Food powder processing and packaging company Maple Island Inc. plans to build a new storage warehouse at its production site in Wanamingo, likely this year, following unanimous approval from the Wanamingo City Council at its April 9 meeting.
In recent years, Maple Island completed a significant plant expansion, adding a new production line that tripled its canning capacity. But to take on further business the company needs to build a 15,000-20,000 square foot warehouse at the northeast portion of the plant. The addition will increase warehouse space by up to 30 percent, providing storage for packaging materials.
The city will act as the legal sponsor for a Minnesota Investment Fund application, facilitating a Department of Employment and Economic Development loan for the Maple Island. The company is seeking the public funding for 75 percent of the project, in the range of $330,000—$450,000.
Maple Island President Greg Johnson attended the meeting with the company’s CFO Greg Smith.
“We see this as a win-win for the city and Maple Island,” said Johnson. “For more people to come and do business with us we need more space.”
The new warehouse space, estimated to cost between $675,000 and $900,000, will allow the company to add a fourth shift on its new production line, creating approximately 20 new jobs.
The Wanamingo plant currently employs around 100 people.
Johnson said that in the future, the company is looking at adding another shift with a third production line geared for pouching, which would potentially add 10-20 additional jobs.
City Administrator Michael Boulton noted that for its part in the DEED loan process, the city would benefit from funds added to its revolving loan fund.
At the meeting, council also approved a formal City/Economic Development Authority revolving fund loan policy with guidelines and an application. The fund was initially created in 2005 with $45,000 from the city general fund and has made one loan that is currently being repaid.
City worker Brad Kennedy passed the wastewater operator certification testing. Worker Monte Schaefer provided a city works update and requested council approval to purchase a new metal detector to handle sewer and water line detection requests from Gopher 1. The current metal detector is old and not effective.
Schaefer researched a new machine which would cost between $3,000-$4,000 and works on a tracer line for water and sewer. He added that with the underground broadband lines being installed by MidCo this summer, the new machine would save time and be more efficient, as there will be numerous calls to locate buried utility lines.
Water tower comments
Resident Bob Benson addressed council to provide information regarding the effectiveness of insulating the water tower to prevent freeze/thaw damage. Benson said he was unsatisfied with Boulton’s reply that insulation wouldn’t work when he inquired, so he did some leg work and drove to Aberdeen, South Dakota, to gather information from a company.
Boulton said he had not meant to dismiss Benson’s idea. He deferred to City Engineer Brandon Theobald’s assessment that a check valve, which costs around $5,500 and would work based on water elevation levels, could be transferred to a new tower in the future. Comparatively, insulating the existing Mingo View water tower carried significantly more expense at the $60,000 price tag.
Benson invited council members to travel to South Dakota with him to see for themselves. Council acknowledged Benson’s input and asked that he share the company contact information so Theobald could research it further.
Council accepted the lone bid from Ziegler Cat for a 2008 pay loader in the amount of $156,755. The machine replaces the city’s circa 1967 grader currently used for snow plowing.
The new 2019 Freightliner 108SD fire truck with 3,000-gallon tanker was also approved for purchase. The Fire Department decided to forgo the added expense of a pump on the new truck, preferring to use other equipment off road. The truck will cost the city $210,267.
Following the public hearing, funding for the two large pieces of equipment was approved by council to issue a general obligation equipment certificate bond in the amount of $367,000 with a 3.2 percent rate. It will mature in 2027.