Downtown Wabasha

The Wabasha Port Authority and the City of Wabasha, recently wrapped up a three-year grant, totaling $284,835 in assistance to 17 small businesses to upgrade their HVAC systems in response to COVID-19. The Port secured these funds through a competitive process through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Small Cities Program, which awards grants through the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The HVAC grant program allowed the Wabasha Port Authority to provide businesses in Wabasha up to $25,000 to improve the air circulation in their buildings. In the process, the Port also worked with 11 different HVAC and electrical contractors, based in Wabasha, Kellogg, Lake City, and Plainview.

“Our new system is working great,” said Paul Busch, owner of Paul Busch Auto Center, one of the grant recipients, “All our employees have mentioned what a difference it has made as soon as the system was installed. Our customers cannot believe how comfortable it is in our showroom now that it is up and running. Thank you Wabasha Port Authority for making this grant available to us.”

Jerry Hinrichs and Dawn Cripe have owned West Side Tavern since 2020. A month after they took ownership, they had to close their business due to Covid-19. “Luckily, everyone wanted a local bar,” said Dawn, so business picked up again. However, the lack of good heating and cooling units meant the bar would get really hot and uncomfortable fast if it got crowded. Their new HVAC system was installed last December. “Grumpy Old Men Days, it started getting really crowded in the bar and hot. We turned the air conditioning on, and it quickly cooled down the building in 15 minutes. It was great!”

Paul Busch, Paul Busch Auto Center

Dawn Cripe and Jerry Hinrichs – West Side Tavern

Fresh Wok was the last project that the Port was able to fund. The contractor who replaced the system, Rodney Banks of Banks Heating and Air Conditioning, Lake City, was very glad Fresh Wok was able to obtain the grant, because the existing roof top unit had a defect that could have caused serious harm.

“When we went to replace the unit, said Banks, “We found cracks in the old heat exchanger, probably from hail damage. That represented a major fire and carbon monoxide hazard that we were able to avoid through the grant.”

Jeff Wang, the owner of Fresh Wok, was extremely grateful for the grant as well. “Our air feels cleaner. The efficiency of our new system is felt by everyone who chooses to dine with us.”

Jeff and Annie Wang, Fresh Wok

Other grant recipients included Silver Star Saloon, Old Triangle Pub, Local World Gallery, Eagle Valley Chiropractic, SVJ Creative Designs, Pure Identity Salon, River Valley Outfitters, REMAX, Xtreme Image Salon, Broken Paddle, Gerken’s, Slippery’s, Binner Lakeshore Agency, and Marcou Realty.