Archives for December 2014

Stewartville’s Halcon Furniture Expands

Article by: Chris Giesen

Halcon Furniture recently broke ground on a 15,000 square foot, $3.3 million expansion at its Stewartville, Minnesota headquarters.  The expansion will create at least 10 new jobs at a wage of at least $14 per hour over the next two years and will likely create an additional 40 jobs within that same time frame.  The project will create a “working showroom” that will bring Halcon’s nationally-based clients to Stewartville to view Halcon’s products in action, freeing up existing space for additional manufacturing capacity.

In order to facilitate this expansion, Stewartville’s CEDA team members were able to secure a $175,000 Minnesota Job Creation Fund grant as well as work with the Stewartville EDA and City Council to approve a $400,000 tax increment finance (TIF) district.  “Halcon has been a great community partner and we look forward to their continued success in Stewartville” said CEDA Vice President Chris Giesen, who is assigned to Stewartville.  He continued, “This is the second Job Creation Fund award that CEDA has helped secure for a business expansion in southeast Minnesota.  The program is less than one year old, and to my knowledge CEDA is the first and only organization in Minnesota that has successfully authored two such applications; this one in Stewartville and another in Harmony earlier this year.”

Long Time Halcon Furniture Employees Break Ground on New Building

Long Time Halcon Furniture Employees Break Ground on New Building

Preston NW Industrial Park Breaks Ground

Article by: Cathy Enerson

City Council and EDA board members and Preston’s city staff met at the new NW Industrial Park to recognize the City of Preston’s second, 2014 business public infrastructure grant project and the ground breaking for Bluff Country Manufacturing. Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)’s business development infrastructure grant program (BDPI), was used in conjunction with tax increment financing, and annexation to expand, and or develop three businesses in Preston. The City received a $350,000 grant for the Industrial park, and another $137,000 BDPI grant to assist with Preston Dairy and Farm’s 4.5 million dollar expansion. Preston Dairy and Farm is currently constructing phase three of their 2014, three phase expansion project. Their project is located just north of the new industrial park along highways 52 and 16. The Preston Dairy and Farm project retains 16 area jobs, the firm plans to add two more positions. Each BDPI grant provides 50% of the public infrastructure cost.

Six acres of hay ground along highway 52 in Preston, formally owned by Robert Doherty, was purchased by the EDA to create three industrial lots at the park. Two of the lots were spoken for, one by Rockny Moger of Bluff Country Manufacturing, who recently completed their 11,000 square foot facility in December 2014. Bluff Country Manufacturing’s project adds a significant tax base, retains 7 jobs and creates 2 new jobs. JMS Agronomics is the second business going into the park. Jason and his wife Mary are planning to build in 2015. Jason has been in business locally for 15 years. His business is new to the City of Preston and will add two full time jobs, one part-time job, along with adding to the local tax base. The EDA is currently entering into an option agreement for the third lot. “The expansions, new construction and annexation will substantially aid the city’s growth and sustain the city utilities, regional tax base and area employment. Expanding infrastructure provides opportunities for future manufacturing and commercial businesses to continue to grow to the north and west of Preston. There has been a lot of economic activity within a two mile stretch in Preston including, B & B’s renovation and the veteran’s cemetery being built,” said Chuck Aug EDA’s President. Casey’s and Family Dollar have also recently located on highway 52.

Preston NW Industrial Park Ground Breaking Ceremonies

Preston NW Industrial Park Ground Breaking Ceremonies

Fillmore County Hosts Summit

Article by: Joya Stetson

Fillmore County held an informational summit on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 for economic development professionals throughout the county.

The event, which was held at the Fillmore County Office Building in Preston, Minnesota, delivered valuable information on project Destination Medical Center as well as regional labor market information.

