Nobles County Commissioners move forward with tax abatement

WORTHINGTON - The Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a tax abatement for a new feed mill in Round Lake, with the abatement contingent on approval of attorneys from the county and New Fashion Pork.

The feed mill will be built on the former Crystal Valley Coop site, and New Fashion Pork CBO Vince Baack said they are looking at it as a 50-year asset to the community. Baack said there are environmental issues, but that are solvable.

The new mill will fund approximately nine new full-time jobs, and NFP estimates an annual payroll of $500,000 per year, along with consumption of $210,000 per year in electricity and more than $300,000 in annual diesel consumption.

The annual amount of the tax abatement will be equal to 67 percent of the county's share of the real estate taxes. A similar request was made to the City of Round Lake, and if the plan moves forward, construction would commence within six months of a definitive agreement with all parties.

The commissioners also heard from Nobles County Fairboard member Ron McCarvel, who requested the county secure  a loan for road repair at the fairgrounds. According to engineering estimates, replacing the driveway and road from the ice arena to Pioneer Village will cost $290,000 to $320,000, but that is if everything is hired out, McCarvel said. They hope to have volunteers and people who donate in-kind work.

The board approved the request.

Worthington Director of Community/Economic Development Jason Brisson stopped in to speak to the board about a new program through DEED that would create what Brisson called opportunity zones around the state, to be chosen by the governor. Brisson said he has more questions than answers at this point, but the main goal of the program is to use public and private dollars to create a fund, to be used for development in certain tracts in the state. Worthington has three of those tracts, and Brisson recommended one that encompasses land on Oxford and around Bio Drive. Most tracts that qualify, Brisson said are either in the metro or on tribal lands.

The board approved a resolution to send in an application for the program, and Brisson will work with county administrator Tom Johnson to get it done.

There was an update from Johnson regarding the potential collaborative project on the old Campbells site now being called WELL - which stands for Welcome, Education, Library, Livability. Johnson said he has met with state representatives, who are supportive of the project. He met with members of the bonding committee, who have hinted the collaborative entities would need to come up with a 50 percent match of whatever they might receive. The current estimate on the project is $26 million, with another couple million for remediation and prep.

The board decided to set up a joint meeting between county, city and school officials, so all entities can get on the same page about how to move forward.

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