The visit comes after a string of successful modular projects
and rising public interest in how modular can address affordable housing
(MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA) Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan were welcomed by the RISE Modular leadership team to tour its Owatonna manufacturing facility and to learn more about volumetric modular construction and how it is bringing innovation to multifamily housing construction. The visit followed their meeting with local Owatonna business leaders to discuss the creation of career pathways and connecting workersto good-paying jobs, which meant that questions about workforce development opportunities at RISE were top of their list.
“Volumetric modular construction is a manufacturing process, and because of that our jobs are more accessible to a more diverse set of workers, many of whom would never have pursued a quality job in conventional construction,” said Christian Lawrence, founder and CEO of RISE Modular. “Our workers commute to the same jobsite every day and it is 100 percent climate controlled. Their work is at the same station, and it is easier work due to automation and repeatability. It is technical, sophisticated work that is ergonomically designed to support the workers, and the overall work environment is safer.”
The governor and lieutenant governor were also interested in how modular can be used to address the affordable housing crisis and sustainability. Modular construction has proven advantages in both areas, and results in projects that can be completed faster and more cost-effectively and that have lower energy consumption and less material waste. It’s also ideal for urban infill projects because it doesn’t require space for material storage and results in less disruption to the surrounding neighborhood.
It is important for the governor’s office and other policymakers to understand volumetric modular since the State Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for the inspection of each module constructed in the RISE manufacturing facility. In traditional construction, local municipalities are responsible for all aspects of building inspections. Efficient processes and clear roles and responsibilities between State and local agencies are important to expanding modular construction throughout the state.
“RISE Modular is bringing the benefits of volumetric modular to Minnesota and expanding its use throughout the Midwest, and this is something the State needs to get behind,” said Governor Walz. “As modular construction proves it can address the many challenges the commercial real estate industry is facing — supply chain issues, an aging labor force and labor shortages, rising material costs — by providing true innovation in job creation, sustainable construction, and housing affordability, the State can come alongside to champion its continued development.”
During Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan’s tenure, manufacturing in Minnesota has experienced gains in both exports and job creation. RISE itself has been a significant job creator, growing from 28 employees in September 2019 to 165 employees in July 2022. In 2021, the company completed 202 units (301 modules) and in 2022 they are set to “deliver 449 units (436 modules), a 55-percent increase.
The governor’s visit comes a week after RISE celebrated the groundbreaking of its sixth project since 2019. Located in Minneapolis’ Harrison neighborhood just two blocks from a future light rail station, Glenwood Apartments is a great example of how modular opens pathways to more innovative housing product. Within its 127 units, Glenwood Apartments will offer both market-rate and workforce housing with 65 units available to those below 80 percent of area median income, including 10 units available to those below 60 percent of area median income.
Lawrence credits both the benefits and efficiencies of the RISE modular product and the company’s partnership with New York-based Enterprise Community Partners for bringing this mixed-use redevelopment in an Opportunity Zone to fruition, and he isn’t the only one to hope it can be repeated. In a speech at the Glenwood Apartments groundbreaking, Minneapolis Mayor Frey expressed his resounding appreciation for the project and the RISE Modular process.
“When someone shows you a vision for a more sustainable, more cost-effective, faster solution to housing development, that is a vision you want to follow,” said Mayor Frey. “What RISE Modular and Enterprise Community Partners have done with Glenwood Apartments is astounding. It’s a beautiful vision that we should all get behind – and a model I want to see RISE replicate again and again.”
About RISE Modular
RISE Modular is a full-service commercial volumetric modular manufacturing and construction firm revolutionizing the traditional stick-building process to meet the need for faster, safer, higher quality and more cost-consistent, sustainable construction solutions from its Owatonna, Minn. manufacturing facility. RISE Modular is advancing the modular paradigm by utilizing the best in emerging technology and an integrated team approach to deliver highly flexible and custom-designed multi-story housing and hospitality projects that meet a wide range of market and client needs. In 2022, RISE was named Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal and Minne Inno’s Start-up of the Year. For more information, visit www.risemodular.com
About Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise is a national nonprofit that exists to make a good home possible for the millions of families without one. We support community development organizations on the ground, aggregate and invest capital for impact, advance housing policy at every level of government, and build and manage communities ourselves. Since 1982, we have invested $54 billion and created 873,000 homes across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – all to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging. Join us at enterprisecommunity.org.
For interviews with the RISE Modular and /or other members of the Glenwood Apartments development team, please contact Ella Carlsson, Red Mood Marketing, 612.805.0572, firstname.lastname@example.org.