Grant will boost new industrial park sites in Fairmont

FAIRMONT — Fairmont has been awarded a $434,075 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, funds that will be used to run sewer and water lines to a 37-acre site in the southwest corner of the intersection of Interstate 90 exit 99 and the fairgrounds road, and to a plot of land on the east side of the road.

Linsey Preuss, Fairmont economic development coordinator, informed the Fairmont Economic Development Authority of the grant on Monday.

In March 2017, citing the lack of available buildable land in the city’s industrial park, FEDA entered into an contract with the owner of the 37 acres, David Meschke, agreeing to pay $12,000 for a six-year option to purchase the land. If FEDA exercises the option, it will pay $19,250 per acre or 2.5 times the property’s most recent appraisal at that time.

Preuss said plans are to put the water and sewer extension project out for bids so work can begin in early spring.

“These projects are always weather-pending, but we are hoping to be done by this time next year,” she said.

Completion of the infrastructure will make the site much more marketable, she said, because it will make the land shovel-ready for any new construction.

“Companies will know they can move forward with their projects as soon as they want, rather than having to wait to have all that infrastructure installed,” Preuss said.

“Because DEED funds are being used, that property can only be used for industrial or distribution or value-added ag or manufacturing,” she said. “It cannot be used for a service business or retail business.”

This would eliminate the possibility for a truck stop on the 37-acre site, although public sentiment has long supported this as an ideal site for such a business considering the large number of semis traveling to and from the county’s ethanol and soybean plants.

However, there is a plot of business-zoned land on the east side of the fairgrounds road that was removed from the city’s grant application to DEED. The city will invest about $548,000 for its share of the infrastructure project, including all the cost of water and sewer to this particular plot of land.

“It’s a 50 percent grant so the grant is paying for 50 percent of the cost, minus the infrastructure going to that piece of property which is eligible to be a truck stop,” Preuss said.

Different companies have expressed interest in the property on both the west and east side of the road, but Preuss would not elaborate.

“I think, when companies understand that the infrastructure is going to be there by this time next year, more of them will be open to moving forward,” she said. “I am going to begin marketing it, and I am hopeful to have a business committed as soon as the infrastructure is in.”