Ecolab and its foundation will invest more than $2 million on a new beautification project outside its headquarters, essentially creating another small park in downtown St. Paul.
The area that will be converted to 26,000 square feet of green space is now mainly concrete and asphalt in front of Ecolab's headquarters and between the Landmark Center and the Hamm Building, the company announced Sunday at a community event commemorating its 100th anniversary.
Ecolab will start construction on phase one of the project. The city of St. Paul and the St. Paul Conservancy will be responsible for the second phase. Ecolab owns a small portion of the property, and multiple city departments own the rest.
Ecolab and the city still have details to iron out, including final design of the park, before construction can begin. Once the deal is finalized, Ecolab will start the first part of construction, which should last three months.
The city does not yet have a cost estimate for the second phase or ongoing maintenance, officials said Sunday. The completed project is expected to be open to the public in early 2024.
Ecolab, a longtime booster of development in downtown St. Paul, moved in 2017 to its current headquarters, a 17-story tower formerly housing the Travelers Cos.
Scores of Ecolab employees and guests — including Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum with a certificate of recognition from the House of Representatives — attended the celebration in Rice Park to kick off Ecolab's 100th anniversary celebrations.
"St. Paul is where our values and dreams come from," Ecolab Chief Executive Christophe Beck said, kicking off the event in swirling snow, to the cheering crowd.
Rice Park was decked out with Ecolab-themed booths, including cockroach races sponsored by the company's pest-fighting business, and food and games — plus a 100th anniversary ice sculpture.
Company founder Merritt Osborn made his first sale on March 10, 1923.
Ecolab started as a two-person company selling a carpet cleaning product. Now, the company is one of the largest makers of sanitation and water purification products and operates in 170 countries. It employs about 47,000 people.
"Today, as a global company operating in more than 170 countries, we celebrate 100 years of growth by honoring our humble beginnings and the ongoing connection between our people, our communities and our environment," Beck said.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter was ill and could not attend the event but sent his regards.
"For a century now, the growth and success of our city and Ecolab have been entwined," Carter said in the news release announcing the $2 million gift. "I congratulate the company on reaching an impressive milestone and am proud to support a plan that creates a new, open space for all of us to enjoy."