Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Sept. 11, 2000

Winsted industrial park may have new occupants soon

By Jane Otto

Business may soon be booming in Winsted's industrial park, but who and what kind of business remains to be seen.

"The minute I give you the name (of the business), it will go in the paper and he wants to keep it private," said Mayor Floyd Sneer at the Winsted City Council meeting Tuesday.

Sneer later told the Journal that until he is ready to sign on the dotted line there is no need to say who and what the business is.

"We have two cities working against us on this. If you don't maintain some secrecy, you get beat every time," he added.

Sneer told the council that this particular industry is very interested in moving to Winsted and will pay cash for the northwest lot for future expansion. The party, said Sneer, also wants to know within what time frame he would have to develop the lot.

Council member Jeff Albers said it's difficult to make a decision not knowing what type of industry this is.

"Take my word, the industry would produce minimal sewage, noise, or air pollution," Sneer said.

Future employment possibilities were also a concern.

"I assume this guy is employing more than one person?" Council member Gary Lenz asked.

"He has 20 employees now and hasn't put a spade in the ground yet," Sneer said.

He later added, "After the meeting, if you come to me one by one, I'll tell you who it is."

City Clerk Betty Zachmann reminded the council that Winsted is competing with two other cities for this business.

"Well, we want to be the forerunner," said Council member Tom Wiemiller.

"It's like the stadium game ­ who will build me a stadium?" commented City Attorney Fran Eggert

The potential business is interested in the northwest lot. The industrial park located on the southwest edge of Winsted has 11 lots with an average size of a little more than 1 acre. The northwest lot is the largest at about 5 acres and fronts McLeod County Road 1.

The city would be required to extend sewer and water service to the property line. There is access to a water main for a service line to the property, but the gravity sewer line would have to be extended about 300 to 400 feet north to accommodate a service for the northwest lot.

Since the industrial park is designated as a tax financing increment district (TIF), the city could recoup its costs for sewer and water improvements through taxes the building and business would generate. In a TIF district, all tax dollars go to the city for a predetermined amount of time.

Lots in TIF districts usually sell for $1, but this party is willing to pay the market value.

Lenz suggested that if this potential business is willing to pay cash for the lot, the city should accept the deal, with the stipulation that development must begin within a year.

Sneer said there are also two other industries interested in moving into the industrial park, both of which, he said, are reputable businesses.

He added that he is working with Gene Goddard of Minnesota's Department of Trade and Economic Development and the interested parties on funding possibilities.

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