NORTH MANKATO —
The Minnesota Valley Action Council purchased a new building more than a year ago, and they’ve been keeping it quiet.
Come August, however, it’s going to be pretty tough for them to keep the secret.
Some call it the old Shopko building, some call it by the name of its current tenant, Johnson Fishing. But the building across Victory Drive from Madison East Center has been owned since 2011 by MVAC. In August, they’ll begin remodeling and renovating the building into their new home.
While Johnson Fishing will remain a tenant, MVAC will occupy two-thirds of the building, or roughly 60,000 square feet. All of its operations will move there, including the Again Thrift Store, which will be situated in the front of the building and include a drive-through drop-off site on the building’s north side.
They’ll move in, they hope, in April 2013.
MVAC provides services to low-income individuals such as heating assistance, job searches, Head Start programs, home weatherization and other programs. Its budget, roughly $20 million, comes from state and federal governments.
MVAC Executive Director John Woodwick said they’ve been considering a move for about eight years. The building purchase was roughly $2.5 million, which they plan to cover using a fundraising campaign. They hope to have it paid off within 10-12 years. Total cost, including building cost and remodeling, is just under $5 million.
But Woodwick said the purchase makes good fiscal sense for an organization that pays about a quarter of a million dollars annually in rent. MVAC houses people in five different locations including the main site, just off Raintree Road near Rooms and Rest.
“The long-term plan for all of this was to invest in a building, lower our overhead costs for providing services and save money in the long run,” Woodwick said.
MVAC has been pushing itself to base more of its services in the entrepreneurial vein Ñ meaning more services that can help fund itself. Woodwick said he hopes they can perhaps serve more people with a better, most cost-effective location.
They’d been looking for the right building for several years. And in January 2011, they settled on and bought the Johnson Fishing building.
Most of the space will be taken up with offices, but Woodwick said they’ll keep some space available for future entrepreneurial endeavors.
The thrift store will increase in square footage, as well. And, if the final outcome remains true to the sketches, the store’s facade will effectively become the face of the organization.
“This is about the long term for MVAC to be a principle player, and to help people with their needs,” Woodwick said.