Biotech center groundbreaking expected this year

By Heather J. Carlson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

PINE ISLAND — Construction on a proposed biotechnology center in the city is expected to start by the end of the year.

Tower Investments announced this week that the company plans to break ground on the Biotechnology Center at Elk Run in the fourth quarter. The 40,000-square-foot facility would be part of the massive Elk Run Development along U.S. 52. Plans for the project include a bioscience park, healthy-living campus, housing and commercial space.

The developer’s announcement comes after the Pine Island City Council approved annexing 1,283 acres of the 2,300-acre project into the city. The remaining acres would be annexed into the city within the next seven years, said City Administrator Abraham Algadi.


"It’s definitely a giant step in the right direction," Algadi said.

The annexation must receive final approval from the state, although Algadi said that is primarily a formality. The annexation has boosted the city’s size from 3.5 square miles to 5.6 square miles. Once all the land is annexed for the Elk Run project, it will have doubled the city’s size.

The recent annexation came despite opposition from some residents concerned that the project is a potentially costly gamble that could hurt the old downtown and require major tax increases to provide city services to the area.

The Elk Run project has already benefited from some state support. In February, the MInnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded Pine Island $600,000 to help cover infrastructure cost for the biobusiness development. The city plans to apply for $3.4 million in funds set aside by the Legislature this session for bioscience development. The money would be used to help extend water and sewer to the Elk Run development.

In a news release, Tower Investments Senior Vice President Alex Marks said the project will be a boost to the region.

"Our goal is for Elk Run to bolster the area economically, attracting new business and bringing jobs to the area," he said. "We look forward to continued collaboration with the Pine Island administration, business leaders and residents of this great community."

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