Alexandria, MN is #1, 17th in Nation…

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Growth Doesn’t Just Happen

We’re #1

as one of the top “micropolitans”…good news, thanks to all who made this happen, which quite frankly are the business leaders (not the politicians, sorry) who had the vision and the courage to forge ahead. So thank the folks at 3M, Pfeninger Warehousing, Peaceful Bliss and Douglas Machine. These four projects are the ones that created the status, although you don’t hear from the business folks about it, they are too busy working. Again, thank you to Tom and Jim, Judy, Vern and Paul, and all the shareholders and leadership at 3M, for risking your own money to make Alexandria a better place to live and work.
I am convinced of this area’s potential to leap ahead of all the surrounding communities in terms of growth and quality of life. I believe that the real estates value will increase at a disproportianate rate compared to outlying areas. I also believe that people, given an opportunity to find work and suitable housing, will tend to migrate to this area over and above other areas because of the education facilities, recreational opportunities and the stable environment that the Alexandria area offers.
For this reason, my wife and I have invested untold sums of time and money into this belief; that when hard work and risk are placed into an area that is growing demographically will pay off in “spades” as you move through life.
Alexandria, MN…look back twenty years, then look ahead 20 years and tell me what you see. Where are you going to live? Where are you going to invest in real estate? I believe that the future will be better than the past. How about you? What do you believe?

I have enclosed the two articles from the alexandria, MN Echo Press that talk about the “micropolitan” status.

Source: Alexandria Echo Press Newspaper

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Current Housing Inventory

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Inventory levels of housing are running high here in the Alexandria area. Here are the stats as of this morning:

RESIDENTIAL ACTIVE: Total 659 listings, 318 in Douglas County
LAKEHOME ACTIVE: Total 397 listings, 237 in Douglas County

Residential…In comparison to the past…
9.25.05: 482 listings at peak
6.30.06: 657 listings at peak
7.13.07: 663 listings at peak
8.28.08: 658 listings at peak
9.30.09: 617 listings at peak (Douglas County listings peaked at 325 on 7.21.09)

Lakehome Listings…In comparison to the past
10.6.05: 233 listings at peak
7.26.06: 375 listings at peak
7.30.07: 417 listings at peak
8.13.08: 402 listings at peak
8.26.09: 413 listings at peak (Douglas County listings peaked at 251 actives)

It looks like this won’t be the year that inventory levels show some signs of declining. We may never go back to the inventory levels from 2005 and prior. Because of the sheer volume of more people and more land parcels, this may be the norm. Check in with me a couple of years from now, Lord willing, and I will make a comment on the inventory again as to how it compares with 2010. Any comments out there on this stuff?

Source: Greater Alexandria Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service

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Douglas County…how we stack up by building permits

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We (or should I say Kim) did some research to ascertain how Alexandria and Douglas County stack up against our good neighbors surrounding us. This is a compilation of dollars worth of construction for 2009 in the counties that adjoin Douglas County and the Alexandria area. The population numbers are from the US Census Bureau and are the 2009 estimate. Here’s what we found out by phone interviews with their respective Land and Resource Departments:

~ TODD COUNTY: $19,087,000 in permit value, 23,869 population = $800 value/person

~ GRANT COUNTY: $6,103,100 in permit value, 5,835 population = $1,046 value/person

~ OTTERTAIL CTY: $90,773,600 in permit value, 56,588 population=$1,604 value/person

~ POPE COUNTY: $13,032,700 in permit value, 10,869 population = $1,199 value/person

~ STEVENS COUNTY: $7,892,600 in permit value, 9,629 population = $820 value/person

~ TRAVERSE COUNTY: $3,020,900 in permit value, 3,573 population = $845 value/person

~ DOUGLAS COUNTY: $71,752,884 in permit value, 36,390 populatn=$1,972 value/person

I kind of wondered if the Alexandria area didn’t possibly have the lead on dollars invested per person compared to our neighboring counties. The numbers in 2008 were better yet. Again, we compiled this list from research done by phone with the resepective counties building departments, we feel confident in their accuracy. The respective county numbers included their cities building permits as we were told. The Douglas County numbers include Alexandria city, so to make sure all was equal, we asked for all the building permit values that would have included their municipalities as well. If more information is found, please feel free to relay that to us.

