It took several years, overcoming a few unexpected challenges and a change in location, but last Thursday, dignitaries from Dairyland Power, the City of Harmony and building contractors celebrated the opening of the Dairyland Service Center in Harmony.
The 23,000-square-foot facility is located on 10 acres of land in the northwest edge of Harmony. The majority of the building is dedicated to vehicle, material and equipment storage while the remaining space is used for office and meeting space. While the number of staff working from the location may vary depending on the project, it is estimated that 10 to 12 employees will be based at the Harmony facility, including linemen and telecom operators.
Those attending the dedication ceremony heard remarks from Harmony Mayor Steve Donney and Dairyland President and CEO Brent Ridge and were treated to an inside look of the facility.
“The facility will support the safe and reliable delivery of electricity by serving as a regional base of operations for area line and electrical maintenance crew members, as well as a telecommunications presence,” Ridge explained. “Dairyland is grateful for the support from the city of Harmony, MiEnergy Cooperative and the local business community for making this project successful.”
Ridge joined Dairyland as its president and CEO about two years ago, coming into the project when it was well underway. He pointed out the project had its challenges with subsurface conditions that caused Dairyland to look at alternative sites and some budgeting challenges that also had to be addressed. However, through it all, there were great people working to make the project come to fruition.
He acknowledged the architects from River Valley Architects who designed the building; Knutson Construction that built the building; the governance of Dairyland Power; executives from MiEnergy; the Dairyland staff and team that will be stationed there; and the City of Harmony and its EDA.
“A building like this helps us to safely execute our mission,” Ridge added. “It also represents our commitment to the City of Harmony. We are going to be here for decades and decades to come. This facility allows us to grow and we are grateful for our partnership with Harmony. It shows our absolute commitment to the community.”
Ridge sees Dairyland as being a strong community partner, with staff being involved and supportive of community, schools and businesses.
Mayor Steve Donney also spoke to those gathered, welcoming Dairyland executives, staff and community members to the dedication. He said the city and the EDA were committed to accommodating the Dairyland project and making it work for Harmony and the power company. He thanked EDA Director Chris Giesen for his persistence as well as Dairyland project managers and construction supervisors for being open to new possibilities while working through the challenges they faced. He also thanked Bill and Roxanne Johnson for selling land from their farm to create a location for the new facility.
“Through this project, Harmony was also able to improve our infrastructure as well,” Donney added. “We are very happy to have Dairyland stay in town which allows the employees be able to live and work here.”
Regional contractors were also recognized during the program as well as during the ribbon cutting following the presentations. Those included Knutson Construction, Morem Electric, Canton Heating & Cooling, Haugerud Painting, Kingsley Mercantile, Newline Mechanical, Winona Heating & Ventilating and River Valley Architects.
Dairyland has also planted three acres of pollinator habitat around the Harmony Service Center site with a “Pollinator Palooza” seed mix. Once established, the 47 species of shortgrass will support bee, butterfly and insect pollinator populations.