Work begins on industrial park in A.L.

Published 10:55 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

City and state leaders, along with area economic development officials, broke ground Wednesday for the street that will lead to Albert Lea’s newest industrial park.

Off of East Main Street in Albert Lea, 777th Avenue will be constructed beginning at what now is the truck entrance to Love’s Truck Stop.

The existing entrance will be reconstructed out of concrete and then extended roughly 2,600 feet to service the new 80-acre Interstate 35/Interstate 90 Business Park to the east, said Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman.

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The street construction — a $1.8 to $1.9 million project — is being paid for by about $1 million in state and federal grants, with the remainder of funds coming from Greater Jobs, the city of Albert Lea and assessments, Dorman said.

The grants specifically include a $709,000 federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and a $250,000 grant from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development. The grants were awarded to the Albert Lea Economic Development Authority and the city of Albert Lea in 2009.

ALEDA acquired the land for the park in 2007.

At that time, Dorman said, he and the other ALEDA leaders thought it was important to own the large piece of land that the park will be on because they were competing for a large company. When that prospect didn’t work out, a new idea began forming.

The business park also came about out of a desire to capitalize on interstate traffic near the cloverleaf of Interstate 90 and Interstate 35.

The park will be designed for warehousing, distribution or light industrial, he said.

Dorman noted the importance of having shovel-ready property and of having a large piece of land available to offer companies.

“If you don’t have the site available, you’re crossed off the list and they move to another city,” he said.

In this case, the grants received will help reduce the cost of the land in the park, which will give the Port Authority a competitive advantage when it comes to potential developers.

Dorman said there have been a couple people who have expressed interest in the site, including one local person and one person from out of town, but nothing has developed further yet.

Looking forward 10 years, Dorman said, he hopes to see a couple “big buildings” in the park with a couple hundred people employed there.

He said he knows it’s not going to happen overnight, but the steps are being taken to make that possible.

Kevin Kelleher, with the state Department of Employment and Economic Development said he was happy to be at the groundbreaking ceremony in Albert Lea.

He said there are three different types of cities — cities that make things happen, cities that watch things happen and cities that wonder what happen.

“Albert Lea is in the group that makes things happen,” Kelleher said.

During the ceremony, plaques were also given out to Albert Lea Mayor Mike Murtaugh, Kelleher and a third for the U.S. Economic Development Administration for their help in supporting the project and getting it rolling.

Those in attendance ceremoniously dug ground in the corner of the property, and before the ceremony was even completed, contractors’ trucks had already started coming into the area. They will begin construction as soon as possible.

The road has to be completed before the end of the year because of deadlines attached to the grant money.