Apex Embroidery to Break Ground on New Facility in Elk River, MN

Apex Embroidery and Design has been in business since 1998 and provides a wide variety of apparel decorating solutions, including screen printed transfers, custom applique, custom rhinestones, digital transfers and more. This manufacturer has seen consistent growth and works with a wide variety of clients.

Due to their significant growth in recent years, Apex will be nearly doubling their size and will be breaking ground on an approximately 13,000 square foot facility some time this month on a property located in eastern Elk River. 

This project will bring eighteen new jobs into Elk River, and the company has plans to create an additional seven well-paying jobs within the next two years. The company will also be purchasing new equipment and machinery to expand their services. 

Decklan Group worked to obtain over $160,000 pay as you go tax abatement from both the City of Elk River and Sherburne County, and secured an additional $200,000 forgivable loan to help with the overall project costs.

President and owner Brian Hill says, "Decklan Group has been fabulous to work with and a tremendous asset in the completion of our project. I don’t know if our project would have come to fruition if it had not been for the exhaustive effort of Annie and her staff. As Apex continues to grow we plan to utilize their services on future projects."

Working closely with the company, The Bank of Elk River and Sharp & Associates, this project is anticipated to be complete in the Spring of 2017.

P & F Machining to Add 40+ Jobs in Otsego, MN

Earlier this summer, P & F Machining broke ground on a 54,400 square foot facility located off of US Highway 101 in Otsego, Minnesota.  P & F Machining is a family owned business that was founded in 1983.  They are a precision manufacturer who offers high-quality custom machining for the aerospace, medical, agriculture and heavy equipment industries.  

P & F purchased approximately 6-acres from the City of Otsego, located in Great River Centre of Otsego, Third Addition.  The company will be bringing a minimum of 40 full-time employees in the community, and plans on adding at least 10 new full-time positions within two years.  

Decklan Group worked in conjunction with the City of Otsego and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to receive Job Creation Fund designation for the project, which will result in a $170,000 rebate upon project completion and job creation fulfillment.  Additionally, Decklan Group worked with the city to obtain a $317,696 Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Program from MNDEED grant to help offset the costs of a necessary street expansion in conjunction with the project.

Decklan Group also worked to secure over $600,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to assist with the cost of past property assessments and extraordinary site improvement costs.  

This is a prime example of true teamwork and cooperation between public and private entities.  The partnership between P & F Machining, Decklan Group, Arrow CompaniesCity of OtsegoMNDEEDEhlers, Premier Banks and countless support organizations and staff demonstrates the economic development success that can be achieved when parties work together to achieve a common vision.  

The project is anticipated to be complete in December of 2016.

5 Ways Youth Football is Just Like Business

It’s football season. For many of you that means getting elbow deep in a fantasy league, water cooler smack talk, and burying Sunday afternoons in cold beer and your famous chili queso dip. For the parents of rough and tumble youngsters, it means tying cleats, strapping up shoulder pads, buckling chin-straps, and finding new and inventive ways to keep oversize spandex pants from falling off your youngster as he runs for a touchdown.

Youth football is great. I don’t believe there is a sport that is more adept at teaching young kids teamwork, leadership, work ethic, sportsmanship and resilience. For those of us who choose to volunteer as coaches, the challenges are vast, however the rewards are never short of inspiring. As I stood on the sidelines watching my group of 4th graders earn a hard-fought 6-0 victory last night, I couldn’t help but laugh at the seemingly odd parallels between the game, and my dealings with the business world as Chief Strategist at Decklan Group. I laid out five of my favorite similarities below.

1.  No one is ever on time.

No matter how many emails, text messages, phone calls, and calendar invites you send, at least one kid will be running up 5 minutes before kickoff with half a piece of pizza in his mouth. In business, you can bank on someone being late to just about any group meeting you set. Plan for it and don’t let it throw you off your game.

2.  Everyone reacts to adversity differently.

You can learn a lot about a kid when he is about to get tackled. Does he lower his shoulder and deliver a hit, does he freeze up, does he try to spin and juke, or does he curl up in the fetal position and close his eyes? Same goes for my clients; some meet adversity head on and try to throw their weight around, some get that deer in the headlights look and shut down communication for days/weeks, some get creative to side-step the problem achieving their end result with a different approach, and some duck and cover hoping the problem goes away.

3.   It takes a team to deliver an individual’s glory.

Every time the star running back, or promising young QB crosses the goal line they are showered in praise, however, they’d never get there if it wasn’t for the efforts of the players around the executing blocks, and carrying out their misdirection. In business, ownership and the C-suite often get the newspaper quotes, and their pictures in magazines, however the hard work and dedication of the employees below them are the stepping stools to their success.

4.  Momentum can be generated by celebrating the small successes.

Football is a game of inches and battles. Watch how tides turn by players high-fiving, butt-slapping, and chest bumping after a seemingly meaningless play. Motion creates emotion, and positive breeds positive. The same thing is true in business. Celebrate small milestones. Give weekly awards to employees for hitting goals. Recognize trivial achievements with enthusiasm and then watch morale, efficiency, and loyalty sore.

