MILFORD, Iowa | Less than a week after state officials approved a more than $500,000 incentive package, a Minnesota-based office furniture company has confirmed its intention to move to Milford.
Mike Fiterman, chairman and CEO of Liberty Diversified International, the parent company of New Hope, Minnesota-based Safco Products Co., announced the decision in a release Tuesday.
Safco plans to purchase the former Polaris plant and bring more than 100 jobs to the Iowa Great Lakes community, making it about a $15 million investment for the company.
This is a major victory for the Dickinson County city of a little more than 3,000. Earlier this year, Polaris Industries cut 330 jobs in Milford and shuttered its 370,000-square-foot manufacturing facility there.
“Moving into the Milford facility became an excellent option for us because of the educated workforce, a plant with advanced technology capabilities, and the combined support of the Milford City Council and the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board,” Fiterman said.
Kiley Miller, president and CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor, said his organization worked with city and state officials for about six months on this deal and he's thrilled about it.
"It's a strong company and a company we are excited to work it," he said. "Most importantly, we are excited for the 100 workers who will find great new employment thanks to this project."
When it met Friday, the IEDA board awarded Safco a $250,000 forgivable loan, a $250,000 five-year, interest-free loan, as well as tax benefits via the High-Quality Jobs program.
The new jobs will have a qualifying wage of $16.83 per hour, the average hourly rate for Dickinson County.
Additionally, the city of Milford pledged a $50,000 forgivable loan and $500,000 of tax-increment financing assistance distributed over 10 years via a resolution it approved last week.
Safco expects to close on the property in January, renovate the building in October and have it operational by November, according to state documents.
Fiterman said Safco conducted a search throughout the Midwest for a new plant to keep pace with the company’s increased production.
Safco recently acquired Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based Mayline Office Furniture and plans to move manufacturing operations from there to Milford.
Coincidentally, Safco’s new Iowa plant was originally a furniture factory that Polaris shifted production of some of its vehicles to in 2013. The Roseau, Minnesota-based power sports company still maintains a plant in nearby Spirit Lake that employs around 650.
Fiterman pointed out that the new plant already has a state-of-the-art paint line and doubles the company’s current furniture manufacturing space. Items to be manufactured include desks, seating, storage systems, work spaces, tables and drafting furniture.
“Safco currently imports many of its products, but we believe that we will be able to produce American-made products in Milford that will be competitive in the global market,” he said. “Our goal is to have one of the most modern and efficient office product manufacturing facilities in this country.”