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A million dollar announcement

By Staff | Sep 29, 2013

The area of the new industrial park is shown at right, bordered by Highway 169 to the right, old Highway 169 to the left, and I-90 on the bottom. It will be to the right of the Hope Methodist Church.

It was the news that city of Blue Earth officials have been holding their breath waiting to hear.

‘The grant’ has been approved.

The federal grant of nearly a million dollars that will make it possible to proceed with the new North Industrial Park.

“We just learned that the city has been awarded the $993,000 grant by the Federal EDA (Economic Development Authority),” says Linsey Warmka of the Faribault County Development Corporation (FCDC).

The grant will pay for half of the infrastructure costs of the new site, located just north of I-90 and west of Highway 169. The infrastructure includes sewer, water and streets for the new development.

The project will provide seven buildable lots for industries, generate 108 full time equivalent jobs and generate $25.5 million in private investment, according to information in the grant application.

“This is a project the city has been talking about for decades,” says Blue Earth mayor Rick Scholtes. “And now is perfect timing for it because we have a business locating there and others that are interested.”

FCDC was instrumental in the grant writing process for this project, working for the city of Blue Earth.

A first application was not denied, but did not make the cutoff list for funding.

“They (Federal EDA) encouraged us to apply again, so we did,” Warmka says. “This is a big deal that we got the grant. Now we can begin construction next spring.”

There are several pages of requirements the city now has to accomplish in order to meet federal quidelines, but Warmka doesn’t see any problem with that.

For instance, one requirement has to do with having a survey done of the proposed land area and a report filed with the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). That survey would determine if the land has any significant historic value, such as ancient burial grounds.

The Blue Earth Economic Development Authority was already aware of these types of requirements.

The EDA board voted last month to designate funds, up to $4,700, to cover the cost of a survey. The survey will be done by Bolton and Menk Engineers.

Other items that will be addressed include erecting a sign designating the site of the industrial park, starting construction within 24 months and completing construction within 33 months from starting date.

An official statement from FCDC states that the project will capitalize on the existing regional competitiveness of the agricultural industry and foster growth on that cluster in the region.

“This is a win-win for all of Faribault County,” says Dr. Arron Kalis, chairman of FCDC. “The project is based on agriculture which is our leading industry in the county.”

The total cost of the project is at $1.986 million, according to information in the grant documents.

This is considered Phase 1 of the overall development of an industrial park area north of I-90. The park could expand in the future.