Austin receives over $1.6 million from DEEDS infrastructure grant to further develop Creekside

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

The City of Austin was one of two cities in Minnesota to receive a portion of more than $3.1 million in infrastructure grant funding from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Announced today, Austin will receive $1,650,175 to be used for street and sewer system construction in the Creekside Business Park, which will add 57 acres to the park, as well as provide space for additional businesses to locate in the park.

“This gives us a competitive advantage,” said City Administrator Craig Clark, who said that the city was made aware of the grant in mid-December.

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John Garry, president of the Development Corporation of Austin, added that there are two benefits coming out of this news.

“The first thing is advancing us as far as readiness and as far as projects go,” he said. “Secondly, it lowers the cost to the city, lowers the cost to whoever’s developing the land. That’s key.”

According to Thursday’s announcement, the project is estimated to create 106 jobs and pull in $180 million in private investment from Nu-Tek and Smyth, both of which have facilities located at the park.

“DEED is dedicated to economic development in all cities across Minnesota,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek in Thursday’s release. “Our Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program is one of the many ways we invest in our growing local economies.”

The Austin project is also receiving a $2.2 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a part of the American Rescue Plan and EDA’s $300 million Coal Communities Commitment. The total project cost is $4,375,350.

“We’re certainly hopeful that companies like Nu-Tek will have business opportunities and a co-location of customers,” Clark said, adding that the hope is that Creekside can be turned into a bioscience park. “Just to be able to have lots available, infrastructure so we’re shovel-ready is what we’re hoping for. It opens up 50 acres for development right away and that’s exactly where we are.”

The City of Austin has had development of Creekside on the radar for the last several years. Knowing that the infrastructure will now be in place is a welcome step forward.

“It’s definitely kind of a boost of confidence,” Garry said. “This is going to serve the needs of a wide variety of businesses that might look at this space.”

Garry added that the continued development of Creekside as a bioscience hub is a natural progression because it centers around all of those businesses that Austin is known for, whether that’s Hormel Foods, The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic Health Systems or Riverland Community College, which is developing students for roles in that workforce.

That continued development could start with Nu-Tek.

“It’s kind of an ongoing conversation with Nu-Tek, which is looking for opportunities. That would be the ideal next step, seeing Nu-Tek expand,” Garry said. “We often get leads through the state of Minnesota frequently that would fit the profile of biotech and bioscience.”

Clark said that work is expected to begin and stretch through spring and summer of this year.

Also part of the grant, Lester Prairie is receiving over $1.4 million for construction of a new industrial park that will create lots over 17 acres.

Overall, the funding, awarded from DEED’s Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program (BDPI), is expected to retain or create 211 full-time jobs and leverage $182.5 million in private investment.

The BDPI program awards grants worth up to 50% of eligible capital costs for qualifying public infrastructure projects in communities outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. These projects include streets, wastewater collection and treatment, drinking water, storm sewers and more.