The reason behind this was to continue to show that the surrounding Alexandria area is growing at a disproportiate rate compared to the outlying area. The Alexandria community is fast becoming a regional mecca. So how do you think that the outlying area will look in Minnesota, say 20 to 30 years from now? I would love to hear some comments on this…

Source: US Census Bureau, respective County Building Departments

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Consumer Confidence

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Consumer Confidence Index rose 5.6 points in May to 63.3, which is it’s highest reading since March 2008. As stated before, the Consumer Confidence Index is a “truth indicator” of the marketplace. I must say, that it has been a long two years in the real estate business with the consumer’s confidence so shaken. Given time, it has been steadily improving, I am excited about the future. DON’T WAIT TO BUY REAL ESTATE, BUY REAL ESTATE AND WAIT…preferrably in Alexandria, Minnesota.

Source: Conference Board

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Lessons Learned On Investing…25 Years Worth

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This guy is good. Great article, read and enjoy
25 years

Source: Wells Fargo Securities, LLC

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Alexandria, MN Projects…Moving Along

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This project is just west of the mall, it is an 8208 square foot retail building. We have the north space leased, the center space is also spoken for and we have about 2700 square feet remaining in the south portion yet to be leased. The steel went up this week, wood goes up next week. It’s been a fun project.

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Brophy Bay is SOLD

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Brophy Bay is SOLD! The new Buyer is Gary and Karen Dobmeier. Their targeted opening date, they told me, is May 22nd. Let’s all wish them well and patronize their establishment.

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Alexandria, MN Area Economic Development Commission

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From their Economic Insight, April 2010:
“There is a certain difficulty in preparing for the next generation of workers at this time, as our economy begins to move out of the recession and businesses begin the recovery process. While the need to focus on increasing both sales and efficiencies is of crucial importance, the potential workforce challenges that are facing companies throught the nation and the world continue to loom in the not to distant future. The effects of the Baby Boomer retirements over the coming years will be felt by all industry sectors, and thought must be given as to how to address and overcome these challenges.

Starting in 2008, the Baby Boomer generation began to reach age 62 (the average retirement age for U.S. workers). 2008 saw a 30% increase in the number of Minesota workers turning 62, with an estimated 52,000 individuals reaching retirement age (up from 40,000 in 2007). During 2011, it is estimated that 60,000 Baby Boomers will turn 62 across Minnesota. This growing wave of potential retirees will put significant strain on local and state businesses and organizations as they work to replace retirees and develop innovations to decrease total workforce needs.

To look at impacts locally, based upon estimates of the State Demographer’s Office, Douglas County is currently home to an estimated 6,640 individuals age 65 and older (2010 estimate). This age group makes up roughly 18% of our local population. By 2035, Douglas County is projected to be home to 13,420 individuals age 65 and over which will equal almost 29% of the total estimated population.

The impacts of the aging population will not only be felt by businesses, but by communitites and regions across the nation and around the world. As stated by MN State Demographer Tom Gillaspy, “The keys to survival and growth for businessess and the state will be directly tied to education and workforce – training, drive and innovations.” Without a strong workforce, communities and regions will be sorely pressed to retain and grow their existing businesses, not to mention be extremely challenged to be attractive to organizations from outside of the area.

Based upon data gathered through an informal survey process in 2008, large employers across Douglas County shared that they are projecting significant employee turnover due to retirement in the coming 5-10 years, with one large manufacturer projecting as much as 30% turnover. According to Gillaspy, businesses shouldn’t rely on retirement-age workers significantly extending their employment to fill this employment gap even for short term: “Future retirement ages may increase slightly, but people will likely be working just 1 to 2 additional years prior to retiring.”

