Guest Column: Albert Lea’s first industrial park began in 1950s

Published 11:31 pm Friday, May 19, 2017

Guest Column by Noelle Hagen

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency is the organization dedicated to the economic development and business climate improvement of our community. Dedication to economic development has deep roots in our community. In the early 1950s, the first community-owned industrial park in the United States was built in Albert Lea.

This industrial park, in southern Albert Lea, was named Jobs Industrial Park and was built during a pilot economic development project of Jobs Inc. (now known as Greater Jobs Inc. under the ALEDA umbrella) called the Albert Lea Plan to create new jobs for returning soldiers of World War II. Since its construction, the industrial park has seen many companies grow and provide jobs and tax base for our community. In 2009, an additional area of land near the original industrial park land was bought by ALEDA and was developed. The construction of this new industrial park, ALEDA Industrial Park, included road infrastructure, utilities and regional retention ponds that serve the surrounding lots. A new spec building was constructed in 2009 and is currently occupied by a local company as warehousing space.

Noelle Hagen

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Other industrial parks in Albert Lea include the Northaire Industrial Park in North Albert Lea which was developed in 1976 and included 92 acres of industrial shovel-ready sites. Northaire Industrial Park is home to companies such as Zumbro River Brand, Albert Lea Select Foods, Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen and Minnesota Corrugated Box. In total, there are over 20 businesses in the park.

In 2009, the I-35/I-90 Business Park was created. The park is suited for light industrial or distribution and consists of 80 acres. ALEDA built the road to service the site and extended utilities. Currently, a new hotel is located here and the remaining lots are leased for ag production until sold for development. Other industrial sites in Albert Lea include the Habben Industrial Park south of Albert Lea along U.S. Highway 65, the Plaza Street sites, and the Agri-Resources park in Glenville/Albert Lea.

Industrial parks have many benefits. Infrastructure needed in industrial areas, including power and roads, differ greatly in comparison to residential uses. By concentrating industrial buildings in a designated area (to create a park) allows for these resources to be highly concentrated in those areas. Creating designated industrial land is also advantageous for companies as they are usually located near interstates, highways and intersections that can accommodate heavy load traffic due to the high use in the area. On the residential side, limiting the amount of industry near or in neighborhoods increases the quality of life for those who may have otherwise dealt with noise, pollution and heavy truck traffic.

ALEDA invests in land to maintain a healthy number of acres available for development for companies looking to relocate or build additional sites in Albert Lea. These available properties are often pitched to companies looking to relocate, as they are in the prime industrial areas of the city.

If you have any questions about our industrial parks, including what is available for development, please give us a call or stop by our office:  2610 Y.H. Hanson Ave., Albert Lea.

Please stay tuned for updates throughout the year on what we are doing to fulfill our mission, “To provide and promote services and resources to retain, expand, create and attract businesses, increase tax base and create quality employment opportunities in Freeborn County.”

Noelle Hagen is the small business and marketing manager at Albert Lea Economic Development Agency.