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City council cuts deal with Pepsi-Cola Bottling

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Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Rochester will keep its business in town with construction of a warehouse and distribution facility beginning this summer.

The city of Rochester locked in Pepsi-Cola's future business Monday evening with an agreement to provide $800,000 in tax-increment-financing assistance.

The Rochester City Council and Economic Development Agency approved a development assistance agreement and established a development district that will see Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. reimbursed for land costs over the eight-year life of the district.

In return for the city's financial assistance, Pepsi agreed to retain its 80 full-time and 47 part-time employees and begin construction on a 97,000-square-foot facility no later than June 30.

The new building will be south of Highway 52 and west of Broadway Avenue South/Highway 63 South, just north of the former Fleet Farm property.

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A representative of the Gillette Pepsi-Cola Cos . said Monday the company had to consider leaving the community in its search to relocate its 57-year-old facility in northwest Rochester.

Gillette Pepsi-Cola Cos. are local distributors based in Rochester, Mankato, La Crosse, Wis., and Decorah, Iowa.

"We spent a lot of time looking at different alternatives and deciding where we could possibly build," said Fritz Truax, Gillette Pepsi-Cola Cos. CEO. "To find a ready-build site close to 10 acres at a reasonable price range … was very difficult."

Truax said the Rochester site came at a high cost — $2 million — which is why the company asked for the city's financial assistance.

"Obviously, there are other alternatives outside the city that are less than that," Truax said. "Our owners, and we as a company, would prefer to stay in the city of Rochester, and that's what we're here to talk about."

The council's response keyed on the company's longtime presence in the community and the number of meaningful jobs it provided, at hourly rates of $17 to $20.

"I know what a great – living here my life – what a great community partner they are. They care about a lot of things in our city, which means a lot to me," council member Ed Hruska said.

The council unanimously approved the two actions with little discussion in a public hearing; due to other items on the council's agenda running late, the economic development action did not take place until after 11 p.m. Monday.

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