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Demolition loans, ombudsman office (new law)

Published (5/25/2012)
By Nick Busse
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Local governments will be able to apply for state loans to demolish old buildings and make way for redevelopment.

The provision is among a handful of economic development programs included in a new law. Rep. Bob Gunther (R-Fairmont) and Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) are the sponsors. Unless otherwise noted, all provisions take effect Aug. 1, 2012.

The law will add demolition loans to the possible uses of a redevelopment account operated by the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The loans, which can be up to $1 million in principal, can be used to tear down properties that pose a public safety threat and that meet certain other criteria specified in the law. They will have a maximum term of 15 years and a maximum interest rate of 2 percent. Various other terms and conditions apply.

The law also creates an ombudsman position within DEED to help small businesses navigate government regulations. The “small business advocate office” will utilize existing resources and will not require any new employees or other expenditures. The office is meant to provide “one-stop access” for businesses that require “information or assistance in obtaining or renewing licenses, meeting state regulatory requirements, or resolving disputes with state agencies.”

Another provision in the law addresses an issue specific to Albert Lea, where the city has excess sewer capacity and seeks to entice new industrial developments. It allows the city to establish a “sewer charge rebate program” to incentivize new or expanded businesses. This provision is effective upon local compliance.

HF1721*/ SF1441/CH288

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