New Albert Lea business awarded $175K state grant

Published 8:50 pm Thursday, June 21, 2018

Money comes from Minnesota’s job creation fund


The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development on Wednesday announced nearly $706,000 in grants to support five business expansion projects in Greater Minnesota — including one project in Albert Lea.

Grants from the state Job Creation Fund were approved for projects in Glenwood, Stewartville, Albert Lea, Monticello and Zimmerman. The five businesses have committed to investing a total of $20.7 million and creating 131 jobs.

Albert Lea-based Mortarr will receive $175,000, according to a press release.

“Supporting business expansions like these is exactly what the Minnesota Job Creation Fund is designed to do,” said Gov. Mark Dayton. “I congratulate these Minnesota businesses and their hard-working employees for their successes. We are grateful for their contributions to our economy and for the 131 new jobs these expansions will create.” 

The Job Creation Fund, which was created by Dayton in 2013, is a pay-for-performance program that provides funding to businesses after they meet certain criteria, including minimum requirements for job creation and private investments. Under the program, businesses must create at least 10 full-time jobs and invest at least $500,000 to be eligible for financial assistance in the Twin Cities metro and create at least five full-time jobs and invest at least $250,000 in Greater Minnesota, the release stated.

Since the Job Creation Fund was launched in January 2014, DEED has awarded about $38.1 million for 87 business expansion projects in Minnesota. Companies have committed to creating 5,252 full-time jobs and investing more than $1 billion to expand.

“We are very honored to be one of the JCF grant recipients,” said Steve Pulley, co-founder and chief operating officer at Mortarr. “We are committed to the city of Albert Lea and the state of Minnesota, and are excited to see Mortarr grow with this support.”

The press release stated Mortarr, a software business startup specializing in the commercial construction and design industry, plans to invest $1 million to renovate the first and second floors of the Freeborn National Bank building in downtown Albert Lea that will serve as the company’s headquarters.

Officials anticipate creating 34 jobs within two years at wages that average $22.29 per hour, the release stated.

The state support comes on the heels of local support given to the project.

Pulley said the company continues to work with the city of Albert Lea on the final paperwork needed to finalize the sale of the building. He anticipates renovations will begin in early July.

The Albert Lea City Council last month approved loaning the company $740,000 — $370,000 from the city’s revolving loan fund and $370,000 from the city’s new economic development fund.

If 10 jobs are created in five years, $100,000 of the loaned funds from the city’s economic development fund will be forgiven.

The project has also received a $150,000 loan from the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency for equipment and furnishings.

Mortarr Communications Director Jen Levisen stated earlier this month the company planned to expand into the bank building by the end of the year.

Freeborn County District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett congratulated the company on receiving the state grant.

“It’s great to see increased investment and job growth in our community, and I’m excited to see the big impact these dollars will have going forward.”