State grant will boost development along U.S. 59
WORTHINGTON -- The city of Worthington was recently awarded a $4.72 million grant from the state of Minnesota as part of the Minnesota Transportation Economic Development (TED) Pilot Program.
The grant will be utilized in developing the 114 acres of the new 750-acre Worthington North Industrial/Commercial Park on U.S. 59, as well as improving access to the Worthington Bioscience Park.
Several infrastructure improvements will be made to safely accommodate the many expansions currently taking place. Such expansions include extending the four-lane divided section on U.S. 59 north by 1,200 feet and constructing turn lanes at Bioscience Drive.
And because County Ditch 12 crosses the park, renovations will also be made to the sanitary sewer and watermain extensions on Bioscience Drive.
The total project was part of a 70 percent-30 percent cost share program, which required the city to obligate $1.4 million of city funds to pair with the $3.3 million from the state.
The city purchased the 114 acres for $1.4 million prior to receiving grant money from the state.
The loan was paid off during the 2009 calendar year using funds received from the 2008 sale of the hospital.
According to estimates specified in the grant application, approximately 440 jobs will be generated over the next five years and 1,750 jobs over the next 20 years. Such estimates do not include commercial jobs.
"The biggest thing is to be a job creator," explained Craig Clark, Worthington City Administrator. "We're trying to mirror the success we've had on the south side of I-90 and now on the north side."
Clark hopes success and development of the industrial/commercial park will transcend to future economic expansion throughout the city of Worthington.
"We hope it will provide higher paying jobs for our residents and bring new residents to the community of businesses," added Clark.
There are currently only 20 acres of developable land that have been zoned as industrial in the city. Such a shortage of land can discourage businesses from choosing Worthington as a location to start or expand a business. Clark hopes improvement to the land's infrastructure will make future businesses residency in Worthington more probable.
"Having a blank canvas to work with is certainly helpful to customize the needs of someone developing the land," said Clark. "We're trying to get to the point where we can provide that and expand the infrastructure throughout the whole area."
The land is expected to be quickly occupied, as the city is currently working with a local company for expansion opportunities.
"It's really about setting the groundwork for long-term success and trying to take a long-term perspective of providing that opportunity for growth and development," Clark said.
While there currently isn't a projected date for the finalization of the industrial/commercial park, Clark is optimistic for the project's future.
"There's so much potential here for growth and development, and we're excited for it to happen," said Clark. "You never know when it will ultimately come to fruition, but you can't get there unless you have the infrastructure and land available to make it happen. The council has that vision and commitment ... in accommodating the commercial and industrial park."
A resolution for city council's consideration is scheduled for Feb. 14. The city's formal $1.4 million commitment to the project will be discussed.