Unidentified Fortune 500 company seeking to purchase land in Willmar Industrial Park; second Fortune 500 company seeking land with railroad access

An unidentified company has signed a letter of intent to purchase two large blocks of land in the Willmar Industrial Park to build a large package sorting and distribution center. A second company is also considering a land purchase and development in the Industrial Park.

A major development could be coming to the city of Willmar. According to Aaron Backman, Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission executive director, an unnamed end user is interested in building a large distribution center project in the city, perhaps in the Willmar Industrial Park. West Central Tribune file photo

WILLMAR — Two Fortune 500 companies have shown an interest in Willmar’s Industrial Park .

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.”


Aaron Backman of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission is shown in a file photo. Erica Dischino / West Central Tribune file photo

Backman told the EDC about the company's planning for a distribution center but did not identify the company. He said it is on the Fortune 100 list.

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.”

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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