Portage’s industrial park has been selected for a $20 million development that could create 50 to 70 jobs, Mayor Ken Jahn said Thursday.
Don Bingham of R&M Hydro Farms LLC wrote the city a letter, confirming the company wants to build a hydroponic greenhouse facility in the industrial park, with an eye on future expansion to the west of the park.
“R&M Hydro Farms, LLC desired plans are to construct and have the facility operating by the end of the year. The facility will employ 50-plus people,” Bingham says in the letter dated April 9.
The intent, the letter says, is contingent on a number requirements including financing, licenses and permits, and budgetary. The business could use about 35 acres of the industrial park, which is about 65 acres and has room to grow.
“It is not a done deal, but it is further long than we have been in a lot of years and it is very exciting for the city,” Jahn said during Thursday’s Common Council meeting.
The mayor, who was voted out of officer earlier this month, said the city confirmed with the business that the information could be released to the public.
“It is refreshing to all of a sudden have good news,” Jahn said. “You put in the work, you put in the time, you talk to people and you sometimes sit back and wonder if anything is going to happen.”
Jahn said he heard the news as he was traveling to an appointment in Marshall and missed his exit ramp because he was so excited.
“It made me late for my appointment,” he said with a laugh.
The city had been working with the company for about nine months, Jahn said. His second three-year term as mayor comes to a close early next week. Thursday was his last regularly scheduled Council meeting.
“To me it is probably the best sendoff that I can get. It is something that you have heard me talk about since I have been mayor — that we need to be successful at doing economic development... and the last week I am mayor and it comes true. It kind of feels like a high spot and I can go out with my head held high.”
Jahn made the announcement near the end of a presentation by a city consultant that was hired about two years ago to review the city’s economic development efforts and make recommendations to improve them.
“We couldn’t have planned this any better,” said Janet Ady of Ady Voltedge, noting the good news. “I think it really speaks well for where the city is going.”
The city’s industrial park is on the northwest side of the city off of Highway 16.