WASECA — When Quad Graphics, formerly Brown Printing, closed at the
end of 2017, it left about 400 employees out of
work and dealt a blow to the city of 9,000, which counted the printing company as its largest employer.
But what could have been a dire blow to the community today appears more hopeful as other manufacturers are starting to repopulate that massive facility and as the city has secured a large federal economic grant to help spur business growth.
“It’s definitely an exciting time with the things happening at Quad and elsewhere in Waseca,” sad Gary Sandholm, the city’s economic development coordinator. “We’re guardedly optimistic about things. I think 2020 should be an interesting and fun year.”
The city was recently awarded nearly $600,000 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Nearly $400,000 of that is to hire a coordinator for three years who would work exclusively on recruiting companies to move to or expand in Waseca.
“We’re looking for someone who has connections with people who are fairly high up in various companies or industries. Someone who has relationships with the decision makers,” Sandholm said.
“It’s a unique position — it’s not everyone who’s going to be qualified to handle it. It could be a great capstone for someone’s career. It’s probably not for someone just coming out of school.”
He said the person, who they hope to have on board by late winter or early spring, would seek companies from out of state to come to Waseca or businesses in Minnesota that are looking to expand to another location. Sandholm said they would not seek companies already in the state to relocate to Waseca.
The rest of the grant will go toward a study to determine the viability of a new Waseca area manufacturing resource center.
Sandholm said that project will be done by the Region Nine Development Commission, which a couple of years ago began looking at regional centers to assist either specific industries or all manufacturers in the nine-county area.