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Federal project moves another step

Estherville Council OKs non-binding letter of intent

July 18, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

It's been over a year since Jeff Robinson announced on his radio show a federal government project in the works with its first project coming to Estherville. In the year since, updates and information have come slowly but much work has happened behind the scenes, according to Estherville and Emmet County economic director Lyle Hevern.

At Monday evening's council meeting, the Estherville City Council put ink on a letter of intent that moves the project forward a step.

City administrator Penny Clayton said the non-binding letter of intent confirms the current understanding between the company developing the project and the Estherville community. The letter of intent will be negotiated into a legally-binding development agreement within the next 120 days.

A formal agreement will be presented at a later date, Clayton said.

Robinson has said one condition he placed on assisting with investment funding for the project was that Estherville is first in line for developing the project and first in line to choose the size and type of operation from several the development company, USSAF, Inc. has in the works.

USSAF stands for United States Sub-Assembly Facilities. The company is a contractor to the U.S. Army and develops projects that involve many qualified contractors who have the required security clearances to work on the project. Hevern said the company would likely bring in 75 existing workers to the Estherville facility and hire 25 percent locally with a minimum salary around $36,000, an average salary around $65,000 and top management in the six figures, all with federal government benefits, Hevern said.

The city of Estherville is putting up 10 acres of land at no cost to USSAF, and sharing the cost of installing utilities. However, the company is not requesting TIF (tax increment financing) funds to start up. USSAF has pledged to hire up to 200 employees, depending upon the type of manufacturing and technology required.

In other economic development news, Hevern said the Estherville Area Partnership for Growth took a new business owner to tour a local building and the potential new business owners are already talking about finances.

"This is a young couple with five children considering a move to Estherville, with plans for a second business. These are the kinds of people needed in our community," Hevern said.

Hevern said the Partnership's spec house on North 20th Street has stepped up its work with local realtors to show the house more often. The Partnership is planning another open house in the near future and has lowered the price $5,000. Hevern said adding that to a $7,500 grant and tax abatement makes the house a great deal.

The council also addressed two nuisance abatements at residential addresses in Estherville, one of which had already been mostly abated, considered an ordinance amending the Rental Housing Code and one amending the Minimum Housing Code, and granted a request for use of city property, closing streets and other logistics for the Sweet Corn Days committee.



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