by Cori Hilsgen
St. Joseph is rebounding from the long recession.
That’s the good news, according to St. Joseph Economic Development Authority Director Cynthia Smith-Strack, who presented the 2013 annual report to the city council at its March 6 meeting.
Smith-Strack said the EDA typically focuses on four types of core functions: organizational, business, market and infrastructure.
Last year, the EDA’s main focus was on business development with some on organizational and market but none on infrastructure development.
For new commercial construction value, which shows how much industrial development has been added to the tax base since the beginning of the EDA, nearly $42 million has been added since 2000.
Smith-Strack said it has been a goal of the EDA to diversify the tax base since 2001 and it continues to be a goal. This shows the city is rebounding nicely from the recession.
Unemployment and employment wages were compared to other cities. The EDA expects unemployment to continue to decrease. Wages in the area continue to be lower because of retail and service jobs are often filled by students at minimum wage.
In the area of housing starts, Smith-Strack said platting appears to be picking up. She said it’s been, and continues to be, a main goal of the EDA since 2005 to get utilities extended to I-94. Other goals include market outreach, revitalization of downtown areas and responding to inquiries and pursuing viable leads.
The EDA met 12 times in 2013. Meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at city hall and are open to the public.