Singleteary, now a Mankato resident, told The Free Press in February 2010 he expected to start plant operations a month later with a small start-up workforce and ramp up to 200 or more employees in three to five years.
“Wells was very attractive to us because of the labor base there,” he said. “There’s going to be extensive retrofitting and it’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility when we’re done.”
For involved stakeholders, perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the plant is that it has indeed been retrofitted and stands ready to begin processing meat and poultry products for food corporations.
“I’ve gone through this plant and thought, ‘Man, this is pretty impressive stuff. It’s just ready to go,’” said Chuck Pettipiece of Pettipiece Associates in Mankato, which provides community development services to communities.
Pettipiece, hired early in the project to monitor its progress during a transition period within the Wells Community Development office, said Singleteary’s main roadblock to opening now is lack of adequate start-up capital.
That need was exacerbated when plant renovation became more of a money pit than initially thought. Its infrastructure required extensive work, a challenge that, all parties agree, was unforeseen.
Meantime, grace periods, delays, loan-repayment extensions and liens against the company keep accruing.
Singleteary has yet to start repaying a $500,000 loan from the state Department of Economic and Employment Development. Under terms of that loan, Singleteary’s company is to repay the city with the funds going into the Wells Economic Development Authority loan fund.