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4 posts categorized "Co-op news"

April 08, 2013

Deal to buy ex-People's Energy Co-op building in works

People's Energy Cooperative moved out of Rochester and into a newly built complex outside of Oronoco last spring.

PeoplesSince then, its 42-year-old headquarters at 3935 U.S. 14 E. has stood empty.

Now a deal is in the works s a local buyer is stepping up to make an offer on the former People's complex. It includes a 13,000-square-foot office building and a 40,500-square-foot warehouse/shop building.

Hamilton Real Estate had listed the property at $2.8 million. I believe the offer in the works is for $2.4 million.

Look for all of the details on this to come out in the PB.

October 23, 2012

S.E. Minn.'s corn harvest comes in early, piled high

Forecasts about how good the corn harvest would be in parts of southeastern Minnesota have turned out to be wrong.

It is a lot better than anyone dared to predict.

In contrast to the rest of the drought-blasted Midwest, the area's rain-favored fields are bursting with a cornucopia of corn.

10232012cornharvest"I believe this is one of the largest harvests ever, if not the largest, for this area," said Tim Clemens, Greenway Cooperative's general manager. Greenway runs grain elevators  in Byron, Kasson, Dodge Center and West Concord. That puts Greenway's elevators right in the middle of the local corn boom.

With about 95 percent of this year's unusually early harvest completed, farmers are bringing in an average of 170 bushels per acre, with prices running more than $7 a bushel.

Ryan Buck, vice president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, farms more than 1,000 acres on a family farm in Goodhue County. He said he has already wrapped up the corn harvest, about three weeks earlier than last year. Last year's crop was "very good," but this year's harvest far exceeds it.

"Much of southeastern Minnesota is kind of a Garden of Eden," Buck said. "The quality of the corn this year is the best I've ever seen."

Clemens said all of Greenway's 5 million bushels of storage, plus more stored in related facilities, is full of grain. That's despite recently adding 1.1 million more bushels in storage.

Greenway has about a quarter million bushels on the ground outside storage bins, he said. Storing outside costs farmers and the cooperative money by lowering the value of the corn. That's not a big deal when corn is selling for $3 a bushel, but it's significant at this season's high prices.

He said the corn harvest is running 10 percent to 15 percent better than even the most optimistic forecasts. That's following a bumper crop of soybeans, which filled more grain bins than expected.

Another twist to this historic harvest is that it is happening so early. Harvests often extend into late November, but this harvest is expected to be mostly done by the end of this month.

"Everyone was kind of caught with their pants down with this harvest," Clemens said. "It is exploding. It is coming in faster than ever before."

While local grain elevators are bursting at the seams, this is an oasis amid a desert of drought-stunted fields across the Midwest. The drought is driving up prices, and grain rationing is being discussed by U.S. agriculture officials. Some livestock and dairy producers are selling off animals because they can't afford to feed them. Some ethanol plants are halting production.

"It certainly hasn't been all roses for everyone," Buck said. "This was kind of a fluke year. That's kind of the beauty of farming. No two harvests are ever the same."

That means that area farmers are in the unheard-of position of having more grain than usual just as prices are running high. Still, that doesn't add up to winning the lottery, because farmers' costs for seed, fertilizer, fuel and most everything else are also higher this year.

Much of this year's corn probably won't be sold for the sky-high prices. Farmers often contract early in the year to sell their future grain at a certain price. That means that despite the high prices, a lot of the bounty from this area could be sold for $5 to $6 a bushel.

However, there is no question that it is much better to be bringing in a record harvest than scraping together grain from drought-blighted farms, like the majority of U.S. grain farmers are doing.

As the harvest rolls to its end, the push is shifting toward figuring out how to ship all of this high-dollar corn out to buyers.

June 22, 2012

The geometry of collaboration — 'Cubists' bring co-working to Rochester

They may be square, but the Cubists coming to downtown Rochester are on the level.

Think of it as your office away from home with a new angle.

06222012thecube1jkA group of business people are shaping up a new co-working space called The Cube, which describes the blockiness of their small building at 717 South Broadway. That's behind the Rochester Area Family Y parking lot.

Spearheaded by David Hewitt of Mama Meg's Frozen Novelties, the details of this project were hammered out by a collection of 15-20 local entrepreneurs.

So what is co-working?

"Coworking is the social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space," said Hewitt.
06222012thecube2jk
In Rochester's Cube is a 360-square-foot office space where members, who all own and run small creative businesses, can get out of their home offices or coffee shop booths and work next to similarly minded people.

It is designed to encourage collaboration and creativity.

The "Cubists" signed up to work there, at least part-time, are Erik Giberti of AF-Design, freelance designer/marketer Sarah Miller, Nate Nordstrom of BrandHoot, Beth Ebnet of Trio Marketing and Events, Bucky Beeman of Snappy Stop and Hewitt.

The space can accommodate about eight people, along with a conference room seating for five. Very few members will be working there every day, so that allows for a larger pool of members.

It features a business broadband network, wireless printing with scanner, copier, a white-board wall, member-only events, coffee and Mama Meg's ice cream sandwiches.

"This has been a dream of mine for some time. It is really quite exciting," says Giberti, who has trying to bring the idea of co-working to Rochester for three or four years. "The time just wasn't right until now."

For the online application developer who has worked out of his Rochester home for the past years, being part of The Cube means he'll have a place to go on occasion to work and brainstorm with other creative people.

And when Giberti needs focused, "heads-down" work time, he still has his home office.

Why do this instead of just leasing a small office or a cubicle somewhere?

"What is really interesting in the co-working model is the creative and interaction that you have by not having those boundaries," he says.

March 09, 2012

Energy co-op flips switch on new digs

Here's some from my piece on the changes at People's Cooperative:

A local energy provider is ready to flip the switch on a new $9 million facility, along with a new name.

On Friday, People's Cooperative will close its 41-year-old headquarters at 3935 U.S. 14 E. in Rochester.

It will then re-open Monday in the brand-new complex at the edge of Oronoco along U.S. 52. However, the sign out front says People's Energy Cooperative.

"We thought this would be a good time to change our name, so it better reflects what we do," says People's president and CEO, Elaine J. Garry.C0F26C68-3C7C-1F8E-77BB-79FD324E842F

Adding "Energy" to its name is only one part of the rural power cooperative's rebirth.

Walking on new tile through the freshly painted hallways, Garry explained what drove the move and how this new 74,000-square-foot facility will better serve the cooperative's 15,000 members.

"It is state-of-the-art and equipped with up-to-date technology," she said. "It offers us a lot of possibilities."
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The new location offers People's financial opportunities with 10 acres of commercially zoned land and a 26 acre-industrial park called Oronoco Crossings. People's is also marketing its complex on U.S. 14 East for sale.

Tim Clawson, who manages economic development for the cooperative, says there has been interest in both areas, particularly from possible convenience stores or gas stations on U.S. 52.

"We're really pleased with the reaction," he says. "There is no convenience store on the right (west) side of the highway from St. Paul all the way to Rochester's 41st Street."