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Singleteary financing nearly complete

By Staff | Feb 14, 2010

Austin Bleess

Work on financing to bring a food processing company to Wells is in the final stages.

Once that’s completed, Singleteary Foods Solutions will begin operations early next month in the former ConAgra and Wells Co-Pack facility.

The Wells City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday night beginning at 5 p.m. in the Community Center, preceded by a public hearing at 4 p.m.

Mayor Shannon Savick says the council must approve becoming a “loan sponsor” for the project.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development is providing the city a $500,000 grant under the Minnesota Investment Fund program.

“The city will loan the money to Singleteary and they will pay us back. We’ll then be able to use that money for other projects,” says Savick. “It’s a good deal for the city.”

Austin Bleess, community development director for Wells, says the company is expected to secure private funding by the end of this month or early March.

“They’re planning to begin with 15 workers and over time that will reach around 220,” he says. “It definitely will help the city economically.”

The company will pay wage and benefits that total $10 to $12 an hour.

Owner Steve Singleteary is a former banking attorney and entrepreneur based in Miami.

Starting a business in Wells and returning to the Midwest is a homecoming of sorts for Singleteary.An Indiana native, he is currently temporarily living in Mankato until the business gets off the ground.

Singleteary says he started looking at Wells as a possible site about year ago.

Accessibility to raw materials — poultry, beef and pork — and its geographic location will help with transporting finished products.

“The people of Wells and different entities worked very hard to pull this together and make this happen,” he says. “I’m excited for the local residents.”

Singleteary plans substantial renovation of the facility that will take about three months. He says in three to five years the plant will employ 200-250 people.

“It will be a state-of-the-art facility from an operational equipment standpoint,” he says.

Singleteary was the majority owner and president of a Petersburg, Va., food processing company that supplied beef products to the Burger King franchise.

Black Enterprise magazine listed Singleteary’s Diversity Food Processing as one of the largest minority-owned companies in the United States, having annual sales of $84 million.

The company employed 200 when it was sold to ConAgra in 1998. He also owned 16 Burger King restaurants in four states.

Under the DEED grant, $100,000 will be forgiven.

The start-up venture also will receive $150,000 from a revolving loan fund administered by the city’s Economic Development Authority. That money also does not have to be repaid.

In addition, the Faribault County EDA has earmarked $100,000 for the project.

In other business, the council approved a resolution for seven road projects as part of the city’s street improvement program for 2010.

Total cost of the bituminous overlay work is estimated at $174,950.

A public hearing for the projects will be held at 5 p.m. on March 8 at the Community Center.

Estimated assessment impacts will be addressed.

The streets scheduled for repair include:

• Fourth Avenue Southeast from Fifth Street Southeast to Tenth Street Southeast, $74,100;

• Second Avenue Southeast from Third Street Southeast to Fourth Street Southeast, $12,050;

• Second Avenue Southeast from First Street Southeast to Second Street Southeast, $16,700;

• Third Avenue Southwest from Franklin Street to First Street Southwest, $14,100;

• Third Avenue Northwest from First Street Northwest to Second Street Northwest, $12,900;

• Fourth Avenue Southwest from Franklin Street to First Street Southwest, $14,300;

• Fourth Avenue Southwest from Third Street Southwest to Fifth Street Southwest, $30,800.