Entitlements in 1 ½ Months: The MN Tech Corridor Offers Unprecedented Speed-to-Market

Entitlements in 1 ½ Months: The MN Tech Corridor Offers Unprecedented Speed-to-Market Main Photo

14 Jan 2022


Located under 30-minutes from the MSP Airport, Centerville prides itself on its speed-to-market, being able to issue entitlements in as little as one and a half months. Mark Statz, Administrator and Engineer for the City of Centerville, recalls working with Ruffridge-Johnson on their move from the Twin Cities. “It was a true partnership. During the process we worked through any issues quickly, found solutions and they knew that they could count on us to help get the approvals through quickly and efficiently,” he said. Their relocation project is just one example of the type of work Mark and the City do on a regular basis to make it easier for businesses and developers. 

“In Centerville, we don’t have layers of bureaucracy and that makes it easier to get entitlements quickly. In fact, our average turnaround time is one and a half months if the zoning is already aligned, and three months if a special use permit is required,” said Statz. 

One of the ways they are able to move projects through quickly is to have a streamlined review process. Developers are invited to go through a free concept review where they can present something as simple as an aerial photo with rudimentary drawings, and a project description, for the Council’s Planning Commission to review. This informal meeting gives developers key insight into whether the Council is likely to support the project and if anything should be adjusted prior to officially submitting their plans. “This saves developers a lot of money because they get their engineer involved after they have a good idea of how to make the project work,” said Statz. 

As for public hearings, they are required to receive a special use permit, but that all still happens within the three-month time frame. “I learned early in my career the importance of being upfront and direct with developers about what we can accommodate. Our process is designed to give decisions quickly and lay everything out on the table. No surprises mean no delays for developers and in this world, time is money. I know that developers need to turn projects around quickly so we’re on board to help make that happen,” said Statz. In fact, they have even issued permits to move dirt before the deal is officially closed. “In Centerville, you’re working directly with decision-makers and that allows us to be flexible,” he added. 

Mark Statz only concern is that developers, site selectors, and business executives aren’t giving Centerville and other rural communities a chance to deliver quickly. “Too often there is an assumption that small communities aren’t sophisticated enough to handle large projects or to support the needs of large businesses. That’s simply not the case. Our staff is small, but as knowledgeable and sophisticated as those in larger metros. The only difference is you don’t have to wade through layers of support staff to reach the City Engineer or Administrator. You don’t have to wait six months to get on the City Council’s agenda. You just have to pick up the phone and call my direct line.”

As for available properties, Centerville has a shovel-ready site with full interchange access within a mile of the site. The pad has been prepared, sewer, water and electricity are available, the environmental work has been done and a feasibility study has been conducted to demonstrate the financial viability of a project in the data center and tech space – though they are open to all types of businesses. 

“Centerville and Anoka County offer distinct benefits for businesses. We are less than 30 minutes from the MSP Airport, pull talent from the Twin Cities metro, and have lower taxes than bigger counties,” said Samantha Markman, Economic Development Director for Anoka County. 

“The Minnesota Technology Corridor is the right place to grow a business. Larger corporations should give us a look. All of the assets are here, the speed-to-market is unprecedented and our local partnerships ensure that there is no red tape we can’t cut through,” said Bruce Sayler, Principal, Community and Economic Development at Connexus Energy. “We all have the same goal of making it easier for technology companies, and all companies, to do business here,” added Chris Eng, Economic Development Director for Washington County Community Development Agency.

To view properties in the Minnesota Technology Corridor, click here. For more information or help with site selection email bruce.sayler@connexusenergy.com.