National Guard, John Deere Expanding

The Valley City-Barnes County Development Corporation officially announced Friday that it is proceeding with the purchase of approximately 77 acres of land along Interstate 94 for industrial and commercial development. The site will launch the I94 Regional Development Corridor, where it will house new facilities for the North Dakota National Guard and an expansion of John Deere Seeding Group.

Within the corridor, the National Guard will locate its new facilities on a 20 acre site east of the John Deere manufacturing facility. The remaining land will be available for private sector development and infrastructure.

The estimated $9 to $9.5 million investment includes extension of the city’s water main, sanitary and storm sewers, lighting and concrete road to the interchange.

Depending on funding, the goal is to bore under I94 to bring water and sanitary sewer lines to the south side of the interstate and closer to adjacent land. This may enhance the city’s ability to loop its water lines in the future. Natural gas and telecommunications providers have also been contacted about Valley City’s corridor plans.

In order to finance the project, VDC has applied for grants and requested a portion of future sales tax revenue.

Potential funding sources include Economic Development Administration (EDA), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), funds through two regional councils, South Central Dakota Regional Council in Jamestown and Lake Agassiz Regional Council in Fargo, Department of Transportation (DOT), Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program (TCSP), Tax Increment Financing (TIF), private land sales and local economic development funds.

Valley City residents are being asked to support the renewal of the 1 percent city sales tax for 10 years through an advisory vote during the Nov. 6 election.

Upon completion of the corridor’s infrastructure extensions and frontage road development, five years of the existing sales tax will remain. The VDC says the sales tax extension to Dec. 31, 2029 ensures long-term financing to match up with long term infrastructure development needs for the corridor.

Of the 1 percent sales tax, 70 percent is dedicated to economic development, 25 percent for property tax relief and five percent for service and retail business development and image enhancement.

Land purchase will close no later than Dec. 14. The project is slated for planning and design in 2013, bidding in 2013/early 2014 and completion by fall 2014.

David Bradford, factory manager at John Deere Seeding Group, said the factory expansion should be complete by next fall.

Col. Steve Tabor, director of facilities engineering for the North Dakota National Guard headquartered in Bismarck, said he envisions the Guard will be looking at breaking ground on the new facility in the spring of 2015. They already have an advertisement out for architect and engineering services.

The VDC, city officials and the National Guard have been working together closely, looking at seven potential new sites around the area to meet the expanding needs of the National Guard, which has outgrown its existing facilities in Valley City.

The site the National Guard has chosen, which includes the home and land of Valley City resident Stan Ryan, meets the needs and requirements of the Guard best.

“The National Guard has always considered itself to be community based, and this location certainly puts a very public face on the National Guard and its presence here in Valley City,” Tabor said. “Everyone coming through on the interstate is going to know that the Guard is a part of Valley City, and that is really important to us.”

Another reason the Guard was initially so attracted to the site is the access they will have there.

“Many of you here have probably been backed up behind our tractor trailers winding their way down through Valley City from our current maintenance shop up by the north end of the city (by the Barnes County Municipal Airport),” Tabor said.

There are some safety issues with that — our equipment hasn’t been getting smaller; it has been continually getting larger,” he continued.
The new site will give Guard members quick and easy access to the interstate.

The new facilities for the Guard, an estimated $30 million project, will be 100 percent federally funded, according to Tabor.

The new Field Maintenance Shop (FMS) project will include a 30,000 square foot FMS and a 15,000 square foot unheated enclosed vehicle storage building.

The Readiness Center, currently located at the Armory on Winter Show Road, will expand to about twice the size it is now. The project is expected to be in the 2020 or 2021 Military Construction National Guard Appropriation subject to funding availability.

The existing FMS facility will be transferred to the city once the new FMS is completed. Mayor Bob Werkhoven said the city does not currently have plans for the building.

Bradford said John Deere will be investing $20 million into the factory expansion.

“This is another important step as we continue to grow to meet increasing customer demand for our product worldwide,” he said.

The project will expand the factory that was built 15 years ago by an additional 100,000 square feet, bringing the building to over 300,000 square foot total.

Earlier this year, John Deere expanded its factory by adding four new tillage lines in addition to their existing air seeder lines.
The expansion made the factory a year-round factory, eliminating seasonal layoffs.

This latest expansion will be through both lines and will create between 50 to 100 jobs over the next five years.

Bradford also said John Deere supports the 1 percent sales tax referendum.

“We encourage economic development because it’s important for our community, for our people and for our business,” Bradford said.
Mayor Bob Werkhoven expressed his excitement for the large economic development project.

“Maintaining the current and the creation of new jobs for Valley City is what economic development is all about,” Werkhoven said. “And the influx of new capital will have a positive impact on the business sector of Valley City and the area and should generate a lot of commercial activity.”