Yesterday we talked about the diverse manufacturing abilities and vibrate small business community located in Blooming Prairie, Minnesota.
If you are looking to launch an industrial or commercial business, Blooming Prairie has the space. There currently are several existing structures on the town’s main street that could be used for commercial purposes.
If your needs are more manufacturing in nature, there is not one, but two areas with acreage available for development in Blooming Prairie. The prime industrial space is located in the northeast section of town along Industrial Drive NE. Currently, three parcels of land are open for development of about six total acres.
The northeast industrial park has strong infrastructure capabilities. “Blooming Prairie has some of the best infrastructure capability and quality that I’ve seen in a town of this size. …We really have really strong public utilities here,” said Tom Monson, Economic Development Coordinator with the City of Blooming Prairie. This northeast park is close to an electrical substation, even allowing for redundant power supply.
There is a second industrial region in the southeast portion of town; recent extension of 4th Street SE opened up some additional land for industrial development. Blooming Prairie also has private commercial and industrial property that is currently zoned as agricultural but could be re-zoned as industrial.
Blooming Prairie has the land for business development. Plus, they have the development incentives. The City of Blooming Prairie utilizes incentivized land sales and a revolving loan fund, which provides gap financing with area lenders or other lenders of choice. Like other towns, Blooming Prairie also offers tax abatement and tax increment financing (TIF).
“The city tends to not, unless it’s a very specific project, tends to not use the tax incentives as much as their other programs,” explained Tom.
Besides their small city specific programs, Blooming Prairie also works with the state of Minnesota to aid home grown businesses. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) in particular has many business and workforce development incentives.
Workforce is a huge focus right now and a concern for many employers. Some of the more popular MN DEED incentives offer rebates for businesses creating ten or more local jobs. Another program, the Minnesota Investment Fund, is an intermediary loan program that provides financing to retain high quality jobs. Besides workforce retention, workforce development is also a key issue in the state. Initiatives like the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership and Job Training Incentive Program link together companies with educational institutions to develop job training curriculum for skilled workforce generation.
Blooming Prairie has the jobs and the incentives to bring businesses to town, now they just have to find a place to house this new workforce. Reasonably priced entry level housing is a hot issue in Blooming Prairie right now. The housing market in town has seen a slow recovery after the recession and new construction is not really a source of affordable entry-level housing for Blooming Prairie residents. There is single and multi-family housing areas either zoned or platted in southern Blooming Prairie, but the most affordable solutions for an incoming workforce would come from the existing housing stock. However, these accommodations need to be freed up potentially through construction of senior housing.
Whatever the issues may be, Blooming Prairie is a real gem of rural Minnesota. The core essence of the town is unique. It’s even ingrained in the town’s blueprint.
“Everything about this town is just very much, it has just a very cool feel of individuality to it that I think really speaks to me as a young person. It’s one of those qualitative things that is intangible,” explained Tom.
Blooming Prairie is definitely strange, but in that nuanced sense that makes it great. Even awesome. Like the Awesome Blossom, the mascot of Blooming Prairie Public School System. The Awesome Blossom is basically a generic blossom- with muscles, of course- and is the second most unique high school mascot in the United States. Apparently Chicago gangster Al Capone frequented Blooming Prairie during the Prohibition era, leaving the town peppered with underground tunnels and secret meeting rooms. Who knew? The town mayor, Harold Peterson, prefers to go by a single letter and is more commonly known as ‘H’. The town has a spring-fed community pool. Pine Springs Swimming Pool, which was originally constructed in 1961, is fed from an underground natural spring, although the pool water is chlorinated for sanitary purposes.
The unique flavor of Blooming Prairie is even embedded in the town footprint. US Highway 218 splits Blooming Prairie it at an angle, making the town appear to be laid out on a diagonal.
Blooming Prairie is a place to have a high quality of a professional and personal life. The town houses a collaborative business environment plus offers a more relaxed lifestyle than can be found in bigger cities.
Besides the community pool, Blooming Prairie has an ice rink, country club, and five different parks. The town has also retained its own school system.
“It’s easy to find things to do. And it’s also easy to not do anything,” explained Mayor H.
Generally speaking, Blooming Prairie is a safe place to live where neighbors still look out for neighbors. Mayor H has been a part of the Blooming Prairie community for fifty years, previously teaching in the local school system. He’s seen many of his students move back to town over the years.
“And part if why they’ve moved back is to raise their children and because they got sick of what they say is the rat race of living in the large city. I mean to get away from the commuting. To get away from all of the incredible numbers of things that are demanded of you. This is a much more relaxed style of living which is very appealing,” said H.