AUSTIN EDITION -- Loan option up for public input

By Amy Olson

Members of the public will be invited give input on criteria the Mower County Board hopes to establish for loaning money for economic development.

Board members voted Tuesday to set a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 to get input on the proposal.

County Coordinator Craig Oscarson said the criteria would give the board broad guidelines for deciding which types of economic development projects to undertake.


The county board is considering lending about $2.5 million to the Development Corp. of Austin to construct a 52,000-square-foot building on a 10-acre site in Dexter to lure Oshkosh Truck to expand its manufacturing facilities. The firm owns McNeilus Cos., which manufactures cement-mixer trucks at its plant in Dodge Center. County board member Ray Tucker said the company could lease the building for 10 years, at which point the company could purchase the building.

Officials from Oshkosh Truck have not confirmed any plans for expansion.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.8 million, including necessary infrastructure upgrades such as extending sewer and water service and building a 250,000 gallon water tower for fire protection.

Mower County Attorney Patrick Oman said state law allows counties to loan money for economic development, but approving criteria for awarding business subsidies would give the board more guidance on what to accept or deny.

Oscarson said the criteria under consideration are based on plans used by both the cities of Austin and Albert Lea. Those criteria could take into account how many jobs would be created and what kind of wages would be paid. They could also promote enhancement of economic diversity, retention of jobs where job loss is imminent, stabilization of a community and take ratio of risk-vs.-reward into account.

Board member Richard Cummings said the county would hold individual public hearings on any application it receives.

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