First Strategic Planning Session of the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC)
On a cold, wintry afternoon, early 1985–soon after the VHEDC was incorporated (November 1984)–the VHEDC Board organized a strategic planning session and recommended the following (in order of importance) for the City of Vadnais Heights:
Plan for the creation of an upgraded business area of the approximately 140 acres of undeveloped/underdeveloped land that centered around the intersection of County Road E and I-35E. Over time, “City Center” was incorporated, quadrant-by-quadrant.
It was necessary to have a place of lodging nearby for business travelers. Representatives of the VHEDC met with hotel developers, visited several hotels in the area, and paid for a hotel market study to assess what was needed and what the community could support. The VHEDC then purchased an option on three acres of the Bibeau property…where the Holiday Inn Express & Suites stands today.
In 1985, Tom Thumb Grocery (located at County Road E and Hoffman Road East) and Garceau’s “Little Store”(on Centerville Road, near intersection of Edgerton Road) were the City’s only grocers. That year, VHEDC began making inquiries with larger chains. Eventually, when Vadnais Square was being developed, Festival Foods became a major anchor in 1999.
Open for Business
“Open for Business” signage was proudly erected along I-35E by the VHEDC after gaining Star City Status for Vadnais Heights. It was a two-fold advertising message to the“ then”50,000 daily interstate travelers…(1) The City of Vadnais Heights offered land ready for development with zonings and utilities in place; and, (2) The City had a cooperative city government and nonprofit development corporation ready to assist businesses that wanted to locate to Vadnais Heights.
One “Star City”program requirement was that communities prepare a video presentation to showcase their accomplishments. The VHEDC slide-show presentation–a new business recruitment tool–highlighted the City’s economic development and included testimonies from many local business leaders.
The VHEDC is comprised of eight standing committees and supported by a membership of nearly 100 businesses, residents, and community leaders. The standing committees are membership, real estate, finance, marketing/public relations, planning/program, business retention, revolving loan program, and website. An intensive business survey and retention program is initiated.
Twenty years earlier, the VHEDC was organized with a strategy/mission of “orderly growth” for not only the City of Vadnais but also for a larger community that comprised School Districts 621 and 624 (the cities of Gem Lake, North Oaks, Shoreview, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake, and White Bear Township).
In 2004, the City’s solid commercial tax base was supported by Reell Precision Manufacturing, Vadnais Technologies, IC System Inc., Dynamic Air, GML, H.B. Fuller, SEH and Festival Foods. The City Center developments at the intersection of I-35E and County Road E included national retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, Community National Bank, Sidney’s Restaurant (now, Mad Jack’s), Jimmy’s Restaurant and Conference Center, and the Holiday Inn Express. New office complexes, such as the City Center Office Park (19,000 square feet), Willow Lake Offices (42,000 square feet), and Overton Office Park (14,000 square feet) were currently under construction. The community was nearly at full development, and the VHEDC’s emphasis became one of redevelopment. Hank Tessier, then VHEDC executive vice president, said, “Our organization is ready for future challenges, and we invite those interested in supporting the business community to join us.”
Now, more than 10 years later…
The VHEDC is not content to rest on past milestones…It remains firmly focused on present challenges and continues to plan for future accomplishments.