A new tenant of the International Falls business park is settling into its third week in a newly-constructed building.
United Parcel Service relocated from its former location at a Van Lynn Road and Highway 53 intersection to 10 22nd St. East in the city's business park. The building is owned by Ricky Roche and the company signed a 15-year lease agreement for the location.
“I've been working on this deal for two-and-a-half to three years,” Roche told The Journal Monday, adding because of confidential reasons, he was unable to previously disclose the tenant that was going into the structure.
In 2017, the Koochiching Economic Development Authority Board approved a developer’s agreement that allowed Roche to build the 80x120-foot structure on about two acres of property that he purchased for $1 per acre in the park. Roche, owner of Roche Towing in the Falls, said the structure is the first new building UPS has had in its more than 50 years being located in International Falls.
“UPS was in its previous location for 27 years,” Roche said. “Prior to that, they were in a building over by Wherley Motors for 25 years.”
Roche said the size of the former UPS building could only accommodate five vehicles. The business park location allows for 14.
“There are 11 UPS trucks up here right now,” he said. “They've been in the building for two full weeks now... We're all happy.”
KEDA Director Paul Nevanen said UPS management was recently at the site and expressed how happy they were with the structure and noted it was a “substantial upgrade from what they were in.”
“There's a lot of technology (in the building),” Nevanen said. “We're pleased to have that up and running.”
The new UPS building isn't the only activity surfacing in the business park.
Nick Lagen and Kirk Lindberg of L&L Contractors approached the KEDA Board Monday with a preliminary outline of a structure they'd like to construct on two lots on the south side of 22nd Street.
“We're looking to build a bigger shop,” Langen said. “We want something in town so we're closer to our suppliers and fuel... We started doing a lot more work around town.”
The men started the business about four to five years ago on a part-time basis, and have since grown to full-time with two additional employees.
Lindberg said they hope to do more commercial work with more employees and need space to grow.
“We'd like a 60x80 (foot) main shop... Our shop and our parking area would fill up one lot,” Langen said.
Lindberg said another lot would allow truck traffic to be more easily managed.
“I think it's exciting,” said Rep. Rob Ecklund.
The report of the contractors' plan fell on the heels of an earlier conversation board members had about challenges entrepreneurs face in smaller communities. Nevanen said programs like Junior Achievement gives students ideas about becoming entrepreneurs.
“The risk environment out there is really tough right now,” he said. “The more prepared you can be... the more resources you have access to... it really makes a big difference.”
Nevanen said further improvements to the business park are in the works. He said there are plans to submit a grant application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for bituminous curb and gutter poured in the business park.
“Currently, it's just gravel the city has been maintaining,” Nevanen said. “We need to get asphalt and we will be working with the city on that application.”