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Senator Amy Klobuchar holds call with Region Nine Development Committee members to address COVID-19 affects and response in rural Minnesota

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Friday afternoon, Senator Amy Klobuchar called a meeting with Region Nine Development Committee officials to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 in rural areas in the state of Minnesota.

"We know we are going to get through this, right?" said Klobuchar. "But it is not going to be tomorrow. So I am looking at the day after tomorrow,  Which will be sometime next year, and how we're going to rebuild our economy."

Watonwan County was represented by Steve Cooling and St. James Mayor Gary Sturm.

Cooling shared updates on the city of Madelia— including the Madelia Community Hospital and Clinic, and Tony Downs purchasing a large, previously unoccupied building, and the Madelia movie theater.

Cooling also had concerns about the local farming economy.

"For our area, we're real lucky and fortunate to have some pretty good potential yields coming," said Cooling. "But the prices here in the last week to two weeks have come back some. But as a lender, the last couple years, and even this year probably, more importantly, it's going to be hard— it's really going to be difficult I think— we're seeing a stress in the farm economy."

Cooling noted that restrictions and limitations have led to many more meetings between borrowers and lenders to make payments. 

Mayor Sturm provided a quick update on St. James and the CARES Act funding dispersal among education, businesses, and non-profits.

"We want to make sure that we include everybody and don't miss anybody so that we can help as many as we can."