The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 14, 2013

Council hesitant to set land parcel aside

MTU Onsite Energy not committed to expansion

(Continued)

"We know they are looking at pretty substantial international expansion," said Hentges, who joined Gov. Mark Dayton on a European trade mission earlier this year primarily to meet with Tognum officials. "... They obviously need somewhere to expand to."

The company is already leasing nearly 200,000 square feet of space in Mankato to supplement the roughly 90,000 square feet in their own facility in Eastwood, he said. The company also has North American operations in South Carolina and Michigan.

Hentges emphasized that MTU is making no promises to expand, and Todd Riemann, who heads MTU's Mankato operations, didn't either.

"There is no expansion discussion at this point," said Riemann, who also noted that land availability would be "a critical aspect if we were ever to expand."

Council President Christopher Frederick wished the city could get more of an assurance that the half-million-dollar investment would bring a big return.

"All I'm going on is ambiguous statements — 'Well, maybe if I get a warm and fuzzy feeling in a year ... ,'" said Frederick, while also making sure to mention that he recognizes the value the company brings to the city.

Hentges said he anticipates the city, if it purchases the land, would actively market it to other buyers by mid-2015 and is confident it would draw interested buyers at the $87,000/acre price the city is being asked to pay.

Foreman asked staff to provide more documentation, beyond an appraisal, that the price reflects comparable sales in the industrial park. And the council, on a voice vote, decided to delay any decision until its next EDA meeting.

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