Albert Lea beneficiary of JOBZ

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

By Pam Bishop, VP ALEDA

It’s been called &uot;The Mother of all Economic Development&uot; by our elected state leaders and it’s viewed by our Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) as an economic and social tool for communities and business. The Job Opportunity Building Zones or JOBZ is very new and recently was held under the microscope as to what its early efforts have created at a session in Hibbing. This is certainly a new program (January 1, 2004) and will take several years to effectively evaluate.

Here in Albert Lea we have experienced what such a tool can do to attract and get the attention of businesses which desire expansion and start-up opportunities in just seven short months. To think just 18 months ago Albert Lea leaders were the first to testify before the legislature to discuss such a tool and today we lead the state in the number of JOBZ designated businesses. In fact modest numbers indicate over 360 new jobs will be created in Albert Lea/Freeborn County in the next two years, along with a significant investment by these companies of over $43 million. In return they will receive over $14 million in estimated tax savings over the next 12 years.

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All seven companies have had to comply with minimum job creation, payroll and capital investment criteria. A business subsidy agreement signed by these companies requires them to adhere to the standards written in the policy or serious claw back provisions can be required. Local guidelines require ratio of community benefits to tax benefits may not be less than 5:1. This includes a calculation including capital investment, payroll and present value of tax benefits. In addition, the annual financial benefit is considered.

We are excited about the future and are pleased these companies, MF Technologies, Larson Manufacturing, Trails Travel Service Center, SoyMor, ProfitPro, Quality Pork Processors and Agilis have chosen to expand, relocate or start their company here.

Overall the JOBZ program has met with enthusiasm and satisfaction across the state:

Over 83 percent of the JOBZ companies felt the JOBZ program was important to the location of the company. Other factors include market proximity, transportation infrastructure and quality of life.

Most companies would not have invested at the same level without the JOBZ program.

According to Jack Geller, Center for Rural Policy and Development, &uot;The program appears to be generating a substantial amount of interest from business. A majority of businesses approved to date involve local firms seeking to either expand or relocate.&uot;

The collaborative efforts of many organizations should be recognized for their leadership, support and assistance: Albert Lea/Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, City of Albert Lea, Freeborn County Commissioners and our local elected officials.

For more information on JOBZ requirements, properties JOBZ designations in Albert Lea/Freeborn County and the companies which have received benefits click on or

(Pam Bishop is the executive vice president of the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.)