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Blue Earth may want to build to compete

August 23, 2012
Gary Andersen, Lee Smith

As with any city in Minnesota, or in surrounding states for that matter, Blue Earth would like to bring more business and industry to town. To that end, it is considering a proposal from the private, non-profit Faribault County Development Corporation, which suggests building a 66-acre industrial park at the northwest corner of Interstate 90 and Highway 169.

The proposed cost of acquiring the land, putting up a 20,000-square foot business incubator building and paying other expenses is estimated at $6.5 million. The first phase would cost $2.5 million, with the city expected to kick in $1 million. The project depends on grant funding, as well as annexation by the city, neighborhood meetings, and engineering and site preparation. The city considers it possible that it could pay off its $1 million share through the rent payments at the site.

It's always a little scary when cities or counties engage in major economic development projects of this sort. The inevitable question is: What if it doesn't work the way it's supposed to? The answer:?Taxpayers are on the hook.

On the other hand, we can't think of a bigger city around here that doesn't plan ahead and establish industrial parks. These are essentially land away from residences with enough space to build, access to roads and/or rail, and with the necessary infrastructure in place for industrial use, among other amenities. The fact that every city does this makes it extremely difficult for one city to say it isn't going to risk the tax dollars. That's because cities also are thinking about new jobs and new tax revenue should they succeed.

As is the case with Blue Earth, the hope is that an industrial park will pay for itself, and maybe do even more. If Blue Earth leaders believe the proposal makes sense in the end, we can't say they are wrong to move forward.



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