Punctuated by applause from the audience, the Clear Lake City Council enthusiastically approved a development agreement with an unnamed Fortune 100 company Monday night. The business is pursuing construction of a regional warehouse and distribution center that will employ at least 160 people.
According to North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Brent Willett, if Clear Lake is selected construction on a 340,000 square foot facility would start in the spring and last about 18 months.
The Development Agreement was approved with Windmill Realty, LLC for a proposed project in the Larry Luker Memorial Industrial Park, Lots 6 and 7 west of Titan Pro. The agreement includes “annual appropriation” property tax rebate payments not to exceed $7.3 million over a 15 year period. The Development Agreement also provides for a 10 year Forgivable Loan in the amount of $1,675,000.
According to City Administrator Scott Flory, Windmill Realty, LLC serves primarily as an interim “placeholder” for the ultimate occupant and owner of the facility. Upon completion of project construction, the parent company’s identity will be publicly released. Development leaders stressed confidentiality is an important component of the agreement. He said Clear Lake has not been given the final word on its selection for the 340,000 square foot warehouse and distribution facility, but it is positioned well for selection.
Last week it was revealed that Austin, Minn., had also been considered for the distribution center location. Austin’s Community Development Director Craig Hoium told the media that Austin and Clear Lake were the two finalists from an original list of five or six communities in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. According to Hoium, Clear Lake got the nod for the development based upon its proximity to the major transportation system and “long term viability of the project.”
Willett noted there are a number of things that make the Clear Lake site attractive to the company. He says things like a strong transportation network, educated workforce, a very financially stable and responsibly managed city. City officials pointed out the city’s tax rate remains unchanged in fiscal year 2015. It is the fifth straight year the rate has held steady, providing Clear Lake with one of the lowest tax rates in Iowa for cities with a population of greater than 5,000 in population.
The Development Agreement approved Monday imposes certain employment requirements, including establishing and maintaining a workforce of not less than 164 fulltime employees, with minimum average annual salaries of $39,000, by no later than Oct. 1, 2018. Total annual payroll may not be less than $6.5 million.
The agreement also specifies the minimum property tax base to be created as the result of the