THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. — The growth of an electronic component company is presenting new challenges for a small northern Minnesota community.

Digi-Key in Thief River Falls will hold a ground breaking ceremony Sept. 15 for an expansion that could cost as much as $300 million, Minnesota Public Radio reports . The 1-million-square-foot expansion will more than double the component distributor’s global hub.

The company offers more than 6 million electronic components that are produced by other firms.

The company was awarded millions in tax incentives and grants this spring from state and local governments. Its upcoming growth will test the region’s labor supply and affordable housing options.

“We think the secret sauce is our workforce. We really think that differentiates us in the industry,” said company Vice President Rick Trontvet. “And, so our real desire here was to build here and expand our footprint here.”

Officials were relieved that the company decided to stay in the city instead of relocating, said Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer.

Trontvet said incentives played a key role in convincing the company to stay. The Legislature approved a $4 million forgivable loan and up to $40 million in tax incentives over the next decade.

The city secured $1.6 million in state grants for roads and public infrastructure improvements related to the project.

The expansion is expected to provide at least 1,000 new jobs. The company already employs more than 3,000 workers in a city of less than 9,000 people.

To help with the workforce issues, the company runs buses to nearby cities to get employees to the facility.

The city now faces the challenging of ensuring there’s enough affordable housing for new workers. Holmer said they also hope to make it a community where people want to live with a robust downtown.

Construction is expected to be completed by 2021.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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