BLAINE, Minn. – (Nov. 16, 2017) – Our weekly look at city jobs and city staff brings us to Blaine this week. The work done by those in Economic Development isn’t always obvious to the city resident but it is constantly happening. Today we meet Erik Thorvig, Blaine’s economic development coordinator.
“There are a lot of aspects to economic development and one of the big things is increasing tax base and bringing jobs to the city of Blaine, so that’s one of the main things I do is try to go out and work on business retention and expansion and that includes going out and talking to our existing businesses to understand what their needs are in the community and if there’s an opportunity to help them expand and then we also go out and recruit businesses from other cities that may be wanting to relocate to the city of Blaine,” Thorvig explained.
In his time with the city, he’s worked with a couple large businesses to open operations in Blaine.
“Two notable businesses is Streamworks they are located just off 35W in the Lexington preserve business park, this is a company that was in Arden Hills, an example where we got wind they were looking to expand, so we went and met with them, learned more about their company and made a proposal to them and they chose Blaine over some other community so that was a good win for us, they built a 88 thousand square foot building and brought over 100 new jobs to the city of Blaine so again, that’s generating new tax breaks and bringing jobs to are community,” Thorvig said.
Invictus Brewing is also coming to Blaine, contributing to Minnesota’s growing craft beer scene.
“They’re building a new brewery off of 105th and Radisson Rd. and that’s a unique type of opportunity for the city of Blaine and something I hope our residents will enjoy, but that was a situation where it was property that the city of Blaine owned and we worked with them in getting the property sold and worked through the development process with them,” he said.
He also works with real estate developers, manages the city’s real estate deals, and represents Blaine on a variety of boards and commissions.
“One of the things I enjoy doing is a lot of research on both industrial and commercial trends and we have the opportunity to have a lot of data at our finger tips, we take a look at what’s coming up on the horizon, we all understand where the retail market is going so we’ve got to stay on top of that,” he said.
” Unfortunately some of that is out of the city’s control a lot of it’s driven by the private market but when we have instances where there’s buildings that do become vacant as a result of retail trends, we could reach out to some of the people we know that are looking to locate to Blaine that maybe will be able to repurpose those buildings for something else other than retail.”
As some big box stores are shutting their doors, Thorvig works hard to try to keep building from sitting vacant for too long.
“I like bettering community, it’s always fun to do a redevelopment project where you may have a blighted property that people have been complaining about for years and you can repurpose it into something the community appreciates,” he said.
He spent ten years with the city of Anoka, working in planning and economic development, and has been with Blaine since 2015. But, he says, his path to his current job started long before that.
“I started with a geography degree at the University of Minnesota, my dad actually was a city planner for the city of Minneapolis so some people ask how I got involved and I think that was one of the upbringings, having a father that would go to city council meetings and you’d hear about that when he got home,” Thorvig said.
In his time with Blaine, he has heard one question from residents over and over again.
“When are we getting a new grocery store? That’s one thing I’ve been working on for two years now, we have some options now, but we’ve been working with varying grocers throughout the twin cities metro area, most notably Hy-Vee, and I think it’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when with Hy-Vee so we continue to work on that and we hope to bring that to our residents in near future,” Thorvig promised.
As he keeps working with Hy-Vee and plenty of other businesses, there is one thing that he would like residents to know about his job.
“That things don’t just happen overnight, things sometimes takes quite a while,” he said. “With redevelopment, that can take five, ten, fifteen years but we’re constantly working with developers and they have a process that they have to follow and we have a process that we have to follow but we always want to make sure that we’re progressing and sometimes it doesn’t happen overnight but in the end, the fruits of our labor are very gratifying.”