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Mitchell City Council OKs portion of MADC's subsidy requests

Mitchell Area Development Corporation received a quarter of their $167,000 subsidy funds on Monday, following the Mitchell City Council's approval.

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People stopping by to take photos of the Corn Palace, walk past the 601 N. Main St. building that's home to the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon across from the Corn Palace. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The Mitchell Area Development Corporation received a small portion of its requested 2021 subsidy funds from the Mitchell City Council on Monday night, providing a boost for the organization to continue operating.

With the council’s approval to award the MADC with $41,750 in subsidy funds, it represents a quarter of the nonprofit organization’s initial $167,000 request. During the budget hearings in August, the City Council opted to temporarily withhold the MADC’s $167,000 subsidy request until the nonprofit organization appeared to be choosing its next chief executive officer, a position that’s been vacant since former CEO Mark Vaux resigned in late August.

Jason Stoebner, president of the MADC Board, provided an update on the search for the new CEO. Stoebner said the MADC Board recently narrowed its search and interviewed the top candidates vying for the job, which includes overseeing the Chamber of Commerce and MADC.

“We're moving forward with the interviews, and things are going well with the process," Stoebner said. "We'll have someone hired shortly."

As the MADC has been hunting for its new leader, David Lambert has served as the interim CEO. Lambert is also the MADC’s director of regional development. Prior to his resignation, Mark Vaux, former executive director of the MADC and Chamber of Commerce, stated in a December 2019 interview with the Mitchell Republic that the $167,000 worth of subsidy funds is largely allocated for operational expenses.

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Founded in 1986, MADC was largely created to bring economic growth and development to the city of Mitchell. Some notable examples of the MADC spurring business growth include facilitating the addition of Cabela’s and the surrounding developments along the south side of Mitchell in the early 2000s. While the MADC is not a division or branch of the city’s government, it maintains a close relationship with the city of Mitchell, as it was designed to do.

While none of the council members added any other reasons for withholding the subsidy money during the August budget hearings, there were some actions that Vaux oversaw as the CEO of MADC that came under fire from some local business owners, like the sale of the former Casey's General Store lot at 601 N. Main St., which sold at a price of $900.80. The purchase price sparked criticism from some business owners who say the land at 100 by 75 feet — which was valued much higher at $25,750 — should have been sold for more money by the MADC.

After Vaux’s resignation during the budget hearings, City Councilman Steve Rice suggested withholding the full amount of subsidy requests until the new leader was hired or appeared to be in a position to.

“I brought this for two reasons at the time. One, we were in the middle of COVID-19 and didn’t know where we're going to be with the budget. And two, the transition across the street had just happened, and we did not know the plan from the executive committee,” Rice said. “But I’ve actively taken part in their plans, and they are actively looking at hiring a replacement with the help of a consulting firm. With that, I recommend approving this.”

Rice noted there were roughly 30 people who applied for the role.

Council member Jeff Smith, the liaison for the MADC, expressed his support for the direction the organization is headed.

"I've got confidence in the organization. It sounds like we got some great candidates, and I look forward to continuing our cooperation," Smith said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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