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  • Executive Director Hired. Elaine Hansen has been hired as the Chamber’s new executive director. Hansen will join the Chamber, December 10, and work with current director Sandy Forstner for three weeks before taking over the leadership role in January. Budion said 30 applications had been received by the Executive Committee. Members narrowed that list to seven candidates, interviewing three from outside the area by phone. Four local candidates were interviewed personally before officers voted to make an offer to Hansen.
  • Board Changes.
     - Resignations from Matt Cano and Doug Nuckolls were presented to the Board. Motion made, seconded, passed unanimously to accept both resignations, effective immediately.
     - Appointment. Nuckolls’ resignation left a vacancy on the Executive Committee. Officers recommended the appointment of Nan Hanegraaf to the Vice President position. Motion made, seconded, passed unanimously to appoint Hanegraaf to the Executive Committee, effective immediately.
     - 2019 Election. Three directors, Dan Marmsoler, Adam Houck and Dale Wicks were elected to their second 3-year term at the Fall Meeting. Four others were elected to their first 3-year term:  Danielle Morem, Joseph Bower, Scott Fox and Lindsey Haney. Haney had previously been appointed to the Board to fulfill the remaining year of Marie Fryer’s term. All new directors will take office in January.
  • Christmas in the City starts Friday with the Kickoff in downtown Austin. The full calendar of events was shared with the Board.
  • Business of the Year nominations are now being accepted. Awards include Small and Large Business of the Year as well as Project of the Year. Chamber Ambassadors will visit all nominees and prepare videos promoting their business. The banquet will be held Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Holiday Inn. Directors were encouraged to submit nominations before the December 14 deadline.
  • 2019 Minnesota Chamber Federation. Government Affairs recommended approval of 2019 Priorities and enrollment into the 2019 Minnesota Chamber Federation. Forstner noted that Austin has been a part of the Federation since inception. Policy areas remain in draft form, but focus on Tax Competitiveness (including conformity with Federal reform), Transportation Funding, Workforce Solutions, Preemption of Local Employment Mandates and more options in Health Care. Forstner said he and Hansen would attend a December 18 Federation meeting in Minnetonka to provide additional input on priorities. The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee will host conference calls with Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe, the first Tuesday of each month.


Bullets From the Board


Next meeting will be at 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, December 19, 2018

  • Downtown Retailers are promoting a shop local campaign: Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin. T-shirts promoting the message are available at The Style Lounge, Games People Play and the Chamber. Lindsey Haney developed the idea with the help of Jackie Bumgardner at Games People Play. Forstner added that the message parallels Buy Mower and has rejuvenated interest and pride in shopping locally. Haney said attendance at Downtown Retail meetings has improved. She also noted that Relay for Life will bring their Luminary event downtown, July 26.
  • Austin Public Schools is seeking to replace their chief financial officer. Mark Stotts resigned to take a similar position in Apply Valley. The district will inflate the dome at Wescott Field this weekend, weather permitting. All four incumbents were re-elected to the School Board. Minorities are now the majority within the Austin district, comprising 51% of the school population.
  • Miracle on 34th Street will be presented at Riverland over the next two weeks. Embacher said the college has also hired a new chief information officer, Mike Voss. The Albert Lea campus is undergoing a $10 million renovation project. That campus will focus on transportation, trades and technology careers, Embacher said. The annual Ag Summit will be held in March. Customized Training is now Comprehensive Workforce Solutions, a collaborative effort between four area colleges.
  • DCA is promoting Opportunity Zones in Austin that would exempt developers from capital gains taxes in targeted areas. CLA will host an informational meeting for all interested developers in January. A prospect has been found to occupy the former Bellisio Foods building; negotiations continue.