A southern Minnesota producer of hydroponic – water grown – tomatoes is looking to expand into Iowa, according to Mason City's mayor.
Mayor Bill Schickel announced on Facebook in his "Monday Minute," that Bushel Boy, based out of Owatonna, Minnesota, is proposing to build a $35 million facility in the city's industrial park south of 43rd Street Southwest and east of Pierce Avenue.
The project would sit on 80 acres and, if approved by the city, will bring in about 50 jobs, according to Schickel.
The city council on Tuesday night will look at approving an application for a Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy grant from the state Department of Transportation to construct a two-lane road serving as frontage for the proposed facility and intersecting 43rd Street.
The estimated cost of the road and accompanying storm sewer is $1.1 million, according to the city council meeting packet. If the RISE application is approved by the DOT, the state will fund 80 percent of the project. The city will still be expected to pay about $223,000 for the remaining 20 percent. The city will also have to extend water and sewer to the area. That money will come from the city's Tax Increment Financing account, according to the council packet.
City Administrator Aaron Burnett said that construction would be a bit easier because it's an open area and accessibility is easier there.
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Burnett also stated that a RISE Grant application is typically made near the end of a project.
Bushel Boy President Steve Irland said the 29-year-old business is still considering offers but the promise of new facilities to open in is exciting because the company employs a lot of newer technology as well as more conventional agricultural methods.
Irland added that Mason City has courted the company aggressively and city officials have been easy to work with. On top of that, Irland also singled out the availability of utilities offered in the Mason City proposal.
The business previously expanded in 2015 and 2016 on its existing site in Owatonna and it currently sells in grocery stores such as HyVee, Whole Foods and Target.
For now, Bushel Boy's timetable is to get into the ground some time this year but Irland recognized that it would be more likely for everything to be completed in Summer 2020.