In a growing effort to increase awareness of regional career opportunities and to address future workforce concerns on the local level, a number of partnerships between schools and businesses are gaining traction to develop new business-based curriculum within our K-12 school systems. In one example, Alexandria District 206 is working to utilize Project Lead the Way curriculum with support from a number of manufacturing businesses and support organizations to provide innovative, integrated coursework for students interested in math, science, engineering related careers. Other districts throughout the region are forming similar partnerships to both create a broader awareness of career opportunities and to provide hands-on learning opprotunities to develop our future workforce.

At the post-seondary level, Alexandria Technical College continues to respond to companies from throughout the region to develop[ traditional and Customized Training Programs to meet the educational needs of the current and future workforce. According to ATC President, Dr. Kevin Kopischke, “Alexandria Technical College continues to focus on its two main sectors: Those who are in need of career entry or career-changing learning opportunities and incumbent workers who are in need of up-skilling or retooling of their skill sets. A major factor that will continue to be on the horizon for all of this state and country is our ability to capture the awareness and interest of high-school student to engage them in manufacturing and other science and math related careers. We simply must build more connections between K-12 and our regional two-year colleges that provide students with access to college-level work as they prepare for their careers. This learning and teaching design which was once viewed as a “future opportunity” is in front of us today, and we need to be very diligent about implementing it immediately.

As so aptly stated by Tom Gillaspy (State Demographer) and Tom Stinson (State Economist), “The ‘normal’ of yesterday is gone. We need to accept this and move forward. While the changes may be frightening, times of great change are the times when great organizations get started and great opportunities are created.” We need to embrace the change and move forward to take advatage of the opportunities that have been created for our businesses, communities, and future workforce”.

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Alexandria, MN School District 206. Phase II

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From the Spring 2010 Alexandria 206 newsletter:
Phase II: Long-range Facility Improvement Plan
In 2006, the Board of Education researched and developed a plan to address the long-term facility needs of the district. After gathering community input, the board approved a two phase plan to address the district’s facilities needs.

Phase I of the facilities plan concluded with the opening of Woodland Elementary and the purchase of property for a future high school. The future high school site is a 167-acre parcel of land located at the intersection of 50th Avenue and Pioneer Road. By securing land in Phase I, District 206 voters showed support for taking the first step toward building a new high school.

Phase II – Future High School Plan
Phase II of the district’s long-range facility improvement plan focuses on needs at Jefferson High School, proposing a referendum for a new high school in 3-5 years. The following paragraphs summarize the progress on Phase II planning that would provide for a new high school for grades 9-12 to replace Jefferson HIgh School.

Community Survey
In October 2009, the Board of Education approved a survey of 400 randomly selected district residents in which 60% of those surveyed were supportive of the new high school initiative. In addition, 74% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that District 206 has kept the promises made during the 2007 Phase I bond campaign.
The District was also given very high marks by community members in all of the survey’s qualitive measures such a s perceptions of overall quality, facilities, serving the needs of the community, financial management, and trust.

Site Work and Construction Delivery Model
At the January 25th regular board meeting, the board took action to accept the low bid from Anderson-Johnson Associates for civil engineering services related to wetland mitigation and road entrances at the future high school site.
In addition, based on presentations and discussions over the last couple of months, the Board approved using construction management as the delivery model for a future high school project.

Capital Campaign Feasibility Study
Working in conjuction with the Alexandria Public Schools Education Foundation, the Board approved an agreement with Hansen Henley Yoder & Lamb of Minneapolis to complete a Feasibility Study for District 206 regarding a possible capital campaign as it relates to the construction of a high school. The consultants have begun interviewing a group of community leaders to gather feedback to help strengthen the work and future direction of the high school project.

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