From left: Marcia Haley, SMIF SBA Lending Director; Nancy Vee, EZ Medical Wraps, Ashley Aukes, Region Nine Development Commission; Kay Gunderson, Kay's Upholstery; Tim Penny, SMIF CEO & President

Businesses opening after February fire

Two months after the February 3, 2016, fire that destroyed eight businesses on Madelia’s main street, the town – and business owners – are regaining their footing. La Plaza Fiesta Mexican restaurant is close to opening in a temporary location at the Madelia Golf Course Clubhouse. Tressa Veona Salon has a new permanent location identified and last Friday, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) President and CEO Tim Penny joined SMIF SBA Lending Director Marcia Haley to give aid checks to the salon owners to restock their supplies. “Everyone has a spot,” said EZ Medical Wraps owner Nancy Vee.

Vee and her older sister, Kay Gunderson of Kay’s Upholstery, celebrated the grand opening for their new location on April 1. They are now located at 225 Benzel Avenue NW. “If it hadn’t been for the assistance from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Disaster Recovery Fund, we would have had to close our doors for good,” said Vee. “We had only been in business a year, and had used all of our savings to get it off the ground. We were looking forward to finally making some money this year when the fire hit.” The money from SMIF’s fund went to supplies that Vee will use to restock her medical wrap business, which sends hundreds of wraps worldwide every month to people affected by lymphedema. Her wraps help reduce swelling in limbs. 

SMIF’s Disaster Recovery Fund raised over $230,000 in about a month. So far, nearly $80,000 of that has been disbursed to business owners, and a large portion will be allocated to the City of Madelia to help with rebuild efforts. Clean-up of the site has begun. 

“Working with the Madelia business owners affected by the fire has been really gratifying,” said Haley. “Despite such a devastating loss, they’ve been nothing but appreciative. I think it’s a testament to both their tenacity and the strong support of the community.”

Meanwhile, an aid bill for Madelia is making its way through the Minnesota Legislature, authored by Representative Bob Gunther and Senator Julie Rosen. More fundraisers are planned.

“As with the floods in Rushford in 2007 and the floods and tornadoes affecting southern Minnesota communities in 2010, the Madelia fire was a hard loss for a small community,” said Penny. “As in those instances, the generosity and strong community spirit of our rural towns shines through. It’s encouraging to see these businesses bouncing back.”

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