Speaker John Murphy, representing Mayo Clinic and Destination Medical Center (DMC), shared that over the next 20 years, 6 billion dollars will be invested in the generation of 35,000-40,000 jobs.  According to Murphy, DMC is planning to focus on ensuring Rochester and surrounding areas have affordable and desirable housing for the diverse workforce; increasing the number of hotels, hospitality, retail, arts and culture options in the area; putting an emphasis on sports, recreation, health and wellness; establishing learning opportunities; and retaining organizations with new research and technology in the region.  Murphy also noted the importance of cross-community collaboration during the implementation of DMC.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) presenters, Mark Schultz and Kevin Kelleher, discussed the low unemployment rates in Minnesota.  Schultz emphasized the importance of wages and their role in the retention of labor. Schultz conveyed that methods of acquiring and retaining labor may include the following ideas: ensuring competitive wages, looking at offering flexible scheduling, more consistently and appropriately motivating employees, and holding hiring events for face to face interaction with employers. Kelleher also reviewed information on available incentive programs through the State of Minnesota.

“The summit was a really successful means of communicating important information to the county and getting economic development professionals together for meaningful discussions.  Fillmore County plans on facilitating more of these types of events in the future,” said Cris Gastner, CEDA Senior Vice President and EDA Director for Fillmore County.

St. Charles EDA Sees Large Private Investment in Rehab Program

Article by: Cris Gastner

The City of St. Charles Economic Development Authority reported that over $660,000 of private investment was made as a result of the Commercial Rehabilitation Program that provided a small capital investment through a 5 year fixed loan program.

“I think the response exceeded all of our expectations,” stated Cris Gastner, CEDA Senior Vice President and St. Charles Economic Development Director. The program’s design allowed St. Charles commercial businesses to access up to $10,000 or 50 percent of the total project cost on a 5-year forgivable loan basis. The program which was designed and first started the middle of 2013 was made possible through the dollars received as part of the Rochester Sales Tax dollars. The EDA initially invested $100,000 into the program and while it was slow to start, it was eventually increased to $150,000 total funds available.

“Over 15 different businesses within St. Charles requested the funds and has resulted in many of the improvements that residents are seeing not only within our downtown mainstreet corridor, but also along Hwy 14 and Hwy 74 north,” Gastner stated. The goal of the EDA, City Council and staff was to help promote the investment into those areas because it is a critical part of the infrastructure of our community, Gastner relayed.

In addition, it was reported that 14 new home building permits have been issued because of the EDA and City Council’s decision to utilize Rochester Sales Tax revenues to reimburse home buyers for their 2014-2015 new home building permit fees. This program has helped to increase the number of building permits and resulted in an average construction home price of $221,000.

Rushford Opens Highway 43 to Public

Article by: Sam Whitehead

This year the City of Rushford experienced major reconstruction of Highway 43 which runs through town. This meant multiple street closings for a large portion of the busiest time of the year. The Rushford EDA made many efforts to lessen negative impacts to local businesses. The EDA also hired a consultant to coordinate with the City, Chamber of Commerce, and MN DoT to help ensure a “business as usual” attitude throughout the entire process. In addition, the Rushford EDA set aside money for signage programs to help attract attention to local businesses, and the program was successful in creating quality signs for local businesses. This kept the store fronts looking their best through the roadwork and maintains that they will continue to look sharp into the future. The Rushford EDA continued a micro grant program to help businesses develop new marketing avenues and expand existing services. The program requires a matching contribution from the business to help ensure the fund helps as many as it can. Through the efforts of the EDA, the City of Rushford looks ahead boldly with a brand new highway and an appealing downtown, ready to provide excellent service for those passing through or those who have settled down.

Preston and Spring Valley Manufacturers Recognized

Article by: Cathy Enerson

The EDA in Preston recognized eight area manufacturers and processors. The event was held Monday October 20th at City Hall in Preston. One of those manufactures, Bluff Country Manufacturing was in the process of building and expanding. Later that day six manufacturers from the Spring Valley area were also recognized at a ceremony at Spring Valley’s City Hall. Four of the manufactures, AMD, SATA, Kappers, and Tracker Industries have each expanded their facilities in 2014. These two events kicked off the State wide manufacturers week. During the events local manufacturers were informed about DEED’s new programs which were developed with the intention of replacing Job Z, a long standing program, which will sunset in 2015. Jennifer Hauser from DEED was in attendance at both events to present these vitally important area manufactures with certificates from Minnesota’s Governor, Mark Dayton.

