Prime Site Could Drive Economic Growth in Red Wing

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Manufacturing has changed a great deal in the last century. Technological innovations have vastly improved industrial processes in terms of safety, productivity and efficiency.

Innovative manufacturing methods are being held up as a key to helping rebuild and strengthen the U.S. economy. That’s because the creation of high value products for consumers generates more profit and demands skilled labor, which translates to high wage jobs.

The City of Red Wing welcomes light industrial and advanced manufacturing projects. The Red Wing Port Authority (RWPA) staff had the foresight to acquire a property more than a decade ago, which offers such businesses a prime location to grow.

The property has a prime location at the intersection of highways 19 and 61 and is the former home of Central Research Laboratories (CRL). After the RWPA assisted CRL with finding a larger and more suitable home in Red Wing, preserving 45 jobs, the company’s founders approached the RWPA about selling the old property. All parties wanted the property to continue to serve as an economic driver in the community.

As of 2014, the property is owned by the City of Red Wing. It includes more than 18 acres within city limits. In an effort to garner more attention for the property, the City of Red Wing contracted with Port Consulting, (the Saint Paul Port Authority’s economic development consulting service). The city is working collaboratively with the Port Consulting and the RWPA to market the project to potential investors.

This SPPA consults with public sector entities to assist with land development, according to Monte Hilleman, senior vice president of real estate. “We are the most active public sector land developer in the Metro. Folks look to us to provide guidance in a number of areas on this front,” he says.

Hilleman says the first step was to set goals for the site and asked questions such as: “What are the appropriate outcomes for this 18 acres of land?”

Port Consulting worked with the RWPA to develop economic development goals for the site, taking into consideration factors such as job and housing density, wages, tax base creation, environmental performance and more. It completed a sociodemographic analysis and then provided a market analysis and recommendations for the property. Market opportunities and industry clusters were identified.

The site is attractive for a number of reasons. It has some inherent logistical advantages such as proximity to highways 16 and 61 as well as easy access to metro markets. In addition, the expansive property is like a blank slate. It doesn’t have the configuration constraints that are typically present in urban locations and could accommodate as many as five new businesses, according to Hilleman.

A sociodemographic analysis showed good access to employees, as Red Wing draws workers from both Wisconsin and Minnesota. “Companies want to be where workers are going to be in a tight labor market,” Hilleman says.

The property is zoned light industrial. A number of development criteria have been determined, including the creation of at least 0.5 FTE job per 1,000 square feet. Jobs generated must start at a minimum of $13 per hour if benefits are included and $15 per hour if no benefits are offered.

Port Consulting helped with the development of marketing materials for the site. “We’ve found success in stating intentions clearly to the marketplace about the kinds of deals and projects we want to attract,” explains Hilleman.

Hilleman notes that the city and Port Authority have the ability to offer incentives for projects that meet the right criteria in terms of enhancing the tax base and creating jobs. “A handful of serious proposals for the site have been considered so far for the site, at least two of which are still active,” he says.


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