Sarah Stultz: Business growth heading in right direction

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

There will always be those who disagree, but I think it has been a pretty successful year for Albert Lea from my view. 

As we prepared our Impact special section that comes out with today’s paper, it has been inspiring to reflect on just what has taken place in the last year. 

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There are many things visible from the public eye -— the new apartment complexes, the new storefronts and the expanded and growing events. But there are also many things that are not as visible. 

In case you might have forgotten all that’s happened, I just wanted to take a minute to highlight all the good that has been taking place in our community. 

We have a couple new housing developments in the works — one has already opened along Front Street and more are on the way in the former MarketPlace Foods building and downtown. 

There are new retail opportunities downtown and throughout the community, including, but not limited to, Harbor Freight, Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Kashing Chains, Fusion Board Shop and Shopko Optical.

For restaurants, we have seen the opening of Mocha & Mini, Jersey Mike’s, Natural Asian Grocery & Cafe, Al’s Burgers & Cafe, Scooter’s Coffee and, most recently, Bader’s Cafe.

In the medical arena, Mayo Clinic Health System just kicked off an almost $15 million upgrades project, St. Croix Hospice recently opened a physical location in Albert Lea, Big Stone Therapies opened last November and MercyOne Albert Lea Home Medical Shop in May.

Then there’s the industrial companies. 

Vortex Cold Storage, which invested $30 million into its Albert Lea facility, opened for its first truckload in February. 

Design Ready Controls, which makes electric vehicle chargers, is opening in October. Many others are also looking to grow and expand. 

I’m sure this is only the start of what has taken place, and there have been many other efforts underway. Some are not publicized.

Only until recently did we know of the success of Albert Lea company Granny’s Legacy, which shifted its business during the start of the pandemic and has since doubled in size and is already looking to expand again. 

From listening to a presentation from an economic development official only a few weeks ago, it’s clear there are many other opportunities in the mix. I’m anticipating some more exciting announcements in the near future.

In case you’re ready to complain that nothing is happening in the community and that Albert Lea is dying, I challenge you to drive from one end to the other and make a list of all the new and changed things you see. Keep in mind, too, that some of the additions and improvements are visible, while some are happening without pomp and circumstance inside.

Some businesses are hiring more employees, some have expanded lines, and the list goes on.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.