New Great River Energy website advertises loans

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2012 - 1:49 PM

The company hopes publicizing the little-known funds will spur businesses trying to move or expand.

As part of a push to lure businesses and jobs to Minnesota, Great River Energy launched a new website Tuesday that will raise awareness of loan funds and sources for raw materials in the state.

The new website will expand Great River's economic development mission. In the last 12 months, Great River contributed about $3.8 million in 0 percent loans to nine businesses looking to relocate or expand in Minnesota.

If successful, the Maple Grove company that is composed of 28 electric co-ops and 650,000 accounts will attract a wide variety of manufacturers, data centers and other companies to the state and help them tap funds offered by Great River Energy, co-op members, cities, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Some of the loans, grants and incentives listed under the site are expected to help businesses buy energy-efficient equipment, make energy improvements, tackle sizeable expansion projects and bring jobs to the state. Many of the programs have existed for years, but not many businesses and communities know about them, officials said.

With the new website, "We would expect to do about $5 million a year in activity" through 15 to 20 deals, said Tom Lambrecht, Great River's economic development director.

He added that his group works closely with state and federal officials to help spread the word about its services.

Loans spur job creation

Last year, Great River helped Agco secure a USDA Rural Economic Development Loan worth $740,000. That helped Agco relocate a large tractor-cab plant from France to Jackson, which created more than 100 jobs in Minnesota.

Great River also helped Sage Electro Chromix get USDA approval on a $740,000 loan that will help the company build a $220 million high-tech window-manufacturing plant in Faribault. The closing of that loan is still pending, said Great River Energy spokesman Randy Fordice.

If the site, www.econdev.greatriverenergy.com/MNCooperativeSites, gains traction, it could create the traffic and job creation that state officials crave.

This spring, Gov. Mark Dayton launched a program to push local manufacturers to export their goods so they can create 100,000 jobs here by 2017.

'Huge response'

In a separate announcement Tuesday, Mark Phillips, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said that the state's Capital Projects Grant Program received 90 applications requesting $288.4 million in funding. But only $47.5 million in bond funding is available this year and the application process is now closed.

Grant winners will be chosen based on the job creation promised by the projects. That selection process will take a few weeks "given the huge response to the program," Phillips said.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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