The Morris City Council (before social distancing). (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

The Morris City Council narrowly passed a resolution authorizing the countywide use of Minnesota Investment Funds at their Tuesday meeting. The funds are there to provide loans to businesses. Council Member Kevin Wohlers objected to using any of the funds outside the Morris city limits.

“We know that businesses up and down our main street are struggling and my concern is, I just don’t want to short-change our businesses on main street,” said Wohlers. “I certainly don’t want to put us in a position where that money gets spent on whatever business adventure outside of the city limits and we have a business locally on our main street that comes to (Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission Director) Cheryl Kuhn looking for money and then we don’t have any if we’ve exhausted that money and lent it somewhere else.”

But City Manager Blaine Hill explained that the $400,000 in the account is not the city’s money. They were federal funds designated for use as an economic development tool and now administered by the Stevens County Economic Improvement Commission. The Council’s discussion focused on $50,000 of newer money that has been added to the fund. Council Member Jeff Miller said it would be much better for the city if any business in Stevens County used the largely under-utilized funds.

“To be sitting on $50,000 in my pocket, or if I can help somebody that’s in need because of the things we’re going through now with the corona — I think it makes sense to use it countywide,” said Miller. “The dollars are going to get reinvested and spun back into Morris. I think with the number of businesses we have up and down our main street, that I think the ones that are going to need it will be there to get some help if they need it. So, I don’t see a problem with going ahead and doing it.”

The resolution passed by a 3-2 vote, with Council Member Kim Gullickson joining Wohlers in opposition.

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