Year in Review: Rosemount rises up in weak economy
New businesses come to town, other developments planned
by Tad Johnson
The city of Rosemount went on a economic development roll near the end of 2011 that possibly went unmatched by any community in the Twin Cities.
In 2011, Rosemount has attracted four new industrial-based businesses, earned two grants for a future downtown senior apartment building, seen the start of a 56-unit housing development in the eastern part of town and had two longtime businesses change ownership.
Rosemount has had its share of boom years when the economy was roaring prior to it tumbling into a recession in 2008, but surrounding communities were doing the same.
What’s different this time around is that these developments are happening at a time when the rest of the ecomony is still reeling.
“Needless to say, we are excited about the new business,” Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste said. “We have been in a very difficult economy, so to have any job growth in Rosemount/Dakota County is important to our communities.”
Following is a recap of Rosemount’s momentous year:
The biggest news came in late November when Maple Plain-based Proto Labs, a manufacturer of plastic parts to help companies make prototypes for new projects, said it would expand to Rosemount and staff it with up to 300 employees in the next three years.
If those projections come to fruition, that would make it Rosemount’s third largest employer.
“It’s big,” Rosemount Community Development Director Kim Lindquist said at the time. “We are really excited about this for the current property owner to get a good sale and that (the building) will be full and full with employees.”
Lindquist said the company selected the Rosemount Business Park site, in part, because it was looking for a location far enough from Maple Plain so it could draw upon a new employee base.
Proto Labs said it will start with about 125 employees and grow to 300 in three years, according to Lindquist. She said some employees from Maple Plain will be part of the initial hires, but after that new hires are part of the company’s plan.
“It is especially exciting to have the Proto Labs jobs,” Droste said. “Their expansions in Europe and Asia the past few years is a good example of worldwide markets and how companies must adapt to meet market demands.”
Advertisements for new Proto Labs jobs ran frequently on a Twin Cities radio station not long after the announcement.
Proto Labs purchased the former 130,000-square-foot Webb Cos. building for $3.95 million, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
City officials didn’t know what fate would befall the former Continental Nitrogen & Resources property east of Flint Hills Resources after it was vacated by the company a few years ago.
But the past year has answered that question.
Three companies decided to invest in the property’s current assets and build upon them in 2011.
At the beginning of 2011, Maplewood-based Feed Products North Inc., which operates Origination Inc., started converting a 25-acre, 25,000-ton dry bulk storage facility, 55,000-square-foot heated bag storage building for its natural and organic fertilizer production, ice melt and floor absorbent businesses.
In September, the 52-year-old family-owned, Stillwater-based Yocum Oil Company said it would transform a 50-acre, half-million gallon storage site into the hub for its new business, Rosemount Clean Energies, to develop biofuels.
The plan was to have Rosemount Clean Energies significantly operational by the end of the year, according to Tim Yocum, one of the company’s principals and chief manager. The site is expected to be fully operational in five years.
When it is complete, the refinery will focus on biofuel injection blending and other clean energy products and will be the only one of its kind and scale in the Upper Midwest, according to the company.
In mid-October, Minneapolis-based Hawkins Inc. said it would construct a 63,000-square-foot processing, distribution center for its chemical-processing operation.
Hawkins purchased 25 acres of the former Continental Nitrogen Resources site to build an up to $20 million facility, which it plans to open in May or June 2012 with eight to 12 employees.
Along with the jobs, the city is encouraged by the heavy industrial zoned redevelopment as it grows the city’s tax base, according to Lindquist.
It is not surprising that all three of these companies are coming to this location in Rosemount. Lindquist said heavy industrial property with railroad access is hard to find in the Twin Cities.
All three companies have cited the access to rail as part of their decision to move to the location.
The city hopes its continued efforts to market its “shovel-ready” sites will bring even more businesses to Rosemount in 2012.
“We have been doing a significant amount of structure and policy work at the Port Authority this past year,” Droste said. “We have to improve marketing skills and look for new ways to present Rosemount and Dakota County as a great place to make investments and grow markets.”
In other developments, the city is working with Development Representation Associates LTD to be the builder of new downtown senior housing and a senior center.
For the past few years, the city has eyed the 2.56-acre site of the former St. Joseph School and homes that once fronted on Cameo Avenue for a senior development.
Lindquist said DRA President James Trucker is very excited about moving forward and is interested in what the next steps are.
DRA, which includes DSGW Architects of North St. Paul and Ebenezer Management Services of Minneapolis (part of Fairview Health Services), was selected from among three developers who applied.
Lindquist said DRA is aiming to show residents concept options by February 2012.
In May the city received a $120,000 grant from the Dakota County Community Development Agency will go toward demolishing and removing hazardous materials from the former school.
In December, the project received a $440,000 Metropolitan Council Livable Communities grant to relocate a natural gas substation, build rain gardens and underground stormwater treatment, add streetlights, and build a sidewalk and public plaza.
The biggest news on the housing front in 2011 was continued progress for the future development of homes in Prestwick Place – a D.R. Horton project.
Fifty-six new single-family homes are planned near the northwest corner of County Road 42 and Akron Avenue.
The development will go up in two phases. Homes are touted as starting in the low $300,000s (www.drhorton.com).
Two longtime Rosemount businesses changed ownership in 2011.
The aquisition of Carlson Tractor & Equipment and Rosemount National Bank meant continued operation of those businesses’ offerings into 2012.
After the sale of Carlson to Titan Machinery Inc. on Monday, May 16, officials with both companies said customers won’t notice much of a difference.
While the name of Carlson’s two locations in Rosemount and Rogers changed over to Titan, the West Fargo, N.D.-based company retained all of the Carlson employees and were expected to add some, according to Rich Carlson, longtime owner of the local company with Ron Carlson.
“We will still be working here,” Rich Carlson said at the time. “We are all staying with the company. We are here to help keep doing what we’ve always been doing. Hopefully, we will be doing it better than before. (Titan is) in it for the long haul. We will take it as far as we can.”
Titan’s past record includes acquiring locally owned dealerships to expand its network, which includes 83 dealerships in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming.
Winona-based Merchants Bank added its 18th location and its fourth in Dakota County on Friday, Nov. 18 when it completed its transaction with Central Bank, taking ownership of Central’s location in Rosemount.
“Adding Rosemount makes a great deal of sense for us,” said Richard Mahoney, president and CEO of Merchants Financial Group, the holding company that owns Merchants Bank. “It provides greater coverage in the southern metro, giving our customers greater convenience. It is a great location with long-standing customers, and it is in a community that values community banking.”
The Rosemount location, at the corner of County Road 42 and Chippendale Avenue, joins Merchants offices in Apple Valley, Lakeville, Hampton and Hastings.
Central had owned the Rosemount bank since April, when the former Rosemount National Bank was closed by the FDIC and then re-opened as Central Bank. Rosemount National had been serving the community since 1982.
Tad Johnson is at email@example.com.