New, shorter name approved for Kandiyohi County and Willmar EDC


— As part of the rebranding of the

Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission,

the Joint Powers Board on Monday unanimously approved a new, shorter name — Kandiyohi County Economic Development.

The EDC will continue to go with the full nine-word name for legal documents and in its reporting to the state of Minnesota, the shortened name is for marketing purposes as the EDC goes through the process of rebranding.

"I go back to Thursday, and, as Aaron (Backman, EDC Executive Director) was being introduced at the housing forum (put on by the League of Women Voters of the Willmar Area), poor Jan Dahl is trying to get out 'Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission' and I felt badly for her," said Joint Powers Board member and Kandiyohi County Commissioner Steve Gardner regarding the need to shorten the name. "In a way, it kind of proved a point that we all know already, which is, that just doesn't work anymore."

The next step in the process will be for the EDC's marketing committee to decide upon logos, which it will recommend to the Joint Operations Board and the Joint Powers Board for approval, according to EDC Marketing and Communications Specialist Kelsey Olson.

The EDC is expecting that process to be completed by the beginning of 2024 at which time it will roll out the new website and marketing campaign.

There will be a strategy for rolling out the rebranding, which likely will coincide with a potential change in location for the EDC offices that is also under consideration. Along with a potential renovation and addition of space at its current location at 222 20th St. S.E., right off of U.S. Highway 12 East, the EDC is considering two other locations — Appletree Square, located at 1601 U.S. Highway 12 E., and Heritage Bank, located at 310 First St. S. in downtown Willmar.

In presenting the survey results regarding a new name to the Joint Powers Board, EDC Executive Director Aaron Backman noted that the organization was formed as a joint activity between the city of Willmar and Kandiyohi County 20 years ago and that things evolve over time.

"Names are important. They identify ourselves, they identify organizations and who we are," Backman said. "In terms of branding, it is important, I feel, to recognize our audiences, the people we represent, the various communities, opportunities, as well as visibility as an organization."

The survey was conducted among all of the members of the EDC's five committees and the Joint Operations Board. It had a response rate of 71%, with 39 of 55 people responding. The respondents overwhelmingly chose Kandiyohi County Economic Development over the five other name options, with 26 respondents making that their first choice.

The other five options were Prosper Kandiyohi County, Prosper Economic Development, Kandiyohi/Willmar Development, Willmar/Kandiyohi County Development and Kandiyohi County/Willmar Development.