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Steve Salzer, manager of MinnWest Technology Campus, stands outside the administration building on the Willmar facility. MinnWest will be purchasing two more buildings from Kandiyohi County in a transaction that's scheduled to be completed Jan. 4. MinnWest intends to lease space in the cottages to high-tech businesses. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

MinnWest purchases two more buildings from county

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MinnWest purchases two more buildings from county
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- MinnWest Technology is purchasing two more buildings from Kandiyohi County that they intend to lease to future tenants.

The purchase is part of MinnWest's plan to convert the former regional treatment center into a campus for high-tech businesses.


The cost includes $138,921 for the buildings and $261,874 for the depreciated cost of the heating system the county installed in the buildings, known as Cottages 8 and 14.

The state will get the money for the buildings and the remainder will pay off the loan the county has for the new boilers and generator.

Although the county paid up-front costs to improve the buildings, that cost was initially off-set by payments the county received from the state when the Department of Human Services was leasing the buildings for their adult chemical dependency program.

When MinnWest purchases the buildings, the revenue will complete the loan payment.

The whole transaction, which is expected to be completed Jan. 4, will be "cost-neutral for the taxpayers of Kandiyohi County," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

When MinnWest made the deal with the state and county in 2007, it was agreed they would have the option to purchase any building that the state and county were no longer using.

Earlier this year, the state moved its chemical dependency program out of the two cottages and into another building the county owns on the campus.

After the purchase is completed, MinnWest will start marketing the buildings to potential tenants, said General Manager Steve Salzer.

Unlike one of the cottages MinnWest gutted and refurbished, costing at least $1 million, these two buildings "are in good shape," said Salzer.

Other than some new paint and carpet, the buildings could be ready for a new business in a matter of months, he said.

The buildings will, however, "remain untouched until we get a tenant."

The current economy hasn't provided a good environment for businesses to move or expand, he said. He's hoping lease rates that are 30-40 percent lower than the metro area, availability of amenities like a new day care center, cafeteria, fitness center and the "campus appeal" of the grounds, will attract news businesses.

To help get that message out, MinnWest launched a national marketing campaign this fall by having a five-minute infomercial produced that aired on Fred Thompson's "Inside Business" program on CNN.

The video, which talks about the current growth and future promise of the campus, is meant to entice new businesses here. As part of the marketing package, the segment will be aired 150 times in various large markets in the U.S. It can be viewed on MinnWest's Web site,

The county still owns five buildings on the campus. They are leased for the Prairie Lakes Youth Programs, the new adult chemical dependency program and a youth mental health hospital.

Salzer said if there comes a time when those buildings are no longer needed for state or county programs, MinnWest will be looking to purchase them as well.

Meanwhile, the campus is also continuing to work with the University of Minnesota on developing a University-operated lab called the "Mid-Central Research and Outreach Center.

Specific plans for the 6,000-square-foot wet laboratory, which will be located in an existing building on the campus, have not been finalized, said Salzer.

The campus is also celebrating that Epitopix LLC, a major tenant at MinnWest, has been granted a conditional license by the United States Department of Agriculture for the country's first E. coli O157 vaccine for cattle.

Its sister-company, Syntiron, based in St. Paul, has also entered into an exclusive world-wide licensing agreement with Sanofi Pasteur, a French company, to develop and commercialize its vaccine against Staphylococcus, including MRSA or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, according to a press release from Sanofi Pasteur.

Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750