5.  The only play that matters is the next one.

The surest way to lose a game is to worry about the last play. The past is the past. You can learn from it, but it’s over. In order to achieve success, you need to focus all of your attention and ability on the next play and execute to the best of your ability. Business is the same. No one cares how profitable you were last year. Your boss doesn’t care how many accounts you closed last week. Your clients don’t care how well your last product performed. All that matters is what happens next. How will you improve your performance and deliver results? If you hang your tomorrow on yesterday, your success will be short-lived if any.

I could go on, and I’m sure you have or can draw your own parallels. I want to hear your thoughts, share your business/youth sports correlations below.

5 Things I've Learned from being an Economic Development Professional

I’ve been an economic development professional for over a decade, with over half of the time spent in the public sector.  The last three years, I’ve been building my business - just when I think I’ve got a good handle on a project, I’m reminded that there are certain things you can always count on.

Below is a list of 5 things I’ve learned since being in the economic development field.  They are by no means all  the lessons I’ve learned, and I guarantee I will continue to learn throughout the duration of my career.

In no particular order:

1. There will always be surprises - plan accordingly.
I’m a very Type A person - ask our clients.  I’m the queen of creating schedules, highlighting important deadlines and setting reminders.  No matter how much you plan, there will always be surprises.  From a decision being tabled by a Planning Commission, to a 45-minute discussion at a public hearing regarding the color of overhead doors (yes, this really happened) - we’ve encountered surprises in every single project I’ve worked on.  Be prepared.  

2. Policies can be changed.
Policies and ordinances are in place for a reason.  Whether you think it’s overreaching, every policy and ordinance was put in place for a reason, and was meant to serve a purpose.  Don’t get me wrong, they can seem outdated, but when created, in most cases, were created with good intentions.  With that being said, we’ve found that some policies and ordinances are out of date.  In fact, we’ve had countless occasions where city/county/state staff has agreed with us - don’t let this stop you from pushing for change.  If you can justify your reasoning, and arm yourself with supporting facts - these can be changed.  We’ve amended countless policies and ordinances in many cities and counties in the past three years.  It’s not easy, but it can be done - if it makes sense for all parties involved.

3. Get a second opinion.
We work with several professionals: realtors, builders, bankers, etc. Some of our clients are fiercely loyal, some are open to suggestions.  While I’m a firm believer in loyalty, I also find no fault in getting a second opinion, build, quote, etc.  Don’t get me wrong - the lowest price is not always the best option; you need to take the intangibles into consideration: customer service, relationships, experience, etc., but there’s nothing wrong with having a fresh set of eyes look at your project.  

4. Incentives and programs can make or break a project.
Matching businesses with financial incentives and programs is one of the main reasons we started Decklan Group - there were too many projects not moving forward due to a lack of financing and red tape, and excellent incentives and programs going unused because businesses were not aware of them.  Make sure you’re exploring all options - if you’re having trouble finding the financing or program to make the project happen, don’t give up.  Call a professional...us ;-

5. You can never plan far enough in advance.
We’ve worked with over 50 businesses and countless government entities and organizations since Decklan Group’s inception.  We’ve never had someone tell us “wow, I contacted you way too early!”.  It’s never happened.  Regardless of where you’re at in the stage of your project, it’s imperative to do your due diligence when it comes to 1) selecting a suitable site, 2) outlining your project budget, and 3) identifying all sources of financing (including incentives).  More often than not, a client has hired us after purchasing a site (only to find out they didn’t fit into the current zoning district), after ordering a $100,000 piece of machinery or afterbreaking ground on their facility - this is too late.  While rezoning a property isn’t impossible, it can be ridiculously challenging, time consuming and frustrating.  Furthermore, we have yet to come across a low-interest loan, tax rebate or incentive that can be used to pay for something after the fact.  Plan ahead, your project will take longer than you think..

Moral of the story?  Companies like ours are your friends, can save you millions, put you in a position to make millions more, and almost most importantly, take care of nearly all of the headaches associated with building or expanding so you can concentrate on what you’re best at...running your business.

4 Quick Instagram Tips

Social media is a powerful and cost-effective tool to market and brand yourself, and it’s only getting bigger. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and many others, there is no shortage of ways companies can engage with prospective clients.  Each social media outlet has different best practices to create the most engagement and following. Instagram is a relatively new social media avenue that companies have started utilizing, but many are confused on how to utilize it the correct way.

Below are some quick tips to keep in mind when using Instagram to promote your brand:.

  1. Use High Quality Images. Pictures that are visually stunning and of high-quality (no less than 1080 x 1080 pixels) always capture better results. It looks unprofessional to post grainy and blurry pictures. Make sure to utilize necessary editing software programs to prevent amateur pictures that ultimately hurt your image. The end goal of Instagram is building a quality and engaged following; you will never get quality followers if you are not posting quality pictures.

  2. Post Relevant Content. Images used should be relevant to your brand and image, and add to the story you are trying to tell. Make sure your pictures have a purpose and convey the idea your business wants.

  3. Engage. While posting pictures is great, it is equally as important to engage with your followers. Instagram provides an easy way for companies to engage with their followers. It is important to take time and scroll through your feed commenting and liking other pictures, in addition to searching check-ins and hashtags when applicable.. By creating these relationships with other profiles, it opens the door for cross promotion and further social media traffic.

