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$1.2 million in federal funds to Dawson, Minn., for industrial park project

DAWSON -- Dawson's role as an agricultural processing center in western Minnesota got a big boost Thursday, when city, state and federal officials joined to celebrate a $1.2 million federal grant that will be used to expand its industrial park.

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce, as well as state and local officials, were at the Dawson City Hall to present the Economic Development Administration grant during a congratulatory visit and tour.

The city had been working on the grant application for two years and was notified late last week of the grant award. The city is also receiving $500,000 in state funds from the Department of Employment and Economic Development towards the industrial park expansion.

The money will be used to complete a $2.4 million industrial park expansion project.

The community of 1,530 people could not have taken on a project of this size without the federal and state funds, said City Manager Dave Bovee in a telephone interview later Thursday. The city will invest up to $689,000 toward the project, but recover the funds through user fees charged industrial park users.

One of the immediate benefits of the expansion is that it will accommodate the growth of the Noah's Ark meat processing facility. The kosher meat processor has expressed interest in expanding its cooking operation, but needs adequate infrastructure before doing so, according to information from Jackie Anderson, planner with the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission. The commission assisted the city in applying for the grant funds.

The company will retain at least 35 to 40 jobs at the plant, and create at least 15 to 20 new jobs, if the expansion goes forward, according to a news release on the grant award.

The EDA grant complements an earlier award provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which provided Dawson a $500,000 Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant to make street improvements and add a pre-treatment wastewater facility to the industrial park.

The city currently has a 40-acre industrial park. The expansion will add a 65-acre area. The project includes construction of a pre-treatment system for the city's wastewater treatment system; a storm water retention pond; new water main; service roads and industrial sewer system.

It provides Lac qui Parle County with a shovel-ready industrial park to accommodate the either the expansion of existing ag-processing facilities or new operations, Bovee pointed out. Dawson is marketed by the Regional Development Commission as an "ag-processing cluster.'' The city's industrial base includes a large Ag Processing Inc. soybean processing facility and an Associated Milk Producers Inc, facility producing cheese and other consumer dairy products.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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