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Editorial: Willmar's plans are coming together, Kudos to City Council on Jennie-O land deal

The Willmar City Council on Monday unanimously approved the sale of 7.5 acres of land in the city’s industrial park to Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Kudos to each of the council members who voted yes on this proposal.

This is major step in moving Willmar forward in helping Jennie-O expand and keep its headquarters facility right here within the city. This sale consists of two parcels of land, totaling about 8 acres, between the south end of the Public Works maintenance property and Kandiyohi County Road 5.

The City Council authorized the mayor and city administrator to enter in an agreement for the land sale. The agreement would also include a 10-year option or a first right of refusal clause on 30 additional acres within the Willmar Industrial Park for a possible future plant expansion.

Numerous Willmar residents spoke Monday in support of the proposal.

Ken Warner, a Willmar resident, urged the council to move forward on the Jennie-O project and show that Willmar is open and user friendly for business.

Mike Carlson, a Willmar residen, said it was a benefit in having Jennie-O call Willmar home and that the company was “willing to contribute and make Willmar a better community.”

Steve Renquist, director of the Willmar/Kandiyohi County Economic Development Commission, said Jennie-O’s employees in west central Minnesota have a $1 billion effect in the local economy.

The City Council have approved numerous staff plans and made numerous decisions for more than 15 years to plan and build a new waste water treatment plant, plan and build a new Willmar Municipal airport, obtain the release of the old airport land, plan and build expanded infrastructure within the city and plan and expand the Willmar Municipal Park.

All those decisions by the City Council and staff, past and present, were done with the intent of improving Willmar, preparing for a possible Jennie-O expansion and preparing the city for other business growth potential in the future. Those claiming otherwise were either uninformed, naive or both.

The City Council, city leadership and staff, past and present, have planned well, executed numerous plans and achieved all these critical objectives.

They have all played a role in moving Willmar forward.