Ford eludes Albert Lea; officials say city gave its best

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 15, 2002

Ford Motor Company will not be building a warehouse in Albert Lea, Rep. Dan Dorman and City Manager Paul Sparks confirmed on Thursday. Instead they will build in Menomonie, Wis.

&uot;Obviously I’m disappointed,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;I thought we were in a pretty good position and felt very optimistic that we were going to win this time.&uot;

Ford instead chose Menomonie to be the site of the warehouse. City officials said that they knew the final decision was down to Menomonie and Albert Lea.

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Ford officials could not be reached for comment this morning, and no statement was issued. A message at Ford headquarters said the company’s offices were closed today.

Sparks said the reasons cited for the decision were the high rate of workers compensation mandated by the state, the proximity to markets and corporate property tax rates that are lower in Wisconsin.

City Councilman Al Brooks said, &uot;It’s disappointing. I guess we just have to go along and get the next one that’s interested in us.&uot;

&uot;I think we did everything we could and put together the best package we could for them,&uot; he said. &uot;I was looking forward to it. It would have sure been a boost to the community.&uot;

The Menomonie warehouse will serve as a parts distribution point for the Midwest for Ford.

&uot;I know they were really impressed by the presentation the city and community members gave,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;I thought we put together a good package. I think we need to analyze this decision thoroughly now and try to figure out what we did wrong, if anything.&uot;

Dorman also said that he feels the community needs to look at ways in which it can be more friendly to local companies.

&uot;Minnesota has always had a tough time with job creation. We’re not even competitive with Wisconsin,&uot; Dorman said. &uot;That’s one reason that Minnesota is slower in getting the state economy moving than other states in the nation.&uot;

Mayor-elect Jean Eaton said, &uot;I’m very disapointed because we needed the jobs. But even having them look at us is such a compliment to us.&uot;

&uot;We can’t forget the fact that we were in the running for this company,&uot; she said. &uot;We did everything we can for this, but we can’t control what the state offers.&uot;