  4. Utilize #Hashtags. Many think hashtags are just a fun social media fad, however they serve as an important connecting tool. Hashtags are a search tool, by getting creative and even using company specific hashtags, you can leverage your marketing. Monitoring your hashtags is important; by learning which hashtags get you noticed by your target demographic, it increases traffic and views on your profile. Unlike Twitter which gives users a 140 character limit, Instagram has no character limit. Feel free to be liberal in your hashtag use, the more hashtag options, the more opportunity for increased company exposure. Basically, the more the merrier!

Once thought of as a passing fad of younger generations, Instagram has cemented itself as one of the premier social media platforms for businesses. Take these tips, and some time to learn the platform, it has the potential to pay huge dividends.


Family Fun Downtown Elk River - 5th Annual McCoy's 5k!


Remember, the best part of this run is that it is FUN!  You can walk, bike, rollerblade, jog, run, slog, skip, hop, whatever you want to do to travel the course.  There are people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. Whatever type of human you are, you'll feel right at home.

Mark your calendars- McCoy’s Irish Pub in downtown Elk River will be hosting their 5th annual St. Patty’s day 5k. All of the proceeds for this race are given to CAER; the local food shelf in Elk River. McCoy’s 5k is a key component of CAER’s celebration of the MN Foodshare March Campaign. This 5k is a great way to involve the whole community, downtown businesses, and gives CAER a chance to meet all the wonderful people who have supported them!

The race will begin bright and early at 9am, the morning of March 12th (a Saturday for those who might use the work excuse). While the race doesn’t start until 9am, plan to arrive at 8am for check-in and same day registration. For those that do not want to come in at 8am the morning of the race, you may pick up your shirt and packet Friday the 11th at McCoy’s Irish Pub from 5-8pm!

Because it is the St. Patty’s day run, everyone is encouraged to dress up in fun St. Patrick’s day attire! All racers upon completing the race will be congratulated with a complimentary beer or soda at McCoy’s after! Stick around later because CAER will have a table to donate a non-perishable food which enters you into a prize drawing; last year we raised over $7,600, lets see how much more we can raise this year!

For those who still haven’t registered but want to, click here > REGISTER HERE!

Solve Your Own Skills Gap Problem

Throughout history we have proven that a strong manufacturing industry is essential to a country’s economy. Without the manufacturing industry, goods will have to be created and purchased overseas, weakening and minimizing our economy. Not only does manufacturing add jobs, but it has been proven that every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the economy and that every 100 jobs in a manufacturing facility creates an additional 250 jobs in other sectors.We see the skills gap issue with a lot of our manufacturing clients, they have money and time to train individuals, but they can’t seem to find the right people. With less and less people working in the manufacturing industry, these companies are stifled and cannot grow and increase their economic capacity. The social stigma against going to a technical school and pursuing a career in the manufacturing industry does more harm than good. The idea that people won’t make as much in the manufacturing sector as other sectors creates this social stigma we need to overcome as a society. Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled; however due to the skills gap nearly two million of those jobs are expected to go unfilled.


Last week, Decklan Group met with two of our manufacturing clients who both said the same thing- they are willing and able to pay more than the market rate for a good employee; yet have challenges finding employees. There are a variety of programs that help manufacturers to find new employees as well as train their current ones. The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) is a program that works with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers. The types of classes can range from industry specific, to broad classes such as communication, leadership training, and conflict resolution. Through this program, manufacturing companies are exposed to the tools and resources that elevate their employee’s skills, thus increasing their capacity to work.

The Job Training Incentive Program provides funding for training provided you hire at least three employees during the duration of the training. Instructors for this program do not have to be from a certified educational institution. If you’re interested in learning how you can obtain funding to not only strengthen your existing workforce, but attract new employees through the benefit of professional development, contact us. We have secured nearly $500,000 to date, and would love to help you grow your business!

Don't Deliver a Product - Deliver an Experience.

It has been roughly three months since I began interning with

Decklan Group

, so I decided to write a blog addressing some of the things that I have learned thus far. The most important thing that I have learned working with Annie and Tim is the importance of good relationships. Even though I am not currently in Elk River, and have been working remotely from Duluth, I can see the relationships that




have developed with not only their clients, but other businesses and non-profits in their area.

I have learned how vital it is to have good relationships with not only your clients, but everyone you work with. Relationships are imperative, especially in a smaller community when it is inevitable that you will interact with these businesses and individuals again. While writing this, I keep thinking of a quote that I once saw that said “The best advertising isn’t advertising” and realizing how much this applies now. This means that the best advertising may not be paying money for advertisements in magazines or billboards, but by branding yourself as a reliable and efficient company through the work you provide to your clients. Provide them an experience worth repeating. Word of mouth advertising by others who have interacted with your company is truly the best advertising. In the age of technology and with a majority of our business being done over the computer and through emails, I realize that truly connecting and forming relationships with clients is incredibly important.

Another thing that has stuck out to me over the past three months of interning is the importance of being honest and transparent with clients. While similar to forming good relationships, honesty and transparency is key to a successful relationship with your client. I remember one meeting I had with Annie where she said she enjoyed her role because it not only allowed her to help people, but helped identify additional resources to make their dream a reality. She also indicated that she would not take up a project that she thought was unattainable, or would tell her client that a certain project may not be feasible. Often times, it can be tough for businesses to get a straight answer and know exactly what others are thinking, however Decklan Group provides the honesty and resources that businesses need. To me, this was really refreshing and I started to learn the true value of being as open and transparent with clients, co-workers, and companies.

