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Ready for new business

Echo Press photo by Al Edenloff Alexandria's Heritage Business Park is designated as "Shovel Ready" and has 16 available lots.

Alexandria is ready for new businesses to come into town.

It's one of four Minnesota cities that's been certified for the "Shovel Ready" program through the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

This means the city has prime sites for businesses to move into virtually hassle-free. The planning, zoning, environmental studies, title work, public infrastructure and other pre-construction activities have already been completed.

Shovel Ready sites are attractive to companies that want to move quickly with plans to start up, relocate or expand their opportunities, according to DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy.

"Shovel Ready certification is a popular tool for city officials who want to bring new business development to their communities," he said. "Sites that have been identified as Shovel Ready have a competitive edge over other sites that don't have the designation."

DEED launched the program last year. The latest certifications were awarded to Alexandria, Cambridge, Monticello and Big Lake.

Alexandria's Shovel Ready site is the 106-acre Heritage Business Park adjacent to Interstate 94 on the south side of the city.

It's a mixed-use site for commercial and manufacturing entities that is also designated to offer tax incentives through the state's Job Opportunity Building Zone (JOBZ) program.

The Indigo Plaza office-warehouse complex and the Heritage Transport, Inc. trucking firm are already located in the park.

The park was developed through a public-private partnership with owners Tim and Karen Wagner.

"It's important to do everything you can to strengthen your location and the Shovel Ready designation helps us accomplish that," said Jason Murray, executive director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC). "We wanted to show our support for Tim and Karen's investment in the business park."

Tim Wagner said the public/private partnership in developing the business park worked well. He said there are about 16 lots available.

Businesses that are interested in the Heritage Business Park sites may contact Wagner at (320) 760-2057.

For more information about the Shovel Ready program or AAEDC assistance, contact Murray at (320) 763-4545.

DEED is the state's principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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