By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The new director of the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation has ties to Colfax.
Eric S. Turner attended the Colfax Village Board meeting January 28 to introduce himself.
Turner’s grandparents were Colfax residents, and his father graduated from Colfax High School.
But Turner’s association with this area is even closer, so to speak, than his grandparents and father as residents.
As it turns out, Turner’s grandfather was Leon Turner.
A certain number of Colfax residents will recall that Leon Turner — who passed away in February of 1990 — was a teacher at Colfax High School for many years and a teacher at rural elementary schools before that in Eau Claire, Weston and Norton.
Eric Turner says that he has fond memories of Colfax and of Dunn County and that he is happy to have returned to the area.
“I have a background with Colfax … Colfax is vibrant and has a lot going on,” Turner told the village board.
The Colfax industrial park is “the only one in the county that is full,” he noted.
Gary Stene, village president, said the village’s industrial park has one space left, but is, for all intents and purposes, full.
Because of the proximity to the highway system, it is easy for businesses to look at Menomonie, but that is not necessarily good for the economic development of the entire county, Turner said.
Dunn is a large county and has quite a few incorporated villages: Colfax, Elk Mound, Knapp, Wheeler, Boyceville, Downing.
“We need to get in the corners,” Turner said.
The larger corporations want to be located in Menomonie, but the smaller communities are a better match for the smaller up-and-coming companies, he said.
Turner said he plans to work with the entire county.
“I really rely on people whose feet are on the ground (out in the county),” Turner said.
If anyone hears of companies that want to expand or relocate or want to take a closer look at Dunn County, “let me know,” he said.
Turner said he is making contacts with business owners right now to find out how their businesses are doing.
“The worst time to hear about it is when they are going out of business,” Turner said.
Gary Stene, village president, said the village board has been working on being forward-thinking in the past few years and that he anticipates a good working relationship with the new director of the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation.
Turner and his wife, Paula, recently moved to Elk Mound.
After operating a business in St. Croix Falls for many years, the Turners lived in Texas for a while before returning to Wisconsin.