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Rushford City Council: RiverBend Electronics takes over TRW

Fri, Apr 13th, 2007
Posted in Government

RUSHFORD - RiverBend Electronics general manager Gregg Reick, using a PowerPoint presentation, introduced his company to the Rushford City Council at their regular meeting April 9. RiverBend is a new company affiliated with RiverSide Electronics of Rushford and Lewiston and RiverStar of Winona; it will occupy the east building of the former TRW plant. The company will do product startup and end-of-life electronic service builds; it will build to purchase orders and to inventory. Reick called the company a "proto lab on steroids." RiverBend will specialize in low volume assembly and will serve as a virtual warehouse for its customers. The work will be "people intense" with much hand assembly and hand soldering.

The east building of the former TRW plant with its conductive tile floor is a perfect location for the electronics assembly. The clear span warehouse will be outfitted with a new storage system. RiverBend has a $1.5 million line of credit for capital expenses; leaded insertion equipment and wave soldering equipment will be purchased first. Leveraging off of Riverside, a company with $55 million in sales last year, RiverBend will have a $2 million line of credit for materials.

Along with purchasing power, RiverSide will provide HR and IS/IT support and accounting services for RiverBend as well as an established network of suppliers and materials sources. The three companies have a combined $20 million line of credit.

According to special projects engineer, Rodney Allen, they are trying to guarantee the success of the company. Initial investors have raised about $1 million in cash. While they will use the support services of RiverSide at first, they intend to add support positions when possible at RiverBend. President Steve Craney is confident RiverBend will be as large as RiverSide in the future.

RiverBend will employ a total of forty people initially; twenty-five of which will be new employees. The other experienced employees moved to Rushford from Winona and Lewiston will be replaced with new employees as well.

Employees will work four ten-hour days, Monday through Thursday; a second night shift will be added later. A third shift working Friday through Sunday may be added after that. With such shifts, the same expensive equipment can be used to the maximum.

Answering a question from Council member Laura Deering, Allen informed the council his company was "one of the cleanest industries out there." He went on to say the company would track all lead going in and out of the plant. In Lewiston, RiverSide has reduced water consumption by more than 2/3, pulling the lead out of the water and recycling the water. Due to the electronic assembly requirements, the plant will be air-conditioned and climate controlled.

The council passed a resolution to move the JOBZ designation from five acres in the Industrial Park and 1.2 acres of other city-owned land to the building purchased by RiverBend. This resolution now must be taken to the school board and the county for approval; following that it will need to go to the state DEED for its approval.

The council also approved a quit claim deed on a small section of land near the driveway to the property, releasing any interest the city might have to facilitate the sale of the TRW property to RiverBend, and cancelled an old development agreement with Lake Center Industries signed in the 1980s.

Mayor Les Ladewig declared, "We're as excited to get you going as you are to get going!"

"Continuing the legacy"

Sue Hart, Rushford Public librarian, giving her yearly report to the council emphasized the overcrowded conditions of the library and the need to support the library. Hart called the library a vital part of the community, as she told of displaced workers coming in to complete aptitude tests, do job searches, and apply for jobs online.

Hart informed the council a record 33,291 items were checked out to 16,905 users last year. The library has over 21,000 items with 600 items currently in storage. The greatest change according to Hart is the linkage of the card catalog to the entire state via MNlink. This free service enables statewide library access.

Hart also updated the council on the status of the library construction plan. Pointing to the "good symbiotic relationship" currently enjoyed by the city and the library, Hart asked, "Do you want to come along with us (in a new building)?" With the cost of renovation nearly the cost of new construction, the library board is leaning toward a new building. The phrase "Continuing the legacy" refers to the fact the original library was donated; a new library would be an opportunity to continue the legacy, giving the community a new library. Rintek would be interested in using the current library to house the "largest nanotechnology library in the Midwest." City attorney Terry Chiglo related that, as mayor of Houston, he'd pushed for the creation of a library there. He said it was the best decision he'd made and urged the council to "do what you can!"

Hart concluded her presentation by sharing a letter regarding co-location. The library board decided against pursuing co-location with the school, citing concerns for security, inadequate physical location, previous failures of co-location ventures, the complex powers of agreement needed, and the lack of any real savings because of increased hours of operation.

Police protection

David and Kristy Johnson visited the council meeting to question response time to a burglary at their home. Their son had caught four young men in their garage around six one morning, tackling one of them. It took twenty-seven minutes for an officer to arrive after they called.

City administrator Windy Block explained this occurred during a time when the department was short staffed; a part-time officer who resides in Lanesboro had just gone off duty and had to drive from there. Apparently, the dispatcher didn't realize the burglary was ongoing-a local officer could have been called in instead.

Police protection is 21.7 hours a day; the officers rotate their shift changes and call in on their phones when going off duty. The crime just happened to occur when the shift changed.

"From time to time we have questions about whether we need all these police officers," Ladewig wryly commented.

The police department is now at full staff, however, there continues to be only 21.7 hours of coverage each day.

Other business

In other business the council:

• accepted the donation of approximately 15.5 acres of bluff land from Glenn and Robert Highum with plans to later put in a restrictive covenant to keep the land in its natural state;

• approved the purchase of the former Dreaming Horses building for $75,000;

• decided to move forward with a water treatment plant, choosing the option which would replace well house four, leaving well three up and running during the construction. A preliminary design will now be completed by BDM engineers.

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