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Singleteary moving into Wells

By Staff | Dec 27, 2009

A truck was unloading items at the former Wells Co-Pack plant.

Being a member of the Wells Economic Development Authority board doesn’t just involve finding projects to shovel out money to.

Literally, it also may mean digging out and clearing some of the white stuff.

On Monday, EDA vice president Kim Sorenson spent some of his day plowing snow at the former Wells Co-Pack Foods plant.

The location is the proposed site for Singleteary Foods Solutions, a food processing company.

“All I know is they are moving a very small line from Connecticut and it’s for poultry products,” says Sorenson.

The equipment was arriving by truck on Tuesday, a couple of weeks earlier than expected.

Sorenson and three other people unloaded the machinery.

He says the city wanted to get the word out to the public because they’ll likely see “activity and movement” at the vacant plant.

City officials have been told the line is expected to employ 12 to 14 people and should be operational by mid-February.

Sorenson and the Wells EDA have been negotiating with Steve Singleteary since April, a Miami-based businessman, to use the vacant building on North Broadway.

For now, Sorenson says Singleteary plans to lease the facility as work on financing for the project continues.

“There are still a lot of hurdles to cross before the plant is fully operating,” he says.

The company is expected to produce beef, pork and poultry products.

Sorenson says some construction will need to be done before the “big line” starts production.Officials have said within two years the new business will employ 200 to 250 people.

The Faribault County EDA has allocated $100,000, Wells EDA $150,000 and the Department of Employment and Economic Development is providing a $500,000 loan.

Despite the funding and countless hours spent by many on the project, Sorenson says the JOBZ program may have been what swayed Singleteary to locate in Wells.

“Without that I think our chances may have been slim to none,” says Sorenson. “He looked at the JOBZ calculator and called us back.”

Under the program, financial benefits in the form of tax exemptions are offered.

Savings could include lower or no property taxes on commercial and industrial improvements; employment tax credits for high-paying jobs; and no sales tax on goods and services used in the zone if purchased during the duration of the zone.

Because Singleteary is utilizing JOBZ, the company would pay a wage and benefits that total nearly $12 an hour.

“This wouldn’t just be good for Wells, it’s good for the surrounding area,” says Sorenson.

Local residents are eagerly awaiting the opening of the company.

Austin Bleess, community development director for Wells, says he’s received phone calls from people wanting to know how they can apply for a job.

“I want to make it clear I don’t have anything to do with the hiring,” he says.

Sorenson says he’s managed to remain “below the radar” so he doesn’t have to field any questions from the public.

“When it opens, it will mean jobs that will turn around an area that’s part of a poor economy,” he says.