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Owner to give tour of plant

By Staff | Dec 16, 2012

Two state officials and two from Wells want to hear it straight from the owner’s mouth about the status of Singleteary Food Solutions.

So, they’ve arranged for Steve Singleteary to give them a tour of the 100,000 square-foot meat-processing plant on Dec. 21.

“Everyone in town wants to know what’s going on. I initiated the meeting with him,” says City Administrator Steve Bloom.

Others going through the facility and talking with Singleteary will be Chuck Pettipiece of Pettipiece Associates; Samantha DiMaggio of the Department of Employment and Economic Development; and Jeff Amy, superintendent of Wells Public Utilities.

Bloom says he just wants to get information first-hand.

“It’s a progress report meeting,” he says. “I just want to be able to respond to all the questions I’m getting.”

The start-up venture received private, state, local funding of more than $8 million that included purchasing the property for $1 million.

Singleteary was awarded a $500,000 grant from DEED under the Minnesota Investment Fund program to help fund the project.

In addition to state funding, he received $150,000 from the Wells EDA’s revolving loan fund that does not have to be repaid, and a $100,000 from the Faribault County EDA.

At the time, company officials were hopeful the plant would eventually employ more than 200 in three to five years. “If he (Singleteary) is going to create all these jobs in Wells, I’d like to meet the man,” says Bloom. “People around here are looking for work.”

In March 2010, the plant opened with about 15 employees. That number got as high as 30.

While there was some production, most of the work involved product development and testing.

When most of the workforce was laid off, that caused local residents and government officials to wonder about the company’s fate.

Under an agreement with DEED, Singleteary Food was expected to have 53 working at the plant by the end of last April. By meeting this employment goal, $100,000 of a $500,000 loan would be forgiven.

Wells acted as a “loan sponsor,” meaning the funds would be repaid to the city and put into the EDA’s revolving loan fund.

Last April, the Wells City Council approved giving Singleteary until this month to start repaying the loan, which was expected to begin last May.

DEED officials also agreed to extend the deadline for creating the 53 jobs to April 30, 2013.

Pettipiece was hired by the city to monitor progress of the Singleteary project after their community development director resigned.