These are only two things that I have taken away so far from my time at Decklan Group. Forming strong relationships and being honest are things that I will be able to apply both professionally and personally. They may seem pretty obvious, but Annie and Tim have truly given me a sense of what it means to do good business.

Something even cooler? I will get to practice these traits over and over again because you are now reading the blog of someone who will be working full time with

Decklan Group

upon her graduation in December! :) I am so excited to continue working with Tim and Annie after graduation, and I hope you are excited to continue hearing more from me.

Breweries Account for Employment Increase in Minnesota

Our intern Rosie sheds light on the importance of the brewery industry in the State of Minnesota.

If you read my last blog, you learned about the craft beer boom in Duluth, Minnesota, and some of the economic impacts it has on the community. I'd like to take a step back and talk about the impacts the craft beer industry has had on the entire State of Minnesota.

In the past 30+ years, the number of breweries in Minnesota has grown exponentially. According to the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED), there were only four breweries in the state in the 1980's. As of the first quarter of 2015, there were 48 breweries in the state. In the past decade, beer production has grown by 83%, producing 390,962 barrels of beer in 2012 alone!

What does this growth mean? More beer, increased tax base and more JOBS!

Below is a chart, outlining the growth of beer establishments over the past decade; as you can see, we've gone from six breweries in 2004, to 48 breweries in the first quarter of 2015.

In addition to the increased tax base our state has seen from the increase in breweries, we've also seen a tremendous increase in job growth. Jobs have more than quadrupled since 2004! Today in MN, breweries employ more than 1,025 people.

It looks like brewery growth in Minnesota has yet to hit its peak. Between 2013 and 2014, employment grew 30%, when the overall total labor market grew by a little over 1%; this means that while statewide employment grew a small percentage, the brewery industry employment itself grew by a whopping 30% - far above the statewide average.

Even better? Between 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, breweries have experienced employment growth of 37%, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Thank you to MNDEED for being a valuable resource for not only employment data, but industry trends and financial incentives to allow our state to maintain economic competitiveness.

Minnesota’s Craft Beer Capital – Duluth, MN

Our intern Rosie, is a senior at the U of M Duluth; we asked her to do a blog on local craft breweries, and the importance to the Duluth economy. 

Decklan Group has worked with a handful of start-up breweries, and is currently working with several within the state of Minnesota to help them find the perfect site, and obtain tax incentives – for more information, check out their website at www.decklangroup.com 

Being a 21-year old in a Northern Minnesotan college town definitely has its perks. There are plenty of restaurants and diners that have outdoor seating, and even more outdoor activities for you to enjoy. I can easily name five different restaurants where I can go, order a beer, and sit out on a patio (hopefully overlooking Lake Superior). I was never really much of a beer drinker, but after stealing sips from friends, and visiting local breweries recently, I have become what you might call a “beer connoisseur.” I never really knew just how much local breweries impact Duluth until I started working in economic development.

Brewing has grown exponentially in the last several years; in fact, employment in breweries grew 30% between 2013 and 2014. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED), there are now 48 brewery establishments in the state.

In Duluth, there are a variety of craft breweries, and even a vodka distillery. Not only are Duluth breweries known around the state, but also surrounding states and countries. Because of Duluth’s proximity to Wisconsin and Canada, there is a great deal of crossover between the regions. In 2013, Duluth had ten microbreweries open, or nearly open. In a city with a population of 86,277 people, that’s about one brewery for every 8,627 people. This means that Duluth has more craft breweries and brewpubs per capita than any other major city in the state of Minnesota.
While craft breweries are popular between college kids and adults, they are also essential to the region. Duluth breweries employ many people, but also put Duluth on a statewide platform; gaining notoriety for their breweries and attracting other companies and tourists to check them out as well. In a letter to the Growler Magazine in 2013, Mayor Don Ness declared Duluth to be “Minnesota’s Craft Beer Capital”.

Currently, Duluth has at least seven active breweries in Duluth alone, with more in Two Harbors, Superior, and other surrounding cities. Duluth even has their “Duluth Beer Trail” which highlights the different breweries in the area and lists the different types of beers they carry. Included on this beer trail are Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Blacklist Brewery, Canal Park Brewery, Carmody Irish Pub Brewery, Dubh Linn Brewery, Fitger's Brewhouse and others. After realizing just how vital the breweries were to Duluth’s economic development and city, I decided to do some research to figure out how specifically they impacted this city.
I started to do some digging to figure out just how many people were employed by Duluth breweries. Unfortunately, a lot of the data is not available, however I was able to find some information from APEX (the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion) regarding Duluth’s oldest craft brewery; Fitger’s Brewhouse.

Founded in 1995, not only is Fitger’s one of the bigger breweries in the Duluth region; employing roughly 220 employees, but they are one of the top employers in the region. Food Preparation workers are one of the top ten occupations in Northeast Minnesota, and Fitger’s contributes to this statistic by operating satellite restaurants like Tycoon’s Alehouse and Burrito Union, which also supply Fitger’s beer.

