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Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services headquarters on track to finish in spring

Construction on the new Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services headquarters north of Interstate 90 on Freeborn County Road 22 is on track with completion estimated for May of next year.

Work began on the new building in May of this year with walls made by Wells Concrete starting to be erected the second week of June, said Jim Krueger, president and CEO of the cooperative.

The new building will be approximately 97,800 square feet, with 25,800 square feet of office space and 72,000 square feet of garage and warehouse space.

Krueger said the existing cooperative building, on East Main Street, is about 45,000 square feet. The cooperative has been in the community since 1936 and had been in the space since 1950. It had outgrown the building after acquiring the service territory and assets of Alliant Energy in 2015, nearly doubling its employee numbers. The building was designed for 40 employees, whereas when the cooperative is fully staffed now it has about 65.

The cooperative considered remodeling its current facility or rebuilding at the same site, but it ultimately did not have enough buildable space. Cooperative leaders moved forward with purchasing the 25.67 acres for the new headquarters in 2018, and the land was annexed into the city of Albert Lea earlier this year.

Krueger emphasized how important it was for the cooperative to stay in the community.

He said when the cooperative’s board started the project, its goals were to have a building that fit the cooperative’s needs, that the community would be proud of and that would be fiscally responsible.

The cooperative hired Market & Johnson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which has overseen several other cooperative projects, as the contract manager. River Valley Architect, also out of Wisconsin, was the architect.

At the beginning of September, Krueger said there had been a great construction season so far, with no delayed work since early June. The roof of the building was installed, and contractors were pouring concrete flooring, and he hoped the building would be fully enclosed for interior work by October.

Krueger said the cooperative considered whether to move forward with the project amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it ultimately decided it was important to do so to bring in jobs to the community and because of reduced costs. Bids came in 15% less than originally estimated with totals