Owatonna: at the crossroads


The southern Minnesota city is experiencing a business development boom. It’s not by accident.

On Nov. 5, the voters of Owatonna approved a $104 million bond issue to construct a new high school. For this southern Minnesota city, the vote signifies something more than an up-to-date school building. It also represents a major investment in their community’s economic future.

Owatonna’s businesses understand the crucial importance of that investment. Contingent on the referendum’s passage, several companies have pledged a combined $30 million toward the school’s construction. The donors include Wenger Corp., which manufactures a variety of products for arts performances; architectural glass manufacturer Viracon; and Mayo Clinic Health System-Owatonna. The largest contribution comes from Federated Insurance, at $20 million. Federated also purchased and donated the nearly 88-acre plot of land at the southeast corner of the city on U.S. Highway 14 where the high school will be constructed.

“We’ve believed for a long, long time that quality education is a major factor in attracting people to live and work in the Owatonna community,” says Jeff Fetters, Federated’s chairman and CEO.

In a sense, the new high school represents the culmination of a remarkable development boom that Owatonna has been experiencing in the past year:

  • The largest project in the current wave is the 354,000-square-foot facility that big-box retailer Costco has been constructing. The new structure will serve as Costco’s distribution center in the Upper Midwest.
  • Plymouth-based HVAC system manufacturer Daikin Applied is building a 150,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center. This will nearly double the company’s existing 200,000-square-foot Owatonna facility.
  • Blooming Prairie-based Minimizer, which produces polyethylene heavy-truck fenders, broke ground on a new headquarters and manufacturing facility in November.
  • Bushel Boy Farms, whose headquarters is in Owatonna, is constructing a 175,000-square-foot research and development facility.
  • Revol Greens, located a few miles north in Medford, is quadrupling the size of its climate-controlled greenhouse, where it grows salad greens for a variety of markets.
  • Rise Modular, a Minneapolis-based startup that designs modular units for apartments and hotels, will begin manufacturing its products early this year in an existing facility in Owatonna’s industrial park. They create modular units, or prefabricated sections of a building, designed to be interconnected into a finished structure.

Read the entire article at Twin Cities Business.

RISE Modular Twin Cities Busines