Coon Rapids helps another business expand

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

The city of Coon Rapids is planning to dip into its $3 million economic development fund to help another Coon Rapids business expand.

Both the Coon Rapids City Council and the Coon Rapids Economic Development Authority (EDA), which comprises the seven members of the council, have scheduled special meetings for Tuesday, Feb. 14 to consider financial assistance for American Preclinical Services (APS).

The council will have a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on authorizing a $350,000 grant from the economic development pool for APS’s expansion project.

Following the council action, the EDA will have a public hearing on a business subsidy agreement with APS.

Councilmembers have toured the APS facility in Evergreen Business Park and Matt Brown, city community development director, expects no issues when the APS grant request is considered Tuesday, he said.

According to Brown, APS is a research facility which does preclinical testing of medical devices for medical device companies, both locally and globally.

APS currently occupies 44,000 square feet of space in Evergreen Business Park and is planning to expand into a vacant 20,000 square-foot building across the street at 8960 Evergreen Blvd., Brown said.

The project will renovate the existing building, most recently used as a school bus garage, for its research work, he said.

“APS is maxed out at its current building,” Brown said.

A start-up company when it opened in 2006 with five employees, APS now has 75 workers, he said.

With the expansion, APS plans to add 40 more employees, he said.

The city grant will provide gap financing for APS, which will use internal funds plus a letter of credit to pay for the expansion project, Brown said.

APS is planning to lease the building with an option to buy, he said.

To provide the grant, the city used a financing tool put in place by the 2010 Minnesota Legislature, according to Brown.

The Legislature approved a temporary provision to the tax increment financing (TIF) law allowing the use of cash balances in TIF districts for loans and assistance for any project that creates jobs, including construction jobs, he said.

In August 2010, the council changed the budgets of two TIF districts to free up money for this purpose, some $3 million.

The 2010 Legislature put a cap on the use of the TIF dollars – projects receiving assistance had to begin by July 1, 2011 and the money had to be spent by Dec. 31, 2011, according to Brown.

But in the 2011 session, the Legislature extended the program another year, providing the project receiving the TIF dollars has started by July 1 this year and is completed by Dec. 31, 2012, Brown said.

Brown does not expend the program to be extended by the 2012 session, he said.

But APS won’t have any trouble meeting the July 1 start date and Dec. 31 completion deadline, Brown said.

“APS plans to start the project right away with completion by the end of April,” he said.

Since the economic development funding pool was set up, the council and EDA have approved grants for five projects – Biovest, Bayer, Guardian Angels, RMS and Shoppes and Round Lake.

“There is money left in the pool, but it unlikely to all be used by the July 1 deadline,” Brown said.

According to its website, with a wealth of preclinical medical device expertise, state-of-the-art facility and the most advanced imaging technology, APS is a contract research organization of choice for in-vivo medical device testing.

“APS has the ability to perform GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) studies for regulatory submissions as well as feasibility research, device training and educational programs using acute and chronic research models,” the website states.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]