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MN: DEED Awards Shovel Ready Certification to Fergus Falls and St. Cloud

12 Apr, 2011


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Business park developments in two Minnesota cities have been certified for the Shovel Ready Program by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Office of Business Development (OBD). The certifications were awarded to the cities of Fergus Falls and St. Cloud.

Shovel Ready certification means that a city or developer has completed the planning, zoning, environmental studies, title work, public infrastructure and other pre-construction activities that have been completed on a particular site. Shovel Ready sites are more attractive to companies that want to move quickly with plans to start up, relocate or expand their operations.

“Shovel Ready certification is a popular tool for city officials who want to bring new business development to their communities,” said DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips. “Sites that have been certified as Shovel Ready have a competitive edge over other sites that don’t have the designation.”

John Rhodes, a leading national site-location consultant with Moran, Stahl & Boyer of Lakewood Ranch, Fla. works with OBD on the Shovel Ready Program.

“Shovel ready certification is becoming popular nationally as well,” said Rhodes. “The tool is successful because it increases the speed in which companies can start up operations after the site decision has been made, and limits their risk for the unknown.”

Since OBD launched the program in 2009, development sites in Alexandria, Big Lake, Brainerd, Cambridge, Dayton, Monticello and Rosemount have received certification as Shovel Ready.

Following are brief descriptions of the two new Shovel Ready sites:

Fergus Falls – The 15-acre Progressive Drive Industrial Park is located less than two miles from I-94 in Ottertail County, with access to a municipal airport and within 50 miles of an international airport. There is direct truck access to a 10-ton road system and Minnesota state highways. There is regional storm water ponding and three-phase power, water, sewer and high-speed fiber optic service to the site.

Fergus Falls is a micropolitan statistical area, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and draws workers and shoppers from many miles around.

The city’s assets include award-winning education and health care. Minnesota State Community and Technical College in the city was listed in Washington Monthly's 2010 ranking of America's 50 best community colleges. There is also access to other universities within 50 miles of Fergus Falls. Lake Region Healthcare in Fergus Falls received the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals award for performance improvement in 2010.

"Being Shovel Ready makes a lot of sense for businesses seeking a location,” said Harold Stanislawski, executive director, Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission. “We are pleased to offer this industrial park as Shovel Ready."

Local contact: Harold Stanislawski, executive director, Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission, 218-739-0128.

St. Cloud – The Airport Business Park (ABP) is 172 acres with streets, water, sewer and graded sites ready for construction. The St. Cloud metropolitan statistical area, approaching 200,000 in population, is within that “magic circle,” an hour northwest of Minneapolis and St. Paul to take advantage of lower land prices and competitive wage rates. It is also less than an hour and a half from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, allowing business travelers to be in most major markets in the country and return home on the same day.

The ABP is already home to the Donlin Company, providing quality millwork to the wholesale market for more than 80 years and one of three production facilities for National Vision, the nation’s fourth largest optical company.

“Shovel Ready designation is one more step in St. Cloud’s mission of creating a private-public partnership that focuses on business retention and recruitment,” said Mayor Dave Kleis. “By assisting our companies in producing products and services to export outside of our area and thereby injecting new money into our local economy, we will create jobs that will improve the quality of life for all St. Cloud citizens.”

Local contact: Bruce Maus, senior vice president, Grubb & Ellis, 651-214-9833, bmaus@northco.com

The Office of Business Development (OBD) is the lead office for retaining existing Minnesota companies, helping them expand within the state and working to promote Minnesota as a location for new business.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PositivelyMN.

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