Businesses getting established in NRThere’s still plenty of empty space for businesses in New Richmond’s new “incubator” building, but prospects are bright for the facility’s future.
By: Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
There’s still plenty of empty space for businesses in New Richmond’s new “incubator” building, but prospects are bright for the facility’s future.
It’s been less than four months since Bosch Packaging vacated the downtown, city-owned building on West Third Street.
But in that time, the city has decided to hang onto the building, rent out space to new or growing businesses and hired a property management contractor to fill up the 40,000-square-foot industrial and office structure.
Tom Ebert, who manages several incubator buildings in the River Falls area, said there have been a lot of inquiries from possible tenants in the West Third Economic Center.
“This is a small project for me, but a fun one,” Ebert said. “There is always a great demand for this type of space for start-up or small businesses.”
At rates of between $4 and $4.50 per square foot including utilities, the WeTEC building offers tenants everything from loading docks to restrooms at a reasonable price.
“It’s the kind of space that’s hard to come by at the prices we charge,” Ebert said.
Paul Mayer, president of the New Richmond Area Economic Development Corp., said the rental charges at WeTEC are reasonable because the facility is owned by the city and maintenance costs are at a minimum.
“It provides us with a unique opportunity to bring jobs to the community and not cost the taxpayers anything,” he said. “We have a tremendous opportunity here.”
The city’s hiring of Ebert was a smart move, Mayer added, because of his contacts with businesses looking to rent space.
“He’s plugged in to the network around here,” he said. Those connections have been beneficial.
Already three businesses are renting space in the building: Valley Battery Care LLC (which recycles vehicular batteries); ZAR Corp. (which refurbishes printing equipment); and Messes and Masterpieces (a nonprofit which conducts arts and crafts classes).
Another new tenant, which expects to lease about 8,500 square feet of space, will likely move in during June. When that happens, Mayer said, the WeTEC building will begin making a profit for the city.
“We’ll be past break-even,” he said.
In addition, that new business will bring about 11 new jobs to the community, Mayer estimated.
Ebert and Mayer are also working with several additional hot prospects for the WeTEC facility. One is expected to recover scrap steel ingots which will be sold to industries. Another potential tenant could be an airplane parts manufacturer who is negotiating a possible major contract.
“The majority of the businesses are run by people from around here,” Ebert said. “They want to stay around their hometown, and they take a lot of pride in bringing jobs to their community.”
For more information about WeTEC, contact Ebert at 651-208-1492.
Valley Battery Care
Jerry Hallstrom, River Falls, had been looking for industrial space for more than four months when the WeTEC building became available.
“The building was a godsend,” he said. “It was just what we were looking for when we started the business. And the city was really willing to work with us. I’ve been impressed.”
Valley Battery Care was established to recycle automobile and other vehicular batteries, such as batteries for golf carts, fork lifts, trucks and more.
Hallstrom said 75 percent of dead batteries can be “recovered” through a special chemical process and recharging.
Hallstrom, who moved into his new WeTEC space on March 1, said his plan is to service companies throughout the region that use batteries frequently for a variety of purposes.
“Instead of getting three years out of those batteries, they’ll be able to get five or six years out of the same set of batteries,” he said, noting that the cost savings can be significant.
“The markets are pretty large,” Hallstrom said, noting that the tough part is getting established and developing a source of dead batteries that can be recovered for eventual resale.