BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – The Lee County Economic Development Group logo hangs lonely on a wall behind a welcome counter, while simple white pieces of paper with office names printed in black are taped next to doors at the former KL Megla building in Montrose.
LCEDG, through Southeast Iowa Regional Economic & Port Authority officials are expecting to close on the building possibly this week.
The move will allow the LCEDG staff to move from it’s current leased location in Kindustry Park to the new more centrally located location along Hwy. 61 just across the highway from the Montrose Dollar General.
The SIREPA board issued a pre-lease letter of intent Tuesday outlining the groups’ respective responsibilities in the ownership of the building. SIREPA will be the owner of the building and lease it to LCEDG to develop into a Joint Education Center or Career Exploration Center for Lee County youth and adults alike.
Southeastern Community College has taken a leadership role in the new venture and Central Lee officials are back on board after stepping away in 2020 citing poor communication in the effort and lack of a solid financial plan.
SIREPA entered into a 3-year finance agreement with Connection Bank for right at $1 million for the purchase of the building. SIREPA functions as a municipality under Iowa law and can take advantages of tax incentives and other benefits, as well as taking on a more vital role in economic development in the area, with its involvement in the project.
SIREPA is just one of two port authorities recognized in the state of Iowa.
“We’re just waiting to close, I think by the end of the week we’ll be out here,” said LCEDG President Dennis Fraise.
“We’re just happy to be here. We’re putting $100,000 into the project as part of our contribution, and we appreciate the partnership with the port authority. We’re very excited.”
LCEDG officials and members of the center’s steering committee traveled to Waterloo two weeks ago to tour a similar facility there. Officials with Keokuk School systems also made an earlier trip to the Waterloo center to see what advantages could be drawn from a facility in Lee County.
The KL Megla facility includes 30,000 square foot main building and another 10,000 square foot warehouse on the properties northwest corner. The buildings sit on approximately 13 acres and the property is valued at $1.2 million.