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Renville County supports road project for Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative expansion

The Renville County Board of Commissioners is seeking federal funds for an estimated $2,656,900 improvement to a portion of Renville County Road 21 serving the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative. The county was awarded $200,000 in state funds which will be applied toward a 20% local share of the project.

The Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative facility east of the city of Renville, Minnesota.
The Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville, Minn., pictured on Aug. 24, 2021, in rural Renville, Minnesota. Renville County is seeking federal funding for an estimated $2,656,900 project to upgrade a three-mile section of County Road 21 serving the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative.
Agweek file photo

OLIVIA — Renville County is applying for federal funding to help with a road upgrade sought for an $175 million expansion at the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative in Renville.

The Renville County Board of Commissioners approved an application to the federal Economic Development Administration , a bureau within the Department of Commerce, for funding toward an estimated $2,656,900 improvement to Renville County Road 21. The commissioners unanimously approved the action at their meeting on Tuesday.

In seeking the federal funding, Renville County commits to funding 20% of the overall project cost, or an estimated $513,180, according to Jordan Zeller, Renville County Economic Development Authority director.

The county’s actual funding commitment is expected to be $313,000, thanks to state help. Zeller told the commissioners that the county was awarded a $200,000 Transportation Economic Development Infrastructure Program grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development late last year. The state funding can be applied toward the local share of the 20% match required by the federal government.

The project will involve reconstructing three miles of County Road 21 from U.S. Highway 212 north by the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative facility east of the city of Renville. It calls for building a wider concrete roadway to increase safety for the route that has high truck traffic, according to information from the Department of Employment and Economic Development.

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DEED reports that the cooperative is planning a $175 million expansion. “Businesses along the reconstructed road will create or retain 642 jobs and estimated a tax base increase of $40 million in five years,” according to the department.

Zeller expressed optimism for being awarded the federal funding. His office will be collecting letters of support, from businesses that would benefit by the project, to include as part of the grant application.

The timetable for the application’s review by the federal Department of Commerce is not known, according to Zeller. Commissioner Bob Fox cautioned that it can take time. He serves on the regional railroad authority, which has submitted a similar grant request a few months ago and is waiting to hear on its status.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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