Minnesota City to Get Air Freight Center

Rosemount finally got its wish.

The city will be the site of an international air cargo facility serving the Upper Midwest as a regional freight distribution center. The Greater Metropolitan Area Foreign Trade Zone Commission announced the decision Friday after more than a year of anticipation.

City officials envision the center will increase business and jobs in Rosemount. City Administrator Jamie Verbrugge said bringing the facility to Rosemount also will diversify the city's tax base by adding more industrial development.

"It's part of an overall economic strategy," Verbrugge said.

The center will process and truck international freight to existing airports. City officials project the center will be open by 2010.

Pine County and Mankato also applied in late December to become host areas for the facility. Requirements for the distribution center called for the host area to be within 60 miles of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A task force appointed by the trade commission also picked Rosemount because of its existing freight companies.

Earlier reports from cargo industry experts said the center could create 3,000 to 7,000 jobs for Rosemount, Verbrugge said. But the estimations could be overstated depending on how much cargo will be moved at the center.

State legislation authorized the project last year. Gov. Tim Pawlenty and other state leaders supported the project, which would enable Minnesota companies to ship products faster and more efficiently. They also hoped it would keep businesses in Minnesota and make the state a larger player in the global economy, the city said.

Tax incentives granted by the Legislature will help fund the project, Verbrugge said. Officials are calculating actual costs, which will depend on how much business comes from the private and public sectors. Rosemount's application noted more financial help and incentives might be needed from the state for the project.

The city plans to build the facility southeast of U.S. 52 and County Road 42 in an area encompassing 750 to 770 acres of privately owned farmland. Verbrugge said landowners in the area have been looking to sell, although the city will continue investigating whether other sites are more suitable.

The demand for a central facility to process and transport international shipments has increased in recent years, industry officials have said. Currently, products shipped to other countries must be transported by about 50 freight trucking companies scattered throughout the state. Rosemount officials said the project could strengthen Minnesota's economy by making it easier for local companies to ship goods in foreign trade.

Maricella Miranda can be reached at mmiranda@pioneer press.com or 651-228-5421.

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