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Pictured is a drawing of the proposed Prairie Holdings Group building, which will be constructed in the bioscience park in Worthington. Submitted Photo

Group to build in Bioscience Park

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WORTHINGTON — Prairie Holdings Group needed a new office space, and the company won’t have to go far to find the land for it.

The Worthington City Council approved on Monday the sale to PHG of eight lots in the Bioscience Industrial Park, where a new building will be constructed.

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“It’s going to be our whole office complex for the Prairie Holdings Group, which is support staff,” Marc Freese, COO of PHG, said earlier Monday. “We’re also looking to move ProPig out there. We’re in the process of working on some other ventures that we’d move out, also.”

The company will move from its current location to the northern part of the park.

“We had an agreement with Merial to be able to stay in our current location through this fall,” Freese said. “With Newport Laboratories taking on new ownership, we do need to move our Prairie Holdings facility out of the current Prairie Expo facility.”

There was talk about land closer to U.S. 59, but Freese said that option was eliminated.

“We toyed with going up there with our new office complex, but we didn’t feel like that lot was adequate for expansion,” Freese said. “That was primarily the reason we chose that site up north. In talking with the city and (Administrator) Craig Clark, it was pointed out there was those lots that may fit our need a little better because of the room.”

Freese said there was never any talk about relocating outside of Worthington.

“Never, absolutely not,” he said. “We’re almost to the point where we are a proponent of other companies to come here. That would have never been an issue because you have a workforce, amenities, schooling and everything that goes along with Worthington. It’s just a little bigger city.”

Right now, the cost of the proposed 21,000-square-foot office building and a 12,650-square-foot manufacturing/distribution center is not known. However, the timeframe for the new facility will be relatively short.

“We actually have to be out of our old facility by this fall,” Freese said. “We’re going to be breaking ground here shortly. As soon as the frost is out, we’ll be breaking ground. So it’s coming quick.”

In a public hearing Monday night, the council approved the sale of the 13.88 acres of land. The established asking price is $360,000.

However, that amount will be in the form of a forgivable loan, as long as PHG meets certain criteria. Among those, PHG must construct improvements that will have an estimated market value for tax purposes of at least $2.5 million. According to Clark, the return on investment for the city is approximately 14 years.

“It’s set up as a land forgiveness loan agreement,” Clark said. “It’s structured over a 20-year term. They have to create jobs and tax value, which they aren’t going to have a problem in meeting the added tax value.

“They have to produce 18 jobs over a two-year period and have a minimum wage of $10 per hour inclusive of benefits,” Clark continued. “That shows the requirements they have to contend with. Every year the loan of the amount is forgiven.”

Freese said PHG will be able to create those jobs.

“We do have some new ventures that are getting closer to going live,” he said. “Plus, when the ownership group sold Newport, some of our key employees went to Newport. We’re going to have to add some new employees -- not only with that venture to support Prairie Holdings, but we also have some new venture that are coming active that are also going to have some new employees.”

During the council meeting Donna Tims, CFO, said some of the jobs added will include staff accountants, warehouse employees, sales staff and maintenance staff.

According to Abraham Algadi, manager of Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp., the transaction is a harbinger of good things to come.

“We obviously see that as a very good sign of things to come,” Algadi said. “This is obviously one of our major employers, and we support their efforts in starting to carry out their plans.”

The council unanimously approved the sale.

“This is exactly what we’ve been hoping for,” Council member Scott Nelson said.

In other business, the council also heard a presentation about the restoration of the Japanese cannon in Chautauqua Park. Nobles County Administrator Tom Johnson presented proposed modifications to the county tobacco ordinance.

The council also approved $25,000 for professional services to prepare application for conditional letter of map revision in relation to the flood mitigation study.

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.

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