Development projects gain groundEven in the midst of tough economic times, new development appears to be on the horizon around Carlton County. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Carlton County Board, commissioners approved two economic development loans that will help support new business and development projects in both Scanlon and Cloquet.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Even in the midst of tough economic times, new development appears to be on the horizon around Carlton County. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Carlton County Board, commissioners approved two economic development loans that will help support new business and development projects in both Scanlon and Cloquet.
Board members voted in favor of granting a loan to Gary Peterson of Esko to assist with the startup of Trapper Pete’s Restaurant in a building formerly occupied by Seasons Restaurant in Scanlon. The loan is in the amount of $40,000 at a rate of 6 percent interest with a 15-year amortization.
County Economic Development Director Pat Oman explained to commissioners that approval of the loan was recommended by a vote of 6-2 by members of the Carlton County Economic Development Advisory Committee (CCEDAC). Oman explained a few of the members of the committee had reservations because the building has had four owners in the last 10 years and there was concern over past building issues, but he added there are compelling reasons to believe that this would be “a good loan to approve.”
He explained that Peterson formerly operated the Congress Bar in the Twin Ports, and he not only has experience in the restaurant business but he is also a certified contractor who understands building construction.
In a second request, Oman asked commissioners to consider an economic development loan in the amount of $100,000 to Blackhoof Development for the construction of an apartment building on 14th Street across from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. The loan would carry an interest rate of 5 percent with a 25-year amortization schedule and would be used toward the construction of just one of the five buildings proposed for the 20,000-square-foot multifamily complex.
Oman explained that primary financing for the project will come through AgStar, and the county portion would be considered as gap financing to assist in getting the project started.
Members of CCEDAC unanimously supported the request, and members of the board approved it.
Oman clarified that the county’s guidelines for issuing economic development loans require that a proposed project must reflect: 1) a direct economic development benefit to the community; 2) the creation of new property tax revenue; or 3) the creation of new jobs in the county.
He pointed out that both of the projects applying for county economic loans at this time conform to these guidelines.
In a related measure, he requested that the board further refine its criteria to specify that county economic development loans can only be granted prior to the construction of a new project and not as an add-on after the fact. The board endorsed the measure.
In further news on the development front, the board approved purchase offers for two pieces of property located within the city of Cloquet that will help pave the way for the construction of the proposed Community Services Building. The purchase offers, which are subject to review by the county attorney, involve a parcel at 1202 Avenue B owned by the proprietor of the business formerly known as the Golden Token, as well as a parcel currently occupied by Cloquet Dry Cleaners at 1301 Avenue C. The proposed purchase price is $125,000 for the Cloquet Cleaners parcel and $140,000 for the Golden Token parcel. The board approved both purchase offers.
In other business to come before the board, a public hearing date was set for the updated 5-year road construction plan, to be held at 6:30 p.m.Tuesday, March 3, at the Carlton County Transportation Building on Old Highway 61 in rural Carlton.