Another brewery that I wanted to investigate was a newer brewery, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. Not only had I heard good things about this brewery from friends who enjoyed IPA’s, but I have heard several local Duluthians often brag about this beer. Bent Paddle was launched publicly in 2013, and has gained huge popularity within the community. The founders of Bent Paddle saw the demand for another craft brewery in this region, and chose Duluth for the beer culture, water access, and amount of eager, young professionals looking to work in the craft beer industry.

Craft breweries are definitely a way of life for residents of Duluth; through employment, tourism, additional tax base and enjoyment. Mayor Ness wasn’t wrong when he named Duluth “Minnesota’s Craft Beer Capital.” Not only has Duluth capitalized on the craft beer craze, but the notoriety has spread throughout the state. If you're 1) looking for a local vacation and/or 2) enjoy an ice cold glass of craft beer, start planning your trip to Duluth today.

Dirt is Flying on Three Development Projects in Elk River

It's been a whirlwind of projects since

Decklan Group

opened their doors nearly three years ago, and there's no sign of it slowing down anytime soon.

From site selection to rezoning, tax abatement to gap financing, we are proud to announce the completion of three significant development projects in Nature's Edge Business Center, located on the eastern edge of Elk River, Minnesota.


Morrell Companies

is a family owned business which has been located in Elk River since 1962. Larry and Arlyce Morrell started the business as a common carrier trucking company and after recognizing the growth potential of the business, added an aggregate division in 1974. Throughout the years, numerous divisions were formed to haul concrete products, recycling material and heavy equipment. Morrell Companies is now a full service carrier which offers a vast variety of standard and specialized transportation services.

In 1996, Morrell Companies built a 36,000 square foot facility to provide them a greater ability to serve their customers. To accommodate their growth, they recently purchased a 4.08 acre lot to build a 13,824 square foot facility to provide a wash facility, light duty maintenance and office space for their growing company.

This project will not only retain 105 current employees, but will create at least 13 new well-paying jobs over the next two years. The project will contribute over $35,000 annually in property taxes and is anticipated to be complete by the middle of 2016.

Decklan Group

worked with the company to rezone the property, obtain a Conditional Use Permit, secure a $200,000 low-interest loan, and obtain a total of over $210,000 in tax incentives.

Classic Construction

, out of East Bethel, is building the project and

The Bank of Elk River

provided the construction financing.


Sportech, Inc

. is a family owned, innovation-driven plastics thermoformer specializing in the design, development and production of quality products and accessories for the recreational and utility product industry which began in 1994. Originally a home-based business in the Carlson garage, the company moved to a 10,000 square foot facility in 1998 and built a brand new 92,000 square foot facility in Elk River in 2008.

In 2012, an additional 55,000 square foot facility was added in Elk River for warehouse and assembly productions. To accommodate their explosive growth, Sportech recently acquired approximately 14 acres to build a 105,000 square foot facility in Nature's Edge Business Center, which will eliminate their current 55,000 square foot facility. This facility will offer a highly efficient assembly operation, more advanced thermoforming and a location where the in-depth manufacturing processes are executed from start to finish.

This project will not only retain 204 current employees, but will create at least 43 new well-paying jobs over the next two years. The project will contribute over $216,000 annually in property taxes and is anticipated to be complete by early next year.

Decklan Group

worked with the company to rezone the property, obtain

Job Creation Fund

(JCF) designation from the

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

(MNEED) which will provide a $175,000 rebate within two years and obtain over $1,000,000 in tax incentives.

RJ Ryan Construction

, out of Mendota Heights, is building the project and

Bremer Bank

provided the construction financing.


GATR Truck Center is a full service heavy and medium truck dealership which began in 1962. Purchased in 2000 by owner Bob Netizke, GATR currently has three locations: Sauk Rapids, MN, Cedar Rapids, IA and Des Moines, IA. Click


to read the full story about their groundbreaking which took place in June of this year.

To accommodate their growth, GATR purchased two lots in Nature's Edge Business Center, totalling nearly 150 acres, to build a 42,912 square foot facility.

This project is expected to create over 60 well-paying jobs within two years from project completion.

Decklan Group worked with the company to find a site, amend the C-3 zoning ordinance, rezone the property, obtain a sign variance and obtain over $1,000,000 in tax incentives. 

Winkelman Building Corp

., out of St. Cloud, is building the project and

Bremer Bank

provided the construction financing.

Looking ahead, we are working on projects in Ramsey, Otsego, St. Paul and Livonia Township which plan to break ground next year.

Summer EDAM Conference Results in Decklan Group Intern

Hi everyone! I’m the newest intern at Decklan Group and am so excited to start this journey. My name is Rose, and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth with a major in Political Science and a minor in Hispanic Studies. I’m sure looking at major and minor alone, you’re wondering “Rose why on earth are you interested in economic development?” Well, I am here to tell you.

Growing up, I only vaguely knew what my parents did; I could answer basic questions regarding their work, and how they made their money to pay for our hockey camps we did every summer. My dad was a teacher and my mom worked at a city somewhere east of us (I realized later the city was Rosemount and that she was the Community Development Director). Growing up, I was always called a “daddy’s girl” we had the same personality, laughed at the same jokes, even looked pretty similar. Unfortunately for my mom, her first-born was head over heels obsessed with her dad. As time went on, I started getting more and more attracted to politics; something my mother was interested in. We discussed upcoming elections, current events, and speculated what it would be like running for office. Fast forward to high school graduation when I realized that I was going to become a political science major, just as she had been.

