Mary Kennedy is the economic development director for both the city of Blue Earth and Faribault County.
She is an employee of the company Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA), of Chatfield, which recently contracted with both the city of Blue Earth and the county to provide professional assistance for economic development.
This is her first position with CEDA, but, this is not Kennedy's first time in Blue Earth or Faribault County.
"I grew up in Fairmont," she says. "And I graduated from Fairmont High School. My family all lives in Fairmont, Mankato or Buffalo Center (Iowa)."
Her parents are Mark and Julie Paskey and she is the youngest of six children. In fact, she has six nieces and nephews and she is closer to their ages than to her siblings.
After she graduated from Fairmont High (where speech was her favorite class and being in musicals and plays was her extracurricular activity), Kennedy went off to college at St. Cloud State. She was majoring in Planning and Community Development.
After two years, however, she transferred to Minnesota State University, Mankato, and was in their Urban and Regional Studies program.
She graduated this past December. But, Kennedy says she feels she has had a lot of experience in the field, as well."From May of last year until just recently, actually Friday, Jan. 19, I have been at an internship with the city of Jordan," Kennedy says. "I was an intern in their city planning department."
CEDA came calling a few months ago, when they had a contract with the city of Jackson. But now, coming to Blue Earth is a much better deal she says.
"I am really excited to be so close to my hometown," she says. "I am lucky to land this position here, as CEDA has a lot of communities all over that they serve. So to get here is great."
And while she is very familiar with Blue Earth and Faribault County, she still plans to spend much of her time getting to know the community and especially the businesses and learn how she can be of help.
"My biggest goal right now is to meet and get acquainted with as many people and business owners as I can," Kennedy explains. "I want to build a relationship with them, develop open lines of communication, build their trust in me. I want to learn what the needs are, and let the city and county know I am here to help."
The CEDA contract with the city is for three days a week, while the one with the county is for two days a week. For now, Kennedy's office will be at the Blue Earth City Hall, but it is expected to move to the Ag Center at some time in the near future.
There is one thing Kennedy cannot wait to get involved with.
"I am really, really, excited about the Three Sisters buildings," she says. "I think there can be some great things done with those buildings. And there could be something happening soon since people have an interest in them."
Kennedy says she has already toured the buildings and adds they are a great opportunity for someone in the community.
"I am really looking forward to helping in any way I can to see them back to being used," she says. "They are in such a great location."
When she was not busy completing her college degree, getting a new job, and helping with economic development, Kennedy says she likes to play with her puppy, play her guitar, and of course, spend time with her family and her boyfriend, David Mertens, of Wells.
"When I was a Cardinal in high school in Fairmont, I never thought I would end up in Buccaneer territory," she laughs. "But I couldn't be happier to be here. Blue Earth is a great city and a wonderful community, and it, and the county as a whole, has a lot to offer."
Kennedy has just started in her new job, but she is excited to get going and do as much as she can.
"It will be interesting to see what happens here, and I have a feeling great things are going to happen," she says. "I am just lucky to be here, help where I can, and be a part of it."