EYOTA — The Eyota City Council took steps Thursday night to check another item off its list.

The council — Mayor Tony Nelson was unable to make the meeting — voted unanimously to award two grants totaling $15,000 to help Mark Westphal start a chiropractic business at 123 Lafayette Ave. SW in Eyota.

“It’s another great amenity,” Council Member John Chesney said.

Council Member and Mayor Pro-tem Bryan Cornell said bringing a health care business to town was a good addition to the city. “There was a gap not having a chiropractor in town,” he said. “It’s like not having a dentist or potentially not having a grocery store.”

While not specifically listed as a need for the city in the Eyota Market Area Profile produced by the University of Minnesota Extension in 2017, Cornell said the business fit into the need of a health care practitioner, which was part of the report that showed what businesses should be added to Eyota.

Now, the closest chiropractic businesses to Eyota are either in St. Charles, about nine miles away, or Chatfield, about 11 miles away.

“The EDA believes it’s a very good thing to have a chiropractor in town,” Cornell said. By adding another service business, the city becomes more attractive to people looking at small towns outside Rochester as places to live.

The money approved by the city council includes a $10,000 grant to improve the building’s façade and entrances, including making the back entrance handicap accessible.

The second grant, which would come from the half-cent sales tax fund from Rochester, would give the chiropractic business $5,000 forgivable over five years to make interior improvements, including handicap accessible bathrooms and wider doorways.

Westphal, who currently works in Wisconsin, said he began looking for towns near Chatfield to open his own business because his wife has family in the area. Eventually, he made a connection with Cathy Enerson, the economic development director for Eyota, who worked to help him find a location and work with him to get funding.

“We’re in the early stages,” Westphal said, adding he will continue working in Wisconsin until his new business is ready. “We just got the building and started tearing down inside.”

Westphal said he hoped to open his new practice sometime this summer.

Like the UMN Extension, he said he sees a town of decent size with a need.

“They need that type of health care in town so they don’t have to drive 10 to 15 minutes for an appointment,” Westphal said.

In other business, the council approved a motion to allow Burt’s Meats to connect two buildings with a walkway as part of the business’ plans to turn the former Jem’s Confections into additional freezer space for the meat processing and butcher shop.

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Regional Reporter

Brian Todd is a 1997 graduate of Nebraska-Omaha. He covers Goodhue, Wabasha, Winona and Houston counties and writes a weekly column about the life of a reporter.