RUPERT – The Minidoka County Commissioners gave initial approval for the city to expand its urban renewal district into the county’s own urban renewal district.
Rupert City Administrator Kelly Anthon met with commissioners on Monday to discuss the expansion. The venture comes as a result of the soon-to-be-built 200,000 square foot Frulact facility on the Gene Stoker property west of Rupert.
“Currently, the county has placed all of its un-incorporated land into an urban renewal district. The city of Rupert’s entire city boundaries are inside the urban renewal district. If we extended the city boundaries, we would like to simultaneously extend urban renewal boundaries (into the county),” Anthon said.
Anthon sought permission to expand those boundaries. The commissioners agreed to create a resolution allowing for the expansion at a later date.
Commission Chairman Bob Moore thanked Anthon for making the arrangements prior to Frulact setting up shop.
“We talked at one other time that, if you foresee something, we would rather have zoning changes made prior to a company coming in so we didn’t complicate the issue when they came in. As your plan changes, you
need to keep in touch with us to allow us to make changes that fit with what you guys want to do,” he said.
Some of those changes include expanding the city’s wastewater and water services.
“We would have to extend our wastewater line to the tune of $290,000. We would have to improve our waterline. We have an existing 12-inch line on our property that’s in phenomenal shape, but we would have to expend $150,000 to finish that out,” Anthon said, and added, “A natural gas line on the Paul Highway South would have to be extended that will cost around $80,000. We’ll have to provide some electrical system upgrades.”
To pay for those changes, the city is looking into numerous grants such as a Community Block Grant that could provide as much as $500,000 toward the various projects.
“We are first looking to grant funds to pay for these improvements. To the extent we can’t use grants, we will use tax increments inside a revenue allocation area to pay for those,” he said.
Anthon reminded the commissioners of the economic boon expected from Frulact arriving in town. The company has pledged to hire 100 workers.
“Those funds are specifically tied to jobs. They don’t give the dollars unless they prove a commitment for the first two years of operation to provide so many jobs. They also provide the information of what the pay will be for those jobs. What I’m seeing will be very good jobs,” Anthon said.
While the majority of the jobs will be line production jobs, Frulact is also creating a research and development division.
“These are usually people who have a food science background,” he said.
Frulact produces fruit-based foods. The company develops custom-made fruit preparations for leading food labels in the dairy, beverage, ice cream and industrial pastry markets throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Anthon says that the Frulact’s food reminds him of making jam.
“They add pectin, flavorings, color and sugar. It is a very, very good fit for our community. It won’t create any air quality problems. I’ve been at the factory and never smelled anything outside. Inside it smells like jam,” he said.
Anthon noted that Frulact and Rupert have been the subject of conversation worldwide.
“Rupert, Idaho is on the map right now. It’s caused quite a buzz in different places. We’ve had press all over Europe. The secretary of the United States Department of Commerce mentioned us in a speech a month ago. We’ve had a lot of exposure,” he said.
In business for 25 years, Frulact operates in Portugal, France, Morocco and South Africa. The Rupert facility will be the first stateside operation for the company.
The commissioners meet again at 9 a.m., Monday, Jan 27, at the Minidoka County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public. For more information call 436-71111.