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Knute Nelson to expand, add jobs

Amidst a slowing state economy, an expanding health care industry has been a bright spot for Minnesota business.

Locally, key developments are helping fuel Alexandria's economic growth.

Senior living and care provider Knute Nelson announced Wednesday it plans to build a new 40-acre campus in Alexandria.

Plans are to develop a site directly across from the new potential high school located on Pioneer Road.

Construction on the multi-phased project is set to begin next spring.

The first phase will feature a 131-unit senior housing complex offering independent living residences, general and advanced assisted living facilities and Alzheimer's/memory care assisted living.

The new campus will be built around a town center-style building, which will house a salon, theater, chapel/great room, wellness center and other amenities.

"Our longtime mission has been to serve the Alexandria community, specifically through older adult services" said Knute Nelson CEO Mark Anderson. "By this campus we are going to continue to expand that mission."

Currently, Knute Nelson provides services for about 1,000 Alexandria residents, twice what it did 10 years ago.

Anderson said he expects that trend to continue, with the number of seniors 55 and older in the county projected to double by 2030.

"We wanted enough property to meet the needs of the community in the future," he said.

The new campus will expand gradually, Anderson said, as demand for services increase.

Hospital expands

Construction begins today on Douglas County Hospital's new four-floor, 100,000 square-foot expansion.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the $31 million addition is schedule for 8:30 a.m. near the hospital's helipad.

The state-of-the-art facility, which will be built onto the southeast side of the hospital, will feature a new orthopaedic clinic, maternity ward and 34 private patient rooms.

Adding the extra rooms will allow the hospital to convert all its patient rooms to private rooms.

As part of the project, the hospital will also re-locate its heliport, add 120 new parking spaces and construct a new lobby and main hospital entrance.

The project was financed with $26.2 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds and $4.8 million in hospital cash reserves.

No local tax dollars were used to pay for the expansion.

Construction is set to be complete by March 2010.