A second economic development specialist from Community Economic Development Associates (CEDA) has begun working in Faribault County.
For the past year, Mary Kennedy has been serving both the city of Blue Earth Economic Development Authority (EDA) and the Faribault County EDA. Kennedy has been working for the city three days per week and the county two days per week.
Annie Leibel started her new position as the EDA specialist for the county EDA, as of Monday, Dec. 17. She, too, will be working four days per week.
Both women are actually employees of CEDA, a company based in Chatfield, Minnesota. The city of Blue Earth and the county both contract with CEDA for economic development services.
Leibel not only just started working for Faribault County, she also just began her employment with CEDA.
She is a recent graduate of St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Planning and Community Development and in Political Science.
"I previously worked in economic development at the city of Fridley," Leibel explains. "That is where I interned during my senior year of college."
Leibel says that working in the area of community and economic development is something that she has wanted to do since she was a child.
She was born and raised in Little Canada, Minnesota, north of St. Paul, where she also graduated from high school. And, that is also where she got her interest in community development.
"My parents were both involved in the community," she says. "My dad is a firefighter and both my parents did a lot of non-profit volunteer work. So I attended all the fundraisers and meetings, where people were pitching ideas to help the community."
That is when Leibel thought about this being something she would like to do as her career.
"It seemed like nice work, being a part of helping people and making their dreams come true," she explains. "This has been on my radar at least since high school, probably before that."
Now she is excited to put her skills and enthusiasm to work in Faribault County.
"I have met several of the EDA members, including chairman John Herman, John Roper and Bill Groskreutz," Leibel says. "And we are discussing several projects that are pending already."
She plans on getting out to all of the communities in the county as soon as possible, and attending city council and EDA meetings. Her first county EDA meeting will be on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and she is looking forward to it.
Both Leibel and Kennedy will be sharing an office in the Ag Center in Blue Earth, but it is not in the same location as Kennedy's previous office which was the former FCDC office.
"We have changed places with Serenity Massage," Kennedy explains. "So we are just a few doors away from where we were before."
Being in the same office will be beneficial, both Kennedy and Leibel say. They can help each other, and they will try and have one of them in the office most of the time.
The two women are not strangers. They have known each other for a few years, as both attended St. Cloud State, before Kennedy left that college and went on to Minnesota State, Mankato.
It was Kennedy who suggested to Leibel she apply with CEDA and come to Faribault County.
Now Leibel has moved to Blue Earth with her boyfriend, Danny Nichols, and her dog, Buddy.
"I am an outdoors person," Leibel says. "I like to go for walks, go bike riding, anything outdoors."
But, mainly what she enjoys doing is getting involved in the community, and to help out wherever she can.
"Our door here at the Ag Center is open," Leibel says. "And we are ready to help, however we can."