Commerce industrial park development update

City Council and key city staff began the development of Commerce Industrial Park in 2017 with the assistance of a competitive Business Development Public Infrastructure $2 million grant from the State of Minnesota (DEED) to help fund the total infrastructure costs of approximately $4 million. The project will extend road, water main, storm and sanitary sewer service to a 136.06-acre site. The process takes a minimum of two years from start to finish.

One strategy for business recruitment or expansion is to create an industrial park that is shovel-ready. Shovel-ready sites are in growing demand among companies and site selection consultants. This site designation is a way for businesses to mitigate risk because they have all the facts right in front of them.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), shovel-ready sites give communities a competitive edge in attracting new business and industry, start-ups, expansions, or relocations because the most time-consuming, technical and regulatory aspects of the development are already complete. This typically means the site has had all the planning, zoning, surveys, title work, environmental studies, soils analysis and public infrastructure engineering completed prior to putting it up for sale and are usually under legal control of a community or other third party.

Not all industrial park land is created equal. Site selectors look at several factors including utility load availability and service capacities, access to transportation, proximity to local and regional markets or suppliers, pull factor, ability to attract and retain employees, to name a few. One of the biggest trends in site selection has been the shift from “show me the land” to “show me the talent.” Site selectors are increasingly focused on workforce availability and unemployment rates in any given area, as well as the ability to attract employees to live in the community – so they look at schools, civic organizations, quality of life data, and other social factors. Our Marshall Area EDA report compiles all the information into one marketing piece and has been an invaluable marketing tool.

As far as exposure, we are increasing online presence on many national site selection websites, as well as presence on our local and regional websites and social media. An added important financial factor, Commerce Park is located within the U.S. Federally designated Opportunity Zone, which provides unique tax incentives to investors or developers – this differentiates Marshall from many other communities.

Commerce Industrial Park isn’t simply just “land for sale,” it is so much more than that. Commerce Industrial Park will play a significant role in our community’s economic future. By having this site shovel-ready, increasing our online marketing, and being in an Opportunity Zone, this enhances our probabilities of attracting new development. In addition, our location on the intersections of Highways 68, 59, 23, and 19 is an asset.

We are fortunate that Marshall is well-positioned for growth, just as the area with Beverage Wholesalers, Ralco, Action Manufacturing, Schwans, and Runnings was once bare ground, Commerce Industrial Park, with time, will become a prosperous area and a significant community asset.

— Tara Onken is Economic Development Authority director for the city of Marshall.