years of experience in insurance and investments, and also has a strong connection to business and non-profit agencies.
“I understand the needs and the passions of business owners,” said Bauman, explaining that he is also a former business owner.
At WCEDP, Bauman’s primary focus is working with cities and businesses to spur job growth/retention in Wright County.
“In my capacity as director, I’m going to make sure day-to-day operations are running smoothly,” he said. “I’m also responsible for public relations operations and managing the financial matters of the partnership.”
“A big part of it is being able to talk to people, network, and make Wright County attractive for businesses that want to move to the area,” Screeden added.
The WCEDP is a non-profit, public/private development corporation formed in 1993 to address the need for organized economic development at the county level.
The partnership offers financial assistance, workforce development, site location, business counseling, and more. It’s directly funded by its members, which include the county, cities, townships, utilities, businesses, telecommunications companies, lenders, and educational institutions.
“Any business can be a member, even ones that aren’t in Wright County,” Screeden said. Many firms that have done work in Wright County have found that being part of the WCEDP is a way to stay connected to the area.
“It helps people stay on top of what’s going on in Wright County as far as economic development,” Screeden said.
The partnership offers many financial resources, including a Wright County enterprise revolving loan fund, which provides financing to new and expanding industrial businesses.
The enterprise fund dollars can be used in conjunction with other loan programs listed on the WCEDP website, www.wrightpartnership.org.
To reach Bauman, call (763) 477-3086 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.