The last time that U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar visited Madelia, it was in the wake of the Main Street fire; the community was still reeling and the fire site was still a disaster area. Last Saturday, in a follow-up visit, Klobuchar was pleased to see the amazing progress that has taken place over the past year.

Gathering at the Madelia Area Chamber of Commerce with Senator Klobuchar to discuss Madelia’s recovery process were Director of Region Nine Development Commission Nicole Griensewic-Mickelson, Communication Specialist with Region Nine Ashley Aukes, President and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) Tim Penny, Minnesota District 23 Senator Julie Rosen, Outreach Director for Senator Klobuchar Chuck Ackerman, Madelia Mayor Mike Grote, Madelia’s County Commissioner and a Region Nine Director Ray Gustafson, Madelia Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karla Angus and Madelia City Administrator Jane Piepgras.

“The rebuilding is progressing and we are slowly but surely getting our Main Street put back together,” said Piepgras. “That is a good feeling.” She explained that, within the last month, Culligan and American Family Insurance both moved into their new Main Street buildings. On the other hand, Hope & Faith Floral & Gifts and La Plaza F!esta continue to operate in temporary locations. Their new buildings are still under construction, and are progressing with hopes of opening sometime late this spring, but dates of completion are not definite.

“We are lucky that we are a strong community and everyone knows everyone; many people have been here for generations. We have a very strong industrial base and a medical center that is second to none. We also have an excellent school district; those things have been the backbone of the community and helped hold this community together through this,” Gustafson said. “It has been an uphill battle, but when you look at where we were just a year ago with smoldering ashes and what we have today, I think we have really come a long way in a short amount of time.”

Angus said that they really needed to thank and commend the building owners and businesses for their commitment and being dedicated to coming back, because they did not have to. If they had chosen not to rebuild, it would have really upset the balance in the community. “We have such potential to grow but, without them rebuilding, that would not be as possible,” Angus said.

Griensewic-Mickelson explained the three-tiered economic resiliency plan that is now in progress thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) and matched with Minnesota Department of Economic and Employment Development (DEED) dollars. Aukes is helping with the marketing portion of the plan in cooperation with the city. She explained that they will be looking at what is currently in place and what might be missing – including logos, tag lines and what site selectors might be seeing when they want to come to Madelia. All that information will be considered as far as what is working well and what improvements could be made when creating a marketing campaign for Madelia.