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Revitalization project part of Monday's city council agenda

Items pertaining to boosting the aesthetics of downtown Worthington and further developing its workforce are included on the agenda for tonight's Worthington City Council meeting.

The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) has been awarded a grant through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the Main Street Economic Revitalization Program. Through this program, Worthington has been allocated $750,000 in grants and $600,000 in loan guarantees.

Funds may be used within the targeted areas that include the downtown business district from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue between Ninth and 12th Streets; Oxford Street from Diagonal Road to the U.S. 59/Minnesota 60 roundabout; and North Humiston Avenue from Oxford Street to Interstate 90. The grants can cover up to 30% of eligible costs and may be used for building construction, repair and renovation of real property, site preparation and professional services.

City staff, with the support of SWIF, will ask the city council to approve the retaining of Jorge Lopez as the city's representative in assisting with the community engagement process of the program. Lopez worked with the city and successfully guided applicants through the process to request CARES Act business support grants in 2020.

Additionally, council members will be asked to consider a proposed pilot program targeting workforce development in the region. The program is intended to attract and retain workforce through the support of technical education in targeted occupations based on input from employers and training capacity at Minnesota West Community and Technical College campuses. The occupations include carpentry, HVAC, mechatronics, automotive, plumbing, auto technician, agriculture diesel and electrical.

The Southwest Council of Mayors is pursuing a legislative funding request for a five-year pilot program with state funding of $600,000 per year combined with local funds of $150,000. The mayors requested a proposal from Flaherty and Hood, PA for legislative services through the 2022 legislative session. The total fee for services is $16,500 to be paid by each of the cities on a per capita basis.

Worthington's share for the services is $5,160.39. The proposed fees were not included in the 2022 budget. but funds are available in the General Government Miscellaneous section of the budget.

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