Inaugural meeting of Coon Rapids Business Council

A collaborative effort of the city of Coon Rapids and the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce kicked off last week.

Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe speaks at the first meeting of the Coon Rapids Business Council Feb. 27. saved as business council 2
Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe speaks at the first meeting of the Coon Rapids Business Council Feb. 27.
saved as business council 2Photos by Peter Bodley

The Coon Rapids Business Council had the first of four quarterly meetings planned this year at the Harvest Grill Restaurant, located at the Bunker Hills Golf Course Clubhouse, Feb. 27.

The goal of the business council is “bring the right people together, to talk about the right topics and strengthen the city through mutual advocacy, education and information,” according to Lori Higgins, chamber president.

The first meeting was an opportunity for the city, the Anoka-Hennepin School District 11, Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Twin Cities Gateway tourism bureau and the chamber to provide updates to chamber members and other business leaders in the community, and for questions to be posed and answered.

Future meetings are likely to focus on specific issues of interest to the business community, Higgins said.

Higgins said she was delighted by the number of people that attended the first meeting.

Dick Haluptzok, who chairs the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, led the business council meeting. “I am excited about the concept,” he said.

He has been impressed by the innovative thinking of business owners in the community as well as city of Coon Rapids staff, Haluptzok said.

According to Haluptzok, the business council through presentations, questions and interaction will help the city, school district, college and business community “know that we all have good people trying to get things done.”

Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe thought the business council collaborative was a “great idea.”

“There are lots of things going on in the city,” Howe said.

City presentations were made by City Manager Steve Gatlin, Community Development Director Marc Nevinski, Police Chief Brad Wise and Fire Chief John Piper.

Other speakers were District 11 Superintendent Dennis Carlson, Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College President Kent Hanson, Twin Cities Gateway Executive Director Steve Markuson and Higgins.

It was during Nevinski’s presentation on economic development, business retention and growth in Coon Rapids that the topic for the next business council meeting May 29 may well have surfaced.

Nevinski talked about the Anoka County project using a federal grant to bring broadband or fiber optic access to all parts of the county, including local government and the business community.

Coon Rapids business owner Tom Klint said the project, as yet, has not provided the fiber optic access to businesses that he thought was part of the county plan, and it was something that he wanted to see happen.

According to Anoka County Commissioner Scott Schulte, who is also a Coon Rapids business owner, there have been issues with the vendor that the county hired for the broadband project, Zayo, extending it to the business community.

“Government agencies, like the county, cities, school districts and the college are connected, but no businesses are yet,” Schulte said. “It makes sense for them to do that {provide the broadband connection to businesses}.”

It has been frustrating for the business community, several of whom have been in contact with the MetroNorth chamber with their concerns about the issue, Higgins said.

“Zayo has not been very responsive,” she said.

According to Higgins, this would likely be the topic on which the next business council meeting would focus.

This broadband connection is important to the business community and it should be pursued by pressuring Zayo to make it available, Howe said.

Following the May 29 meeting, the Coon Rapids Business Council is also scheduled to meet Aug. 28 and Nov. 20 this year.

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