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Local business makes plans to expand

WORTHINGTON — Representatives from the locally based company PurNet Inc., 1626 Oxford St., went before the Worthington City Council Monday night to request sale of a lot in the Worthington Bioscience Industrial Park.

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Darlene Vortherms, founder and CEO of PurNet, explained the need for an office expansion through its established land acquisition policy.

“We are looking at expanding and we have outgrown our current building,” Vortherms said.

PurNet has been based in Worthington since 1990, and is a medical device and supply purchase/sales company that employs 20 people. It is looking to construct a 10,000-square-foot office building on the subject property.

PurNet needs the building, Vortherms said, because the company plans to increase its number of employees.

“We’re bringing anywhere from 10 to 20 full-time employees into the organization within the next 10 years, but right now, for sure, five more by next year,” Vortherms said.

While all the council members were in favor of the expansion, councilman Scott Nelson voiced concern that the requested location is near the newly constructed Comfort Inn & Suites and Worthington Event Center.

“My only concern is the location of where you want to be; we’re thinking of the hotel and the event center,” Nelson said. “There has been a request to have a restaurant in that vicinity, so I’m concerned we would be using a lot that would be really good for a restaurant ... but I am very much in favor of the expansion and building businesses.”

Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh addressed Nelson’s concern.

“I called the operating manager of the hotel and told him about the interest of a business that is non-hospitality related, and how he feels about them locating next to the hotel,” Oberloh explained.

The operating manager stated that he was in favor of a non-hospitality business moving next to the hotel, according to Oberloh.

“What they’re looking at is people synergies that new facilities and buildings will create, and by doing that, it will attract someone to open a restaurant,” Oberloh said.

While no action was taken on this matter, more information about the expansion and further discussion will take place at the July 28 council meeting.

Also on the docket was a presentation by Bradley Petersen, an attorney and lobbyist for the office of Flaherty & Hood in St. Paul — affirmed as the legislative advocate for the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities — who updated the council on the past 2014 legislative session and how it impacted Greater Minnesota.

The CGMC is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization that represents 85 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Petersen explained that for a short 11-week session, it was quite active and many hot button issues were addressed, such as minimum wage, bullying and medical marijuana. A hefty budget surplus was identified and then spent, and a massive $1.05 billion capital investment package was passed.

For the CGMC, the session proved to be a success in some areas, but showed the battle Greater Minnesota continues to face in others.

“The legislature addressed our top development issue — broadband — by passing a $20 million broadband infrastructure fund,” Petersen explained. “The fund will begin to address the massive need for better broadband access in Greater Minnesota by providing grants to help bring high-quality broadband to areas that currently lack adequate service.”

Petersen addressed a common issue that he saw pertaining to property tax levies. As cities determined their preliminary levies last fall, the Dayton Administration and some legislators expressed concern that levies were too high given the amount of local government aid and other relief directed toward cities and counties during the 2013 session.

“Putting it into context, it was a very, very small increase than what we have historically seen in the past,” Petersen said. “The increase was by 2.3 percent, which was the third smallest increase in the last 25 years.”

In summary, Petersen rated the legislative session “OK” from the CGMC perspective. It did show that if Greater Minnesota wants to get attention for its issues and priorities, Petersen said, businesses, media, local units of government and legislatures should all be moving in the same direction.

Petersen also expressed optimism about next year for CGMC, as it is a budget year.

Also passed during the meeting were two Nobles Home Initiative applications.

Johnson Home & Realtors sought the approval of tax abatement for the construction of a proposed triplex in its Homewood Hills 10 Addition development. Each of the three units will be approximately 1,920 square feet with a two-stall attached garage. The triplexes’ cumulative estimated taxable value is $327,000, which would generate approximately $3,944 in annual taxes utilizing the 2014 tax rate. The city’s share would be approximately $1,250.

The other application passed was for Robert and Donna Tims. The city approved their tax abatement for the construction of a single-family dwelling on property they are acquiring in Woodland Ridge Addition. The home will include 1,700 square feet of living space on the main level, a finished basement and a three-stall attached garage. The estimated taxable value is $251,200, which would generate approximately $2,942 in annual taxes utilizing the 2014 tax rate. The city’s share would be approximately $970.

The meeting concluded with the appointments of Paul Karelis to fill a Police Civil Service Committee position and Aaron Hagen to the Worthington Public Utilities Water and Light Commission.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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