Public engagement efforts helped reaffirm the County’s agricultural identity from an economic development perspective. This identity continues to embrace a “rural character” through a rich history of family farms and agrarian economic lifestyles. The public engagement efforts also recognized the need to adapt to changing markets and socioeconomic trends to stay viable in the agricultural parts of the County. Businesses that are considered appropriate for the agricultural/rural areas should be able to meet the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Factors. Examples of these types of businesses include:
Rural Business: These are small, privately owned businesses conducted primarily by residents of the property. Typical home businesses in the County include “cottage” type industries or services, ranging from woodworking, cabinetry, contractors, small repair shops, seamstresses and beauty salons. Other types of business may include those that specialize in some form of service, such as accounting, web development, and legal guidance.
These types of uses are typically located along major transportation corridors (e.g., Highway 23 through Rockville, Richmond, and Cold Spring) for access and visibility purpose, and in areas that do not demand a high level of wastewater treatment or water supply. These types of business typically employ any where from 15 to 100+ employees.
There are smaller commercial uses scattered throughout the County, such as convenience stores and gas stations. These uses are typically located near townsites or at major intersections. There are also smaller commercial shops that have popped up throughout the County (e.g., gift shops), which are regulated by the County.
Installing clean energy sources, such as wind and solar can be viewed as a business venture. These systems can help reduce energy costs associated with a residential home or farming/business operation. Larger systems also provide a source of income as collected energy is sold back to the utility provider. The State of Minnesota and Stearns County regulates wind and solar energy systems within the County.