KAMP Automation, which was founded in 2015 and has been leasing property on University Drive SW in Waseca, is looking to build permanently — and local officials are hoping they will continue to call Waseca home.
Waseca County Administrator Michael Johnson spoke at the Sept. 28 Board of Commissioners meeting about the benefits of the business building in Waseca County, as well as what the county can do to attract it.
“KAMP is out a couple of weeks on their decision,” Johnson said. “They are doing some follow-up on what the actual need is for square footage. We are maintaining an open dialogue with them.”
KAMP Automation, LLC was unable to return request for comment by press time.
The reason Waseca County might be interested in attracting KAMP, Johnson said at the meeting, is that it employs 25-30 individuals, 15 of which are highly paid and very technical positions. KAMP is also looking to expand and employ more people in the future. Not only are these the kinds of jobs the county should want to see being offered in the community, he said, but KAMP also has existing deals with businesses and manufacturers that the county will want relationships with in the future.
“This is innovative entrepreneurship at its best,” said Ann Fitch, director of the Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce. “Automation for technology is really where it’s at right now. Expectations of growth for KAMP are pretty limitless.”
Owatonna is also trying to get them to move in, though, according to Johnson, and offering KAMP subsidization and economic abatement in order to do so. Owatonna is an attractive location, moreover, since it is right off Interstate 35, giving prospective applicants in the Twin Cities slightly easier access to jobs offered by KAMP.
Troy Klecker, community development director for the city of Owatonna, declined to comment on the pending project, as did Brad Meier, president of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
Given that there are also some differences in the tax rates of Waseca and Steele counties, Johnson said, Waseca County will want to consider how to offset that difference to make KAMP a more attractive offer.
“They’re not opposed to building here, just wanting it to be … a little better, I guess,” he said, adding that he has not personally spoken with KAMP and “cannot claim to know their motivations.”
Not being afraid to use economic development tools, such as tax abatement and tax increment financing (TIF), is something that makes Waseca County great from a business perspective, Fitch said.
Anticipated market value for the building is around $6 million, according to figures mocked up by Northland Securities, Inc., a capital market company headquartered in Minneapolis.
“These are mechanical engineering jobs, these are trades jobs,” Fitch said. “It’s just the high-tech jobs that every community is looking for.”