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Singleteary wants more time, again

By Staff | Mar 24, 2013

The owner of Singleteary Food Solutions in Wells wants more time before he starts repaying his loan and creating jobs in the city.

While the City Council has yet to formally act on Steve Singleteary’s request, it appears to be a done deal.

“To be honest, the state kind of rubber stamped it when he gave a tour of the facility. They aren’t about to deny it,” says City Administrator Steve Bloom.

In a letter dated March 11, Singleteary seeks to have a loan repayment schedule and employment objective extended for one year to April 30, 2014.

Bloom presented a copy of Singleteary’s letter to members of the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) Board at their meeting held Tuesday.

The city administrator says the EDA board has to make a recommendation to the City Council. The general concensus was to grant Singleteary another extension.

“It was a good business decision and still is. Five or six years ago we talked about it costing us $1 million to tear down the plant, now it’s worth millions because of the improvements made,” says EDA board member Kim Sorenson.

Singleteary Foods received $150,000 from the EDA’s revolving loan fund that does not have to be repaid, and the Faribault County EDA contributed $100,000 for the project.

The start-up project also was awarded a $500,000 grant from the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development under the Minnesota Investment Fund program.

The state grant will have to be repaid to the Wells EDA and put into its revolving loan fund.

Board chair Brad Heggen says he’s confident the plant will open and local officials just need to be patient.

“We have to hang in there and be optimistic. If the state sees potential, they have a greater interest than us,” he says.

Board member Jim Heckman agrees with Sorenson and Heggen, saying state officials understand a project this large takes time.

“You take these opportunities as they come along. And, sometimes they develop faster than others,” he adds.

If the City Council gives its approval, the extension will be the second Singleteary has gotten.

Under the loan repayment agreement, Singleteary’s monthly payments for 10 years are $4,713 until he creates 53 jobs. At that point the amount reduces to $3,563.

County officials haven’t forgotten about the $100,000 they chipped in for the new meat-processing plant.

At issue is whether the money given to the Wells EDA was a loan or grant.

Recent notices of two mortgage foreclosures against Singleteary have county EDA board members wondering how that affects their chances of getting repaid.

Commissioner John Roper and a member of the EDA board brought the issue up for discussion at their March 14 meeting.

“I was one who voted to loan the $100,000. As a commissioner, I have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Faribault County to see what our options are,” says Roper.

The county has asked Linsey Warmka, executive director of Faribault County Development Corporation, to contact County Attorney Troy Timmerman.

Warmka says the EDA board is still interested in meeting with members of the Wells EDA.

“We just want to get some conversation between the two EDAs going. We need to decide if the county can get its money back,” she says.

Heggen says in his opinion, it is too early to sit down with the county EDA.

“When and if the state decides the project is not going to happen, I think our EDA will be willing to sit down and discusss what happened,” he says. “To do it before that would be defeating our own cause.”

Singleteary Food has also received two loans backed by the USDA of $1.65 million and $2.712 million. The company also was awarded a $3.627 million loan backed by the SBA.