HERMANN — Changes are being proposed for the Hermann Regional Economic Development Corporation (HRED), a non-governmental consortium of business people aimed at promoting economic development …
HERMANN — Changes are being proposed for the Hermann Regional Economic Development Corporation (HRED), a non-governmental consortium of business people aimed at promoting economic development primarily within the Gasconade County R-1 School District.
It’s unclear what those changes might be — they were proposed by former HRED board member Raylene Hollarah last Tuesday during what might have been unprecedented closed session at the end of the organization’s regular monthly meeting. Observers who have attended HRED board meetings in the past several years could not recall a closed session being held.
Hollrah told the Gasconade County Republican that the proposed changes would affect HRED “in a good way.” She declined to elaborate on what is being proposed for the organization, which most recently has been involved in the discussion within the Hermann community of the effort to establish a Port Authority District in Montgomery County. The effort is being expanded to include the city of Hermann within the Port Authority District, which has yet to win approval from the Missouri State Transportation Commission.
The Hermann Board of Aldermen late last month agreed in principle to being part of the Port Authority District and at Monday night’s first regular session of the month was expected to approve a non-binding letter of intent to be a part of the district. City officials said a formal resolution aimed at joining the district will be withheld until more details are made available to City Hall by the Montgomery County Economic Development Council, which appears to be the organization proposing the Port Authority District.
“A Port Authority is a powerful political subdivision,” said Hermann City Administrator Patricia Heaney. “It’s a consequential decision” to join the district, she told the HRED board at last week’s session.
“Just don’t let it slip by,” said HRED member Ron Kraettli, adding, “it’s an opportunity you can’t afford to miss.”
The city administrator said City Hall is moving cautiously before committing to the project.
“We’re still doing our due diligence,” she said.
The Hermann-Area Chamber of Commerce is the leading organization within the community advocating for the county seat to be a part of the venture.
Also, the Gasconade County R-1 School District Board of Directors Thursday night heard from economic development specialist Steve Etcher, who’s working with the Montgomery County Economic Development Council on the project. Etcher outlined the Port Authority District effort and pointed out that Hermann would be a good fit because as a member of the district it would give access to another railroad (Union-Pacific) for moving product and passengers associated with the “megasite” being proposed for the Interstate-70 corridor, as well as offering air travel through the Hermann Municipal Airport, which is on the north side of the Missouri River, located within several hundred acres of land that technically is part of Gasconade County.
And then there’s the possibility of a port facility being developed on the Missouri River that would allow product to be moved by barge.
R-1 Director Mike Pratte noted that the establishment of a Port Authority — which is designed in large part to assemble enough land to accommodate a megasite, according to Etcher — and increased economic development could help stem the enrollment slide that’s been taking place in R-1 during the past decade if the employees at the megasite live within the school district.
Meanwhile, in other matters discussed during the HRED board session, Chamber Executive Director Melissa Lensing noted that Wurstfest organizers remain hopeful of having the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile return this year. Wurstfest will be held March 25 and 26.
“We feel like we’ll still get the Wienermobile this time around,” she said, although an announcement of a visit won’t be made until much closer to the event dates. “That was a big hoot last year and we look forward to having them back again,” Lensing said.
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