The Cloquet City Council was more than willing to agree to sell a plot of land to support Upper Lakes Foods in Cloquet at its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Upper Lakes Foods requested to purchase 1.17-acres of land, valued at $20,000, from the city to use as additional parking for trucks and trailers.
Holly Hansen, Cloquet’s community development director, brought the proposal to the council and said the council could help a business that has been in Cloquet since 1981.
“The city is currently not using the property for anything in particular, so it certainly could be a natural expansion,” she said.
While Upper Lakes Foods has offices in other cities, the bulk of its employees are located in the headquarters in Cloquet. Hansen said the Cloquet office has over 200 employees.
The need for the added space came from a change in business model during the pandemic, according to a letter submitted by Upper Lakes Foods President Susan Ryan.
“As restaurants and schools were forced to close, we were able to deploy drivers into our newly created (over-the-road) model to deliver various goods across the United States,” she said in the letter.
City administrator Tim Peterson said this industry is a part of Cloquet’s history and the city should help them out when given the opportunity.
“There is beauty with industry on the riverfront,” he said. “This is an easy way to support a local business that is a great part of the community.”
Ward 3 Councilor Chris Swanson asked Hansen about the city’s planning for the riverfront and development projects for the future.
Hansen said the city needs to recognize there are legacy issues across the entire southern riverfront area.
“The northern riverfront is our park, our trail, it has a little bit more diversity, maybe more opportunity,” she said. “Today we are supporting the businesses that are here. Long-term should we be planning on the north side of the river? Perhaps.”
Before the sale is complete, the planning commission will still see the proposal, Hansen said, as she didn’t want to bring it to the planning commission first before she knew if the city was interested in selling the land.