Even though I knew I was going to major in Political Science, I was unclear as to what I would do with the degree. . I had the typical dreams, maybe going to law school, maybe running for office, but none of those ever really stuck.

My junior year of college hit me like a brick; I realized I needed to 1) get an internship in a field I was interested in, and 2) figure out what my path would be after I graduated. I had never really considered the economic development path before now; perhaps it was the teenage rebel still inside of me that didn’t want me to do what my mom did:) Ironically and thankfully, I landed an internship with APEX, which is a private regional economic development organization based out of Duluth. I started out as the administrative intern; answering phones, making coffee, setting and canceling appointments, etc. I started getting really interested in what APEX did and how they have impacted northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. After a couple months I became APEX’s Business Developer Intern as well as the Administrative Intern.

Over this past summer Duluth hosted the EDAM Conference- The Economic Development Association of Minnesota for my non-economic development friends. I felt like a fish out of water; I was one of the only students surrounded by people who have really created a name for themselves not only in the region, but throughout the state as well. Of course, being shy is one of the worst things you can do at a conference that is designed for networking and creating connections. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to meet Annie and Tim at this conference. Annie asked me about my schooling, and I asked her countless questions about her company and what she did. A couple months later, I went to shadow her in Elk River to get a better idea of what Decklan Group did and how they operated. I think it went well, even after asking what seemed like millions of questions! She gave me a tour of the area, and showed me all of the projects Decklan Group was currently working on. Hearing about all the jobs and opportunity they brought to the northern metro region was fascinating. Call me a nerd, but I love this stuff.

Even after all the constant questions I asked from our full day spent together, I was lucky enough to be offered an internship at Decklan Group this fall. I began last week, and I am excited to see how much I will learn from this awesome experience.

Economic Development Resources in Minnesota: Intern Scholarship

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Common question, yet, I'd bet that "an economic development professional" is not a common answer. Growing up, I'd never thought that I'd make a career out of economic development, however, that's exactly what I did. And I wouldn't change it for anything. An organization that has helped my professional development along the way is the Minnesota Economic Development Foundation (MNEDF).

The MNEDF is a 501 (c) 3 private non-profit corporation, formed for the purpose of building stronger Minnesota communities through economic development outreach, education, training and initiatives. MNEDF Chair and Economic Development Association of Minnesota President's Award winner Patrick Connoy says "matching driven professionals with communities and organizations with a commitment to economic development action produces measurable outcomes for the individuals and communities that the Foundation supports."

Patrick Connoy, MNEDF Chair & recipient of the 2015 EDAM President's Award

I was first introduced to the MNEDF several years ago, when I was awarded a scholarship to assist me in achieving an economic development certificate through Hamline University. Since then, I received my Masters in Public Administration, and started my own economic development firm, Decklan Group, in 2012.

Recognizing the importance of economic professionals, I wanted to give back by giving a student an opportunity to not only learn more about the profession, but to provide them with the experiences to learn why it is such an important, and crucial field in today's world. Because of the Foundation's generous intern scholarship, and focus on economic development, we were able to employ an intern for three months; not only did he assist in numerous projects across the state, he was given invaluable experiences that will impact him forever.

I am so grateful to have this organization in our wonderful state, and I hope that they continue to focus on providing scholarships to encourage students to pursue a career in the field I love.

To learn more about our firm, projects, or internship opportunities, check out our website, Facebook or Twitter.

GATR Truck Center Breaks Ground on New Elk River Facility

On June 17, 2015 we celebrated the groundbreaking of GATR Truck Center, a full service heavy and medium truck center dealership which began in 1962. GATR purchased two city- owned properties, totalling 14.8 acres and broke ground on a 42,912 square foot facility in Elk River's Nature's Edge Business Center. This is GATR's 4th location, with existing locations in Sauk Rapids, MN, Cedar Rapids, IA and Des Moines, IA. Collectively, the three existing locations employ over 200 people.

GATR's new location will create approximately 38 jobs by the end of 2015, averaging $32.89/hr. By the end of 2017, they anticipate having a minimum of 63 employees. This project is estimated to generate approximately $160,000 per year in property taxes.

Completing this project required numerous land use approvals, including:
  • an ordinance amendment to permit truck sales as a conditional use in the C-3 district 
  • a rezoning to convert one of the parcels from Business Park to C-3 
  • a conditional use permit to permit truck sales 
  • a variance to permit their freestanding sign 
In addition to the land use approvals, Decklan Group was able to secure a total of $1,028,658 in tax rebates over the course of 15 years, which required tax abatement applications to both the city of Elk River and Sherburne County.

This is a prime example of the the economic development services we offer to clients; assisting with land use approvals, navigating government processes and public hearings and identifying eligible incentives to ensure the project moves forward.

Owner of GATR Truck Center, Bob Neitzke says "Hiring Decklan Group was a smart move; without them, there was no way this project would have moved forward. They were able to secure all the approvals we needed, in addition to obtaining tax incentives to ensure the success of our new location."

