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City-owned building in Hardwick finds new owner

Lead Summary
Mavis Fodness

Hardwick’s Main Street received a boost May 1 when the council accepted an agreement from a rural Jasper man to purchase the city-owned former grocery store, returning the structure to the private sector.
Bill Rolfs offered $50,000 for the two-story brick building, which council members unanimously accepted.
Paul Pierson with the Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Marshall helped Rolfs with business plans and assisted city officials in utilizing its revolving loan fund.
“It is an interesting thing that I got to wear two hats,” he said.
Pierson, a retired USDA Rural Development employee, didn’t negotiate the purchase price but, as part of his role with SBDC, helped Rolfs with his plans to start a business.
Rolfs agreed to borrow $40,000 from the city-controlled, revolving loan fund for the building purchase and for the proposed remodel. Terms of the loan are over 10 years at 4.5 percent interest.
Rolfs was unable to attend the May 1 Hardwick council meeting.
Pierson spoke about Rolfs’ building plans to council members instead.
“The business venture he is looking at is basically an apartment on the upper level and the income potential based on what you get from rent,” he said. “The lower level he plans on occupying and starting a business in there.”
No specifics were available on the type of business, which Rolfs plans on implementing in about two years.
Pierson indicated that Rolfs would spend the next 18 months on improving the building and keeping the three-bedroom apartment occupied.
The second year would focus on the lower level, which Pierson referred to as a potential “office complex.”
The city of Hardwick purchased the former Hardwick grocery store for $40,000 in 2013.
Council members turned the upstairs living quarters into an apartment and opened the ground floor for business opportunities.
In 2013 the 1,500-square-foot ground floor became home to the Country Discount Grocery Store.
At the store’s closing in early 2015, the city received a USDA rural development grant for new or expanding businesses.
The city matched the USDA’s $25,000 to start the loan program. The $50,000 is available to any for-profit business in Hardwick to cover a variety of needs.
The loan was used once since the program began six years ago.
Alliance Communications out of Garretson, South Dakota, utilized the money during the construction of the fiber optic equipment hut located in Hardwick. Alliance paid the loan back to the city months after the loan was issued.
Pierson, who worked for USDA for 34 years, said if the loan program is not utilized for a period of time, USDA officials might remove the program from use in Hardwick.
Even with Rolfs’ loan, the fund still has $10,000 available.
“Looking at it historically, we really hadn’t had anyone else who wanted to take advantage of the loan,” said city clerk Tammy Johnson.
About the SBDC
The SBDC is a network of nine regional centers located on college campuses throughout the state.
Services include professional consulting, training seminars and financial assistance.
Services are provided at not cost to clients. Training seminars are also offered free or for a nominal fee.
SBDC is funded through the U.S. Small Business Administration, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and region support partners.
The southwest regional center is located in Marshall at the campus of the Southwest Minnesota State University. The phone number is 507-537-7386 and email

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