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BE industrial park grant passes hurdle

By Staff | Aug 4, 2013

The city of Blue Earth received some good news last week.

Their application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for nearly $1 million in funding for the new industrial park has been accepted for further review.

That means it has made it through the first round without being rejected, but does not guarantee final approval.

And, as the city well knows, even final approval doesn’t mean anything if there are no funds available.

That is precisely what happened the first time the city applied for the grant. There were not enough available monies to fund all of the selected projects.

“Only the federal government can make a commitment that is non-binding,” says city attorney David Frundt. “Final funding for this project depends on how far the pool of money goes. We are at least in the pool, but we are not sure how much water is in the pool.”

At a special joint meeting of members of the City Council, Blue Earth Department of Public Works, Blue Earth Economic Development Authority and the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC) last week, Frundt explained another issue.

“Basically they (the federal EDA) want more documentation on the grant application in order to move it on to the next phase,” Frundt told members of the various boards on Monday morning.

The information the feds wanted deals with issues about the land, its purchase and who will actually own it.

“They want to know who will be the lead agent on this project,” Frundt says. “And it is my opinion it needs to be the city.”

Linsey Warmka, director of FCDC, questioned why it should be the city.

“The EDA will actually be purchasing the property and developing it,” she said. “They would be owners of the land.”

Frundt replied that because of the language in the City Charter, the city is the ultimate authority.

“The city has the authority under the charter,” Frundt says. “The EDA operates under the city according to statute. So, it needs to be the city that is listed on the application.”

The city has until Aug. 5 to provide all the requested paper work to the federal agency.

At a special meeting of the City Council and the EDA on Thursday evening, the city completed a deal for the purchase of some of the land that will be used for one lot in the industrial park at a cost of $61,500. That property is currently owned by BEISCO.

They also approved a purchase agreement for the land that will be used for six more lots at a cost of $850,000. The land is owned by the Manske family.

The total cost for the industrial park project is listed on the application for the federal grant as being $1.986 million.

The federal grant would be for $993,000 and would be used for construction of roads, water, sewer and other related infrastructure work and not for the purchase of the land.