MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Days after a fire destroyed eight businesses in a small southern Minnesota city, residents are asking Governor Mark Dayton for help.
A group of business owners met with local and state lawmakers in Madelia on Friday morning. They asked the governor to help speed up the often slow-moving process of getting state assistance to rebuild.
No one was hurt the in the fire that erupted long Main Street Wednesday morning around 3 a.m. The exact damage estimate hasn’t yet been calculated, and the cause remains under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Business owners like salon owner Summer De La Cruz said they have received an outpouring of support from around the state, but it will still be a long and difficult journey to rebuild their Main Street, and their lives.
“I haven’t heard back from anybody on if they’re even going to allow me into a temporary location without all of the stupid rules and red tape,” De La Cruz said.
De La Cruz said her 5 employees and she don’t qualify for unemployment benefits, and desperately need a place to set up shop, temporarily.
Dayton told the room full of Madelia’s main street business owners help from the state’s emergency relief fund is on the way.
“I don’t have all the answers but I’m here to pledge our support and help,” Dayton said.
Many business owners and the mayor of Madelia expressed worry that property taxes will spike once new buildings take the place of old ones.
Business owners like Matt Gunderson asked the governor for a 10-year property tax freeze. The governor said local municipalities are mostly in charge of property tax issues, but promised he heard the residents’ concerns.
“Most of us are concerned with how much red tape is in the way to get things moving as soon as possible,” Gunderson said.
While state dollars will help rebuild any public property, private businesses will need to rely mostly on insurance and unemployment money.
Dayton promised he would try to make Madelia’s matters among the first to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session, which begins March 8. He also pledged to issue an executive order to get De La Cruz’s business up and running as soon as possible.
“We need to get back behind a chair, that’s all we know how to do,” De La Cruz said.
The state unemployment office will visit Madelia next week to assess who can get unemployment benefits as soon as possible.
CenterPoint Energy will also be back on scene next week to continue investigating what caused the fire.
A disaster relief fund has been set up to help the town and businesses recover. AgStar Financial Services in Mankato got it started with a $15,000 donation.