Ag Week: Avantech expansion in Baxter gets $1 million in federal funding
BAXTER, Minn. — A high-level U.S. Department of Agriculture official visited Avantech's future facility in Baxter to announce $1 million in loans intended to help finance the expansion.
USDA Under Secretary Lisa Mensah together with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby and local mayors Darrel Olson of Baxter and Ed Menk of Brainerd all took part in the event, held amid noisy construction of what will become the 48,200-square-foot Avantech building in Baxter's industrial park.
After its completion date — expected near the end of May — the new facility will house the company's engineering and administrative services, as well as some manufacturing operations.
Avantech (formerly Lakeland Mold Company) makes tooling for the global rotational molding industry. Co-owner Tom Haglin said the zero-interest loan covers about a quarter of the project costs.
"It's a huge deal for us," he said. "The less interest we pay, it allows us to get into more equipment, expansion of jobs."
The expansion is projected to create 12 new jobs while retaining 82 jobs, a USDA release said.
The loans were awarded by the USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program and were routed through local companies, Crow Wing Power & Light, and Consolidated Telephone Co., which each received $500,000 for the Avantech project.
Mensah described the REDLG program as highly competitive, so two companies in one state both getting an award was special, she said.
"It's a national program, so people compete for the funds throughout the whole 50 states," she said.
During Nolan's first term, $430 million in federal funding had been awarded to development projects like Avantech in the 8th Congressional District, according to his staff.
"There's always more worthy projects than there is money to go around," he said. "I can be pretty shameless in pressing for projects in my district, because it's my district, and because I'm trying to even the score."