120+ Malt-O-Meal jobs departing Northfield. WTF!

Malt-O-Meal The Northfield News reported late yesterday that Malt-O-Meal  “will relocate 120-130 workers, mostly technical, administrative, support and managerial staff currently working at its Campbell Mill facility on Hwy. 19… to help reduce the risk of contamination to the cereals manufactured at the plant.”

It’s a done deal?  The City / EDA didn’t know about this? Were heaven and earth moved in attempt to keep these jobs in Northfield?

17 comments to  (Including 2 Discussion Threads) 120+ Malt-O-Meal jobs departing Northfield. WTF!

  • 1
    Rob Palmquist says:

    I’m sorry to hear this. Malt-O-Meal has been, and I’m sure will continue, to be a good neighbor to my company. As an example, at one point we needed some large floor space to set up a tradeshow booth we were designing, and they let us use a corner of one of their warehouses. Here’s to hoping that they continue to keep a presence in town for many decades to come.

  • 2
    Scott Davis says:

    The article in the Northfield News is pretty cleat that the EDA was aware, but with little available land, MOM did not see anything that fit it’s needs… in Northfield.

    “Northfield’s Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson worked with MOM officials to find space, but, in this case, knew Northfield didn’t have anything to offer MOM.”

  • 3
    Peter Millin says:

    If you read between the lines of the article, it doesn’t seem to be a done deal yet.

    In my opinion they are looking for a “good deal”. Maybe a last ditch effort of our town leadership could change the intentions.

    Just ask MOM what are they looking for and what circumstances would persuade them to keep these people in town.

  • 4
    Arlen Malecha says:

    It was a sad day for Northfield when College City Beverage left town due to a lack of land on which to build. Now it seems yet another long-standing Northfield Business will move a portion of their business out of town due to a lack of options.

    The EDA, City staff and council need to get on top of this before we lose one more business --or portion there of — from the community. We can’t seem to attract new businesses so we better work harder to keep the ones we have.

  • 5
    David Henson says:

    Scott, has any one ever thought about building a taller office building downtown?

    • 5.1
      Ross Currier says:

      David -

      My understanding (probably not perfect) is that about 20 years or so ago, local developer Jerry Anderson proposed building a twelve (I think) story building on the southeast corner of Dahomey Avenue and 2nd Street.

      Twelve stories is probably out of architectural context for our downtown.

      Then, about five years ago, Progressive Rail discussed building a new corporate headquarters on the “Q Block” (southwest corner of Dahomey and 2nd). The NDDC (who I am not speaking for in this discussion) worked with Professional Design Group (a local shop) and found that, theoretically (only dreaming here, folks) by using the entire block (east side of the railroad tracks) you could create sufficient parking to support 60,000 square feet of “general offices and banks”.

      More recently, after reading in the Wall Street Journal that cities on the east coast were converting stalled condo projects into office buildings, I suggested (on this website) the possibility of “Phase II” of the Crossing being a sixty thousand square foot office building (matching the originally planned footprint) on the northeast corner of the same intersection.

      Perhaps that idea is also out of somebody’s conceptual context.

      However, with the millions of dollars saved in not having to extend infrastructure to a distant greenfield development site, you could build quite a bit of underground parking to support such a project.

      Such a project would probably generate increased foot traffic for our existing retailers, restaurants, and service providers too.

      Finally, there is “Uptown”, what I call our newer retail district along Highway 3 on the southern edge of Northfield.

      The Vet Clinic has recently shown us how to use this area to support the expansion of our existing businesses. I think there are still some decent sites available there between the highway and the river. If we, the private and public sectors alike, are willing to consider growing upward as well as outward, the possibilities are greatly increased.

  • 6
    Griff Wigley says:

    Scott, what Jody Gunderson does as director of Economic Development (ED) for the City does not necessarily mean that the Economic Development Authority (EDA) was fully involved.  I talked to a member of the EDA on Tuesday morning and he was as surprised as anyone about the MOM news when he heard about it at Monday’s Council meeting.

    I know you the difference between the ED department at the City and the EDA, but for others who might not, let me emphasize:

    Jody Gunderson is Economic Development Director. He is NOT Director of the Economic Development Authority (EDA). There is no such position. The EDA has a President, currently Rick Estenson.

  • 7
    Griff Wigley says:

    Arlen, College City Beverage didn’t move to Dundas ONLY because of the lack of land. See this Nov. 2007 blog post and discussion:

    Why Businesses Leave Northfield: One Company’s Story
    http://locallygrownnorthfield.org/post/2682/

    There were process/people issues, too.

    So the departure of MOM jobs raises the issue:

    Are we making progress in resolving the process/people issues?

  • 8
    kiffi summa says:

    Sorry for the incorrect use of the title “EDA Director”, i.e., Jody Gunderson… But I have seen it in print so many times; EDA Director’s report, etc…Good to be specific on these things, Griff.

    In reply to both you and Scott Davis… if the Economic Development Director was talking to MOM about “the move”, he was not reporting it to the entire EDA; more than just one member was surprised.

    I might add that the Council seemed mighty surprised also, on last Monday… one could even say “a shocked silence overcame the room”.

    So .. WHO was talking to WHOM?
    However, I would have to assume that MOM was talking to someone; they are far too supportive of the community to want it to be a surprise.
    Wouldn’t they expect it to come to the elected officials?

  • 9
    David Henson says:

    Ross, maybe if only a few of the Crossing condos have been sold the city could buy them out and buy up the project to make offices for MOM? That could solve a bunch of problems all at once.

    • 9.1
      Ross Currier says:

      David -

      My thought was that the second building could be constructed (creating jobs for local contractors and suppliers?) and reconceptualized as an office building designed for MoM.

      Who knows, maybe some MoM executives might want to walk fifty yards along the river to work and buy a condo unit, helping that hesitating project.

      But I realize that it’s kind of wild and crazy thinking.

  • 10
    Patrick Enders says:

    David H,
    Nice creative thinking there. Does anyone know if The Crossing could be readily repurposed?

  • 11
    Scott Davis says:

    Without knowing the specifics regarding the EDA Directors conversations with MOM, many times, business’s ask that their conversations be kept private. Anything said at the EDA meeting is public record as would a quorum of any EDA subgroup.

  • 12
    Griff Wigley says:

    EDA President Rick Estenson indicated to me that although he had heard MOM was looking for 60,000 sq. ft, he had no idea a decision was imminent. He and misc city leaders met in a hastily organized meeting yesterday to see what might be done.

    Also, it was his understanding that there 40 Northfield jobs to be relocated, not 120. Another 80 jobs from the Twin Cities would be combined with the 40 in a new location.

  • 13
    Peter Millin says:

    Griff,

    I would hope that city officials in the future might have a much better “hand on the pulse” of knowing what one of the largest employers of Northfield is up to.

  • 14
    norman butler says:

    The key to all this lies within Griff’s #7 comment. Click on the link and read it carefully.

  • 15
    Griff Wigley says:

    In today’s Strib, a story of an expansion of Malt-O-Meal’s expansion that left Northfield back in the spring of 2009:

    Open land at issue in Malt-O-Meal expansion
    http://www.startribune.com/local/south/108041899.html

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