A "shovel-ready" designation for Brainerd, one of three in the state, is expected to give the area a boost in attracting business and industry as well as jobs.
Brainerd is one of three cities in the state to receive the first "shovel-ready certification" for new business and industry development sites. The announcement came late last week at the 14th annual Minnesota Development Conference in Bloomington.
The Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corp. spearheaded the work for the city of Brainerd to gain the designation. Sheila Haverkamp, BLADC executive director, was reached at the conference Friday.
To use a sports analogy, Haverkamp said the certification means a company looking for a site is in the fourth quarter with a lead in the score instead of just getting ready for the game. In the competitive environment of attracting business and industry, Haverkamp said the designation streamlines the process making cities with it more attractive and on a short list.
As the recession eases and companies look for opportunities, the hope is the shovel-ready designation will prove a draw for jobs and economic development here.
The site selected is the 34-acre Brainerd Industrial Park which is described in DEED's announcement as a "premiere greater Minnesota location for business and industry with state-of-the-art infrastructure, low costs and rapid permitting turnaround. An integrated walking/biking trail, pad ready sites and comprehensive stormwater retention system are also part of this site."
Haverkamp said the certification also aligns Brainerd more closely with the state and marketing efforts for economic growth and development as state officials recognize amenities here. The Brainerd site will be marketed at national conferences, trade shows and on the mnpro.com Web site, which lists available commercial buildings and land in the state.
In the world of development, Haverkamp said the bar is being raised all the time and this certification helps Brainerd be competitive. She said it creates a streamlined process as companies are confident due diligence is already completed for a site.
To get the designation, sites have completed planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soils analysis and public infrastructure engineering and must be in legal control of a community or in a partnership with a third party, the state reported.
In a news release, Dan McElroy, DEED commissioner, said global economic forces are motivating companies to make market decisions fast.
"These cities have invested in this lean, yet rigorous process that significantly reduces time and money for companies that wish to grow in Minnesota," McElroy stated.
John Rhodes, a national site location consultant, who was recently in Brainerd and who works with DEED, said shovel-ready sites are more attractive. Time is critical for the companies along with predictability, and certification gives communities "a distinct competitive advantage," Rhodes said.
BLADC has been working on the certification for about six months and is among the first cities to be this far along in the rigorous application process, Haverkamp said. The process included a site visit and meetings with community representatives.
The city of Dayton listed an area named Stone's Throw, a 628-acre, mixed-use development project with 140 acres of retail, commercial and manufacturing space for its certification.
Rosemount was working in partnership with Ryan Companies and assisting with marketing efforts for a 52-acre site suited for light industrial, office showroom, warehousing and assembly.
"The program is a great opportunity for local communities to enhance the readiness of their sites and to gain significant exposure for sites that earn the shovel-ready certification," Gene Goddard, DEED senior business development specialist, said in a news release. "This is especially important for greater Minnesota locations so they can differentiate themselves in the marketplace."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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