City offers land deal to lure major project
WILLMAR -- Forty acres in Willmar's industrial park will be made available to a potential new tenant at a reduced cost, possibly as low as $1. The deal is part of an incentives package that's being stitched together and will be formally offered t...
WILLMAR -- Forty acres in Willmar's industrial park will be made available to a potential new tenant at a reduced cost, possibly as low as $1.
The deal is part of an incentives package that's being stitched together and will be formally offered to the company -- whose name has not been publicly disclosed -- next week.
The Willmar City Council's Community Development Committee voted unanimously at a meeting Thursday to recommend the land write-down to the full City Council. The full council meets Jan. 8.
City officials said Thursday that they're still in negotiations with the company and can't reveal many details.
Bruce Peterson, the city's planning and development director, said however that the deal is major.
The unnamed company approached the city in mid-November about the possibility of building a production and distribution facility in the newest portion of the industrial park, which is being developed on 600 acres that were formerly the home of the city airport.
The facility would contain about 250,000 square feet and would add 250 to 300 new jobs to the local economy, Peterson said.
"This would make it the largest industrial project in Willmar in well over 20 years," he said.
It also represents "a great opportunity" to jump-start the development of the expanded industrial park, he said.
The company is looking at other cities besides Willmar, Peterson said. "This is a competitive situation... We need to progress rapidly with this."
In addition to low-cost land, the city is prepared to offer technical assistance with details such as site planning and utilities, he said. Because the new portion of the industrial park also is a state-designated JOBZ zone, manufacturers who locate there are eligible for tax breaks as well.
Peterson told the Community Development Committee that it's not unusual for the city to offer a land write-down for important or desirable projects.
"We have done land write-downs before," he said. "Because of the magnitude of this project and because of the employment and tax base it stands to generate, it's extremely difficult for staff not to make this recommendation, recognizing the importance this project is going to have on the Willmar area."
The company is expected to make a decision within four to six weeks on whether to accept the city's offer, Peterson told a reporter after the meeting.
"As soon as they would say yes or no, it would be public," he said.