Aaron Backman, executive director of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, said Thursday during a meeting of the EDC Operations Board that he had received a signed letter of intent from one of the companies Wednesday to purchase 28.84 acres for a package sorting and distribution center in the Industrial Park.
The other company is still scouting locations.
“We have the possibility of working with two Fortune 500 companies simultaneously,” Backman said. “In my role, it’s rare if you work with one; it’s exceptional if you work with two simultaneously.”
The Willmar City Council is set to hold a closed meeting Monday to consider the land sale, and the city attorney is reviewing documents, he said.
The company is planning to build a package sorting and distribution center that would employ about 200 people and use automation, Backman said.
The facility would be 217,000 square feet, and could be expanded. The development would have parking for 500 vehicles and trucks.
It would be larger than a distribution center project which was discussed two years ago.
The company’s representative said it’s interested in building “the sooner the better,” Backman said. The proposed timeline is to begin construction this fall and be in operation next summer, he said.
The Industrial Park property that the company wants to buy is Block Three and Block Two — 28.84 acres west of Kandiyohi County Road 5 between Trott Avenue and Willmar Avenue Southwest. A total of 11 lots are included in the deal.
The company is asking to have 32nd Street Southwest vacated between Trott and Willmar avenues. That street is platted to run between the two blocks the company plans to purchase. Another request is the installation of a stoplight at County Road 5 and Willmar Avenue.
A second Fortune 500 company, a bioenergy business based in Missouri, is interested in 80 acres in the Industrial Park and would need a rail spur, Backman said. He did not identify that company either.
The project would employ fewer people but the capital investment would “dwarf” that of the distribution center.
The Willmar Wye project to reroute roads and BNSF Railways tracks to provide a rail bypass on the west side of Willmar could make it possible for a rail spur into the Industrial Park.
“How long have we been working on the Wye project? Like, forever?” Backman said. “This will tie into the Wye and help justify a rail spur.”