Hormel Foods planning data center in BP

Published 11:10 am Thursday, January 17, 2013

By Ashley Stewart

Owatonna People’s Press

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — This spring, Hormel will take its first steps into Steele County in the Blooming Prairie Industrial Park.

Email newsletter signup

The Blooming Prairie City Council approved a development agreement with Hormel Foods Corp. Monday evening at its monthly council meeting.

Rick Williamson, manager of external communications at Hormel, said the company will be building a new data center. The center won’t have anyone working there, but instead will act as a safeguard against a natural disaster or other events that could destroy the company’s information technology systems, which are currently located in Austin.

“The new data center will host our IT production environment,” Williamson said.

According to the development agreement, the company plans to build an 8,800-square-foot concrete, precast building with a security fence, with construction slated to begin in May and finish in early 2014.

City administrator Mike Jones said the new building isn’t expected to bring new jobs to the southeastern part of the county.

“Our benefit is getting a new state-of-the-art facility and company in our city,” Jones said. “The exposure our community will receive is such an asset. This is a great big deal.”

But Mayor H. Peterson said the additional commercial tax base the company will create will benefit the community as well as the school district.

“Small towns need a big tax base to counteract the cost of residential taxes,” Peterson said. “Everyone’s taxes will go down a bit.”

Peterson said the new facility will also bring additional commerce to the Blooming Prairie community.

“Just like when Oak Glen Wind Farm was being built, we benefited from the workers coming to town for lunch,” he said.

Hormel received two lots from the city for free, at a value of $2,500 per lot. Jones said the lots originally were valued at $9,000 each, but based on a points program the city has, it was reduced to $2,500 per lot. Points are given to the company based on a number of variables, including acres purchased, if the tax base is more than $400,000, construction time, how many employees are being brought to the city and growth potential.

Jones said the commercial tax base and the company’s large purchase of commercial electricity will benefit the community beyond the value of the land given to Hormel.

Peterson said discussions with Hormel began in October of 2012. Hormel asked the city to keep the news quiet until a final decision was made.

Jones said the Blooming Prairie lots had everything the company was looking for.

However, before Hormel can begin construction, the city needs to remove 20-foot easements located between the two lots in the industrial park. The city council set a public hearing for the removal of the easements at 6:50 p.m. on Feb. 11.

The Hormel data center will join Metal Services Inc., BioPlastic Solutions, Extreme Powder Coating, Tandem Products Inc. as well as others in the city’s industrial park, which is located on the northeast part of the city.

“This is great for Blooming Prairie,” Peterson said.

A Hormel representative was scheduled to make a presentation Monday evening at the city council meeting, but was unable to attend. Jones said the company may make a presentation at a future meeting, but for now, he isn’t sure.