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BREAKING NEWS

State, county, city pool funds to spur growth

By Staff | Dec 7, 2009

State, county and city officials have joined forces to try and spur economic development in Wells.

By pooling their financial resources there’s hope of luring Singleteary Food Solutions — a food processing company — to the area.

The new business would be located at the former ConAgra facility. Within two years it’s expected to employ 200 to 250 people with a starting hourly wage of nearly $12.

At their November meeting, the Faribault County Economic Development Authority (EDA) board voted to enter into a cooperative leading agreement with the Wells EDA.

By doing so, the county is turning over $100,000 it has committed to the project to the Wells economic group.

Talks with the company began in early spring when Zoa Heckman was the Wells community development director.

Last month, work on the project was handed over to the city’s new director, Austin Bleess.

“We’re still in the financing phase. We are trying to close any gaps to get the project rolling,” Bleess says.

In addition to the county’s funds, the Wells EDA has earmarked $150,000 and the Department of Employment and Economic Development is providing a $500,000 loan.

EDA board member Rob Nelson sayscooperative lending agreements aren’t anything new.

The county worked with Winnebago officials to secure funding for someone interested in purchasing Parker Oaks nursing home.

Nelson says because the county recently voted to stop funding the EDA, action needed to be taken as soon as possible.

“We’re shutting down. For the Faribault County EDA there is no tomorrow. We didn’t want the money hanging out there,” says Nelson.

Under a resolution approved by the county EDA board, Wells officials may use the funds however they deem necessary.

The Wells city attorney has been contacted regarding the lending agreement.

“We want to make sure everything is legal so this project can happen,” Bleess says.

It still must be decided whether the county’s $100,000 will be a loan or grant. If the deal falls through, the money must be returned to the county EDA.

Nelson says whatever type of funding package is put together it will be money well spent.

“Deals like this don’t come along this way everyday; maybe once in every 10 to 15 years,” he says.