The project is anticipated to be complete in November of 2015. A big thanks to Winkelman Building Corporation and Bremer Bank for their assistance in making this project happen. Make sure to keep up with their progress by liking GATR on Facebook, and following them on Twitter.
Owner Bob Neitzke, Dan Bosshart, owner of neighboring business Preferred Powder Coating and Jennifer Wagner, Elk River City Council

Summer Blog Series Rambling of the Intern: FINAL Blog

During the course of my ten weeks with Decklan Group I have already learned, what seems like, enough information to run a business, I could probably teach a class on it. I’ve learned about how maintaining good relationships is what keeps you in business. You always want to go above and beyond the expectations of your clients. If you do a fantastic job for your clients it not only will bring you more business from them, they will also recommend your company to everyone they know. The amount of money you have to spend on marketing will, at least, be cut in half if you maintain your relationships.

Annie and Tim are the prime example of successful entrepreneurs. In their lives they saw a service that wasn’t being fulfilled and they got in that market. Their attitude, work ethic, and knowledge have and will continue to improve their company. Many people see the work they have achieved and they want their expertise. Decklan Group is only three years old but they already have more opportunities than they do time.

My time at Decklan Group has involved much interaction with the city of Elk River. I have learned so much about this proud community. I have met the people, seen the festivals, eaten their cuisine, and experienced Elk River. Learning about the city and county government has been very insightful of how the U.S. government works. I have observed the processes in achieving success through bureaucracy. My understandings of how to get things done in government has been enhanced and I now see the importance in thoroughness.

I have learned so much from Decklan Group and experienced so many things. I went to conferences, city council meetings, toured manufacturing facilities, groundbreakings, and met with many wonderful clients. I spent many days in the office but an equal amount out and about. I created databases, got interviewed by the local paper, created newsletters, and operated software. This summer has been a wonderful learning experience. I truly loved every minute of my time with Decklan Group and I am sad that my semester is starting soon. Decklan Group is a company with integrity and I am excited to reach out to them again after I graduate.

Summer Blog Series Rambling of the Intern: 6 of 10

"Successful people keep taking action...they make mistakes, but they don't quit."

One thing I have been learning all my life is how to be proactive instead of reactive. In any given situation, your reactions will determine the outcome. However, have you ever encountered a situation where you have no idea how to react? Often when I was faced with these situations I would be beating myself up for not being prepared enough and this would cause quite a headache.

For example, in my Current Economic Issues course I was involved in a debate. This debate was regarding minimum wage and I had quite a case to abolish it. The issue that I ran into, is that I was so focused on my point of view that I didn’t prepare for any counter argument, or research any popular counter arguments to my viewpoint. This resulted in me being stumped as soon as my opponent brought up how 75% of Americans are in favor of a minimum wage increase. This was one of these counter arguments I didn’t bother to research and I was left speechless. Needless to say I lost the debate after my opponent brought up several other arguments I hadn’t prepared for.

This summer, Decklan Group has shown how beneficial it is to be proactive. With their economic development clients, Annie and Tim complete all required paperwork and have all of the facts to back up their client, prior to any staff or public meetings. Recently, at a public meeting, one of their clients was seeking approval on tax abatement. While staff was presenting the application, an incorrect tax amount was provided, which began to cause confusion regarding their client's request. Annie heard this mistake as soon as it was mentioned, and had the correct numbers on hand immediately to rectify the situation. Decklan Group is a team that is great at problem solving and if given enough heads up, can help you out, regardless of your situation.

This summer, I have learned that many people possess the same reactive quality that I used to have. They will get themselves in situations, dig themselves into holes and are faced with reactive decisions which support reaching their intended goal. These problems can easily be avoided if they would have taken extra time to be proactive and prepared for the situation.

As a business owner, while you are running your company, will you react to a faulty situation or will you be proactive and get help prior to a dilemma? Reactive actions are something I no longer struggle with thanks to Decklan Group.

Summer Blog Series Ramblings of the Intern: 5 of 10

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did.  But people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

This summer has shown me the importance of building and maintaining relationships and friendships to grow your business. Creating a new business from the ground up is difficult, however it is nearly impossible to do so without enlisting the help of people you meet along the way.

Every Decklan Group client I’ve spoken with the summer has shared with me the huge impact Decklan Group has had on their company. Similarly, my bosses have mimicked that sentiment and value the way those clients have helped shape their company and pave a path to continued success. It’s clear, that the relationship built between consultant and client benefits both parties, in this instance.

Having “a guy for that,” be it a friend, a group, or another business is what makes success possible. No one is an expert in everything, and the true measure of an entrepreneur is knowing when to seek good counsel. It may sound silly, simple, and cliché, but what I have learned this summer is that having friends pays off.

Shaking someone’s hand and exchanging business cards is not the end-game, maintaining a relationship is just as important as developing one. You have to keep in contact with those partners, even if you seldom need something from them. It’s a process of cultivating a relationship, valuing that dynamic and not treating it as a commodity.

Nourishing a genuine relationship based on trust and mutual respect with your clients is what brings your company from being mediocre to great. There is a saying that is often pushed aside in today’s digital world of impersonal, I need it right now, attitudes and that is; “People do business with people they like.” My summer internship is showing me just how valuable and true that is.

