We are living a piece of history right now in Rochester. The Destination Medical Center and Journey to Growth Initiatives will bring drastic growth and change to the city. However, it’s easy to forget that Rochester is not the only population center that will benefit from these development proposals.
A few weeks ago, I participated in a pilot regional bus tour through Community Economic Development Associates (CEDA) and Journey to Growth. We sat on the bus, on what ended up being close to a 100 degree July day, drove around southeast Minnesota, and explored the economic development opportunities in these areas. That day we made stops in Stewartville, Blooming Prairie, Dodge Center, and Byron. The trip was a real eye opening experience. There are many opportunities right at our fingertips in the southeastern Minnesota community, which many people do not fully appreciate.
Join us in an article series over the next couple of weeks as we explore the capabilities and offerings of these four communities in southeast Minnesota. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
Our first stop on the tour is Stewartville.
Stewartville is the closest, large population center to Rochester. About 6,200 people call the town home. Stewartville, arguably, is best poised to benefit from Rochester’s growth outside of the city limits.
It’s all about location with Stewartville. The town is only ten miles from Rochester. Just drive south on 63 and keep going. You’ll get to Stewartville before that coffee gets cold.
Stewartville is central to many locations beyond Rochester. It’s close to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Madison, and Ames. The town is only 25 miles from the Iowa border. There’s easy access to major roadways like Interstate 90, US Highway 63, and Minnesota Highway 30. Stewartville is only 3 miles from the Rochester International Airport.
Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Stewartville Mayor Jimmie-John King and City Administrator Bill Schimmel to hear why people should be looking toward Stewartville and the opportunities within that city’s limits.
The Mayor and City Administrator emphasized the high quality of life in Stewartville. The town has five parks, once of which is an aquatic center. The newest push is development of Bear Cave Park in the northwest corner of Stewartville. When it is complete, Bear Cave will have baseball diamonds, park shelters, a public disc golf course, a band shell, and miles of hiking and bike trails.
Stewartville just built a brand new school for grades three through five across from the park, called Bear Cave Intermediate School. The Stewartville School System itself is fantastic. This past year, the district exceeded the statewide average on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.
The city also has an active theater program. The Stewartville Community Education Theatre just wrapped up a production of the Broadway musical Cats over the weekend.
Stewartville has housing needs for all ranges and there’s a push to building even more housing in the town, especially in the northern portions. The median house price is $155K and median rent is $800 a month.
The town is not only an excellent place to live with a high quality of life, it also is a first rate place to do business. One major employer in town, Halcon, is a family owned and operated business that manufactures and distributes wooden office furniture on a worldwide scale. Geotek, another larger employer, manufactures pultruded fiberglass.
Bard Medical, a leading supplier of vascular, urology, and oncology medical devices, was the previous largest employer in Stewartville. The medical device company recently exited the town, leaving behind three facilities, which are now up for sale.
The first Bard property available is a very new manufacturing building, constructed only in 2014. This 57,500 square foot building is outfitted for manufacturing or medical device production. The second available property is a light manufacturing facility of a slightly larger 66,000 square feet. The final Bard facility for sale is a 39,000 square foot industrial manufacturing facility.
Look for more information about the Bard properties in the upcoming weeks.
Beyond these large businesses, the Stewartville School and Olmsted Medical Systems employ many Stewartville residents. The global headquarters of Jimmy’s Salad Dressings also calls the town home.
The most important thing about Stewartville: they are not afraid to get creative to attract and keep people and companies in the town. Stewartville actively invests in its businesses.
Stewartville has a very effective Economic Development Association with several financial initiatives to keep people and businesses in the city. The EDA has a Revolving Loan Fund, which provides gap financing to qualifying new and existing businesses. Stewartville also offers a Downtown Redevelopment Program, awarding up to a $25,000 forgivable loan to property owners zoned in the Central Business District. The city implements a façade program and finder’s fee initiative, awarding 5% compensation for real estate agents who sell properties in city-owned commercial and industrial lots.
Did you know that Stewartville has three commercial and industrial business parks with acreage for purchase? Check back next week for the details about the Schumann, Bucknell, and Tebay Parks.