The Marshall-Saline Development Corporation board voted Tuesday, Dec. 11, to continue working with Zimmer Real Estate Group on economic development planning and projects through 2013.
Zimmer was hired last year by MSDC with funding from businesses and communities in the county to help develop a new comprehensive economic development plan. With the plan 99.9 percent done, the focus in 2013 will be on developing specific projects, according to Stan Moore, who filled in at the meeting for Executive Director Bill Riggins.
Moore said the new contract will enable MSDC to continue enacting what the plan specifies.
MSDC President Jene Crook said the organization is pleased with the work Zimmer has done so far.
"We like the way they have gotten in and gotten involved," she said. "They have been very active. We would like to give them a chance to really show what they can do."
Moore said as valuable as the economic development plan is -- providing guidelines and a direction to follow -- the process of creating the plan has been more valuable.
Of MSDC's project list, a number are the result of the planning process, he said.
"The plan gives us a way forward," he said, "but it's the process you go through, the contacts you make (that matter most). It's people that make things happen, not paper."
Moore announced to the board that the Old Fitzgibbon Hospital has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and he said redeveloping that property is an example of what Zimmer would do in 2013.
During the summer months, when Sunflower Development Group was pursuing zoning changes to enable a redevelopment project for the old hospital, Riggins said another project was in the wings.
Moore said Zimmer would seek to make that project a reality.
Moore also greeted the historic preservation designation with appreciation.
"I'm excited about the hospital," he said. "A project like that, you need the historic designation."
The $42,000 contract for 2012 includes $1,500 per month for Zimmer and $2,000 per month for Sterling Consulting.
While Zimmer will help pursue development projects, Sterling is expected to boost income by bringing in more grant money.
Finance Committee representative Gene Fangmann said profits from property sales this year would help cover the money for the contract, but if all goes as planned, additional grant income will "more than offset the cost."
Editor's note: The author is chairman of the Saline County Historic Preservation Commission, which reviewed and approved the nomination of Old Fitzgibbon Hospital to the National Register of Historic Places.