As part of their on-going business visit program, members of the NDDC Board of Directors dropped in on the Community Resource Bank. President Don Kuehnast graciously gave generously of his time.
The bank has a long history in Northfield, going back to 1878. Although Community has grown to include offices in Cannon Falls and Roseville, the base of operations remains in Northfield. The bank has 75 employees and, as Don pointed out, uses a number of local vendors.
Northfield’s strengths, according to Don, are good people, with good work habits, and who have also proved to be good customers over the years. The bank has long focused on serving the needs of local businesses and local property owners.
As for areas of improvement for Northfield, Don cited the number of road blocks that businesses can face in town. He advocates for more streamlined processes and encourages the City to become more proactive in meeting the needs of the business community.
Don also wishes that the City would include financial feasibility in their analysis of potential projects; he doesn’t think that there is adequate consideration of the cost burdens that are sometimes placed on businesses by City requirements. Finally, Don thinks more emphasis should be placed on supporting Northfield’s existing businesses.
Fostering an environment that is good for existing businesses will help attract new businesses, Don suggests. He believes that Northfield offers a really good quality of life, with a wide offering of restaurants, goods, and services, and can be quite competitive with other communities as a location for businesses. He does wish more stores were open after work hours, however; suggesting that some of our retail leakage comes from after-five trips to Metro stores.
As for offering advice to the NDDC Board, Don recommends collaborating with other groups on bigger, community-wide issues. Among those he suggested are transportation and safety, as well as a stronger physical connection between the north and south of the Highway 3 corridor. Such connections, Don argues, will benefit all of the business community.