Summer Blog Series Ramblings of the Intern: 4 of 10

Our intern Steven had the privilege of attending a recent MNDEED seminar on Brownfield Development, and learned about many funding opportunities available in the always exciting world of economic development.  

Are you looking for a new place to move your business? Found the perfect property for your craft brewery, but it's filled with hazardous material? Is that run down gas station in the perfect location, but you don't have the money to redevelop the site? Don't worry, there's grant money available to help!

A building or parcel of land that is thought to be contaminated by hazardous waste or pollution (i.e.: an old laundromat or gas station) is called a brownfield site. Often times, you may come across these types of properties when seeking a new site for your business. Cleaning up these sites can be costly, however there are several grant opportunities to help with situations like these.

The MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers a program to evaluate the brownfield site and conduct the first few phases of assessment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers three grant programs that offer from $400,000 to $1,000,000, and the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development offers redevelopment grants up to $500,000, loans that cover demolition and a clean-up grant that covers up to 75% of clean-up costs. While you (the business) can't directly apply for these funds, the local unit of government can - and we can just about guarantee they'd love to help you get rid of a blighted property!

Moral of the story? If the site below is a perfect site for your business, don't run away; there's more than likely a program available for you.

Just ask Surly Brewing; they turned a blighted property into their beautiful destination craft brewery! If you have questions, ask us; we'd love to assist you.

Summer Blog Series - Ramblings of the Intern: 3 of 10


My summer internship at Decklan Group has brought me to Elk River. Deciding where I would commute from was important in the use of my time and finances. I live in Mankato, my parents live in Stacy, and my future in-laws live in Big lake. Mankato is 103 miles from Elk River, Stacy is 45 miles, and Big Lake is 11; the choice of my residence was obvious. Nancy and Gary decided to graciously take me in free of rent, while also offering me three full meals a day, and my own bedroom. This offer was optimal, so I took it. 

My first full month living there has been completed and I have a month and a half to go. To summarize my experience thus far in one word, it would be: nostalgic. Since graduating high school I have been growing up rather hastily; moving out, going to college, paying rent, supporting myself financially (somewhat) and emotionally, working full-time, getting engaged, doing my own laundry, preparing my own meals, and other various adult activities. All of these things that I’ve done have created new-found stress and frankly, I’m not sure how anyone can function as an adult. These last two years have created change and moving to my fiance's parent’s house has been unburdening. The responsibilities of adulthood have lessened, but not diminished entirely.

Some of the pros of moving in with your in-laws, in my experience, is they will treat you just as good, if not better, than their children. They constantly make sure you have enough to eat. In-laws are willing to provide financial and emotional support if needed, but are not too overbearing.

The cons of moving in with in-laws are identical to moving back home with your parents. You must follow the rules set by whomever is in charge of the house, except with your in-laws you are exempt from the rules to a certain extent. The largest con that is prevalent, which might not even be considered a con, is the fact that you are moving in with people you know very little about and their set of house rules are seldom the ones you grew up with. This unfamiliarity can provide slightly awkward situations and conversations. However, seeing as I am marrying their daughter, I think this summer has, and will continue to be, an important bonding time with some of the people my fiancee holds most dear.

If you are moving home, with in-laws, or to another city for an internship I have one warning for you. Try your best to sublease your old apartment, living in one place and paying for another is both worrisome and expensive. Living 103 miles from my apartment creates constant fear for me. Not knowing if your stuff is okay, stolen, or even if your apartment is on fire often keeps me up at night. Just as annoying is the fact that I am not living at my apartment for the last 3 months of my lease yet I am still coughing up $280 per month. That is $840 of my summer’s income that is spend on essentially a storage space. A fact that disturbs me greatly is that I know many people pay much more than $280/month for rent.

Overall this summer has been a fantastic learning experience, my internship has made my skills gained in college applicable to the real world. A greater benefit however, has been getting to know my future family.

Elk River's Art Soup - A Free Community Event

Coming to Elk River this Saturday, June 27th from 10am-6pm is the 11th annual ArtSoup Festival. Every year, this event brings swarms of people to downtown Elk River to articulate themselves and appreciate art in all forms. Hosted by the Elk River Arts Alliance, ArtSoup is the must-attend event of the summer. Over 4000 people typically attend this family friendly event and the projections are even higher for 2015.

This year’s festival features entertainment from seven groups, ranging from ballet to a country pop artist. Crankshaft is headlining the event, offering live music, best described as blues meets rock & roll. ArtSoup is filled with artists booths that cover the whole spectrum of the art community. This year, over 44 artists are exhibiting, including: glass artists, stained glass, pottery, woven rugs, South American crafts, jewelry, henna, photography, decorative paintings, and wooden carvings/burning. Every year, amazing food is available and this year is no exception. From local downtown vendors, to food trucks delivering delicious delights. McCoy’s Irish Pub will be flipping burgers outside their restaurant, Pompeii Pizzeria will be serving pizza, and Brain Freeze, an ice cream truck from Big Lake will be there as well.

Children’s activities include a balloon sculptor, art activities, and a magician who specializes in illusions and ventriloquism. Rumour has it, that someone may be cut in half by the magician this year!

This free community arts festival is a true example of a local event, with nearly every performer from Sherburne County! Hope to see you there! For more information, check out their Facebook page.