The supply of industrial space has tightened in Dakota County, prompting developers to move ahead with plans for new industrial building projects.

Opus Development Corp. has a site in Eagan under contract and preliminary plans for up to 250,000 square feet of industrial space. Dave Menke, senior vice president with Opus, said the new buildings would replace small buildings on the site on Hwy. 13 near Blackhawk Road.

In Inver Grove Heights, United Properties is reviving plans for the InverPoint Business Park at Hwy. 55 and Barnes Avenue. United expects to begin work this summer on a 130,000-square-foot building that would be the first of five in the business park.

United has owned the site since 2007 and had its plans approved by the city in 2008.

Unlike Opus, which would begin work on its Eagan building after securing an anchor tenant, United now will move ahead with InverPoint on a speculative basis.

Brandon Champeau, an assistant vice president with United Properties, noted that the market for industrial space has tightened considerably in the past few years.

"With the recession there was very little building going on. Like a lot of developers, we've been monitoring the market and feel like it's gotten to a point where there's a quite a bit of demand coming from companies that want to expand," he said.

In the southeast market, an area that includes Dakota County, the vacancy rate for industrial space is currently about 11 percent, a substantial drop from 20-plus percent during the depths of the recession, Champeau said. He said large blocks of space are especially hard to come by.

BTD expands in Lakeville

BTD, a custom metalworking company, recently increased its presence in Lakeville by adding a third location with 100,000 square feet.

The company has previously employed 125 people in Lakeville and will be hiring an unspecified number of new workers for the new facility in Airlake Industrial Park.

BTD's metalwork services include metal fabrication, tool and die work, prototyping, laser cutting for a variety of manufacturers, including Minnesota-based companies such as Toro, Polaris and Pentair.

BTD is headquartered and has production facilities in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Its other plants are in Otsego and in Washington, Ill.

New sign maker opens

Precision Signs & Imaging, a full-service sign manufacturing company, recently opened in Burnsville. The business is the brainchild of Lakeville resident John Swaney, who established the firm after spending 25 years as a senior manager in the hospitality industry.

The new business designs, produces and installs a wide variety of signs for building exteriors and interiors. It also makes vehicle wraps and works with clients on branding, logo design and brand identity.

An official grand opening of the business at 12227 Nicollet Av. S. has been planned for May 30.

Intertech, Pawn America up for award

Eagan-based Intertech Inc. and Burnsville-based Pawn America are among 29 finalists for this year's Ernst&Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Award for Upper Midwest businesses. Intertech, a software and technical training firm, and Pawn America were founded in 1991.

The finalists were selected by a panel of independent judges from nominated companies in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. The winner will be announced at a June 13 event at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center.