Preston Area Manufacturers                                             Spring Valley Manufacturers

Foremost Farms                                                                       Amd Distribution Inc.

Bluff Country Woodworks                                                                           Kappers Fabricating

Root River Hardwoods                                                                                  Minnesota Metals

Poet Biorefining                                                                                                Tracker Industries

Preston Iron Works & Truck Repair                                                        SATA Dan-Am

Fastenal Industrial Supply                                                                           Stier Steel

Bluff Country Woodworks

Hormel Stockyards

Preston, MN October 20, 2014 Manufacturers Day

Preston, MN October 20, 2014 Manufacturers Day

Spring Valley, MN October 20, 2014 Manufacturers Day

Spring Valley, MN October 20, 2014 Manufacturers Day

Lake City Accepts Property Donation

Article by: Marie Pflipsen

The Lake City Economic Development Authority (EDA) accepted a property donation from Kwik Trip, Inc. on November 26th. The property, formerly a Sinclair Gas Station, is located a block off of Lake Pepin on Highway 61. With direct access to the highway and downtown Lake City, the land donation presents the EDA with an exciting opportunity to redevelop a prime location.

In order to create new life in the property, the EDA is establishing an Economic Development District and planning to invest in the structure, so the building can be upgraded and reused. The EDA board will be reviewing multiple ideas for the property and will begin pursuing the top choice this upcoming spring. During the last EDA meeting, the board approved the removal of the gas island canopy. “The removal of the canopy will be a tremendous start to improving a property that will have a great effect on the entire downtown area,” stated Marie Pflipsen, CEDA Community and Business Development Specialist representing Lake City.

Property donation to the Lake City EDA from Kwik Trip, Inc

Property donation to the Lake City EDA from Kwik Trip, Inc

Houston County Holds First Economic Development Summit

Article by: Sam Whitehead

Earlier this year Houston County held its first annual Economic Development Summit in La Crescent, MN. Businesses were invited from around the county to attend the conference. Pizza was served from a local pizzeria and good cheer pervaded the air as the Summit commenced. Presentations on social media marketing for both businesses and communities were presented at the event. In addition to the presentations on marketing, the Houston County EDA had another treat in store for those who attended. Mr. Don Weber of Logistics Health Incorporated was gracious enough to attend the event as a guest speaker to tell his story of growing a successful business in Houston County as well as provide insight to how others may do the same. The County also presented on programs they had to offer new businesses as well as those looking to expand. Overall the entire event was a huge success. Plans are in the works for another economic development summit early next spring as we look forward to another great year.

Fairfax Conducts Community Survey

Article by: Sam Whitehead

Earlier this year CEDA was approached by Fairfax to conduct a Business Retention and Expansion Survey. One of the recommendations CEDA had for the city was to start a ‘shop local’ campaign. The Fairfax EDA seized the opportunity and created just such a program. The first iteration of the campaign saw that if an individual spent $50 or more in a local shop, their name would be entered into a monthly drawing. On the first Thursday of every month, at the Fairfax EDA meeting, a name would be pulled out of the entries and the winner would be given a $50 gift certificate for use at any of the participating businesses in town. The program has been very successful and the Fairfax EDA recently voted to tailor the program to see even more use. Without a doubt, the Fairfax EDA is helping to keep small businesses strong.


Eyota Economic Strategic Planning Funded by the EDA and Alliant Energy’s Grant Funds

Article by: Cathy Enerson

The Eyota EDA and City Council recently invested time and capital to jointly create an economic strategic plan for the City of Eyota.  The purpose of the plan was to determine which of the original seventeen, community driven, economic development projects the City of Eyota would feasibly develop in the next several years. Some of which may get a financial boost from the Rochester half percent sales tax dollars.

The work plan provides the City with a timeline for each project, and determines the responsible parties and collaborating organization that will be used to facilitate each of the projects.

During several planning sessions the seventeen projects were condensed, and or combined into six projects that will lead to increased jobs, increased tax base, and community development.