City will loan $50K to seed house

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

The City of Albert Lea will loan $50,000 from a state-sponsored economic development fund to Albert Lea Seed House, which is planning an expansion.

The fund can only be used for industrial development, and although the seed house is a mainly retail business, part of the expansion involves new equipment for a cleaning facility, which qualifies as industrial. The city loan can only be used for that expense, said City Manager Paul Sparks.

The city council approved the loan Monday.

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The loan will carry a 4 percent interest rate and the seed house will repay it over five years. The loan is secured by the equipment, Sparks said.

City loans will be scrutinized more closely after a loan recipient went bankrupt this year, leaving a $92,000 balance unpaid. The city will ask the seed house for financial information and an independent financial consultant will review the application, Sparks said.

The money for the loan program comes from the state of Minnesota to be loaned out for economic development projects and could not be spent for other purposes, Sparks said.

In other city news Monday:

– One of three planned welcome signs at city entrances will be moved onto property owned by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services to allow the co-op to place an advertisement on the sign.

All three signs were going to be placed on state property along roadsides, but the state would not allow the advertising on a sign placed on state property. Freeborn-Mower sponsored the sign and wants to include a company logo.

The signs were designed by the First Impressions Committee, a division of Greater Jobs, Inc. They will feature brick work and landscaping in a circular pattern. Jean Eaton of First Impressions said two of the three signs should be up this summer.

– The city will pay only $11,922, plus around $1,000 in incidental expenses, for a $119, 226 environmental study which is required before the city can extend the runway at the municipal airport by 500 feet.

The city is responsible for 10 percent of the cost, but state and federal governments will pick up the rest.

The airport runway will be expanded from 4,500 feet to 5,000, allowing a larger variety of aircraft to use the airport, Sparks said.

– The council agreed to allow a downtown restaurant, Taste of the Big Apple, to place a bike rack in a street parking space. The restaurant had asked to place a rack on the sidewalk, but the city was concerned that could interfere with foot traffic, so the rack will take up a parking spot outside the business instead.

– The city approved on-sale and Sunday liquor licenses for Tienda Mexico, a grocery store and restaurant on East Main Street.

– Approval was granted for the 2003 Festival of Bands. The third-annual festival, which pits marching bands from schools around the state against each other in a downtown competition, was held in June.

&uot;I think it was a great show that you put on this year and it brought in a lot of people,&uot; Mayor Bob Haukoos told Dick Hench, the festival’s chairman, at Monday’s meeting.