Businesses increase in 2013

Adam Larck
Neal Vanloo speaks about Blain’s Farm & Fleet at the Jan. 28 Economic Development Council luncheon.

The business section in Morton saw great growth in 2013.

At the Economic Development Council luncheon Jan. 28, board of director president Brad Braker said that it was a record year in business construction for the village.

Last year, commercial construction totaled $25.3 million, well above the annual goal of $9.46 million. Leading the way in construction for the village were the new Monsanto and Farm & Fleet projects.

Another goal that more than doubled were the amount of new jobs created. Braker said 314.5 new jobs were created, while the goal for 2013 was 150 new jobs.

The last annual goal, meeting $3.3 million in retail sales tax, was also surpassed, with area businesses bringing in $3.9 million in retail sales tax.

Braker also focused on the 10 new business expansions and eight new businesses that came to Morton last year, which generated $257,115 in new property tax.

The EDC also handed out four facade grants that totaled $16,175. The grants helped the businesses make a combined $58,210 in improvements.

Five microgrants were also awarded for $13,500 in total.

Braker also announced the drive to raise $1 million for the Morton plaza.

"Thanks to the hard work of our downtown development committee and village officials, we have a plaza that fits into the space for it and is under the original budget," he said.

After Braker's 2013 recap, Neal Vanloo, the director of engineering for Blain's Farm & Fleet, was the keynote speaker.

Vanloo said that current construction on the 30-acre site on East Courtland Street is about five weeks behind due to the weather.

"We saw some people working there earlier," he said. "As we sat in our warm car, we said we thought they were nuts."

The work on the 127,000-foot facility has been done by various local groups, which Vanloo said has put $6 million into the local economy.

Vanloo also detailed the energy efficiency measures that are being put into the area. The store will feature skylights to let the store use less artificial light during the day, and the service center will burn used oil to heat the department when needed.

Outside, the parking lot will use LED lighting, the second store in the company to do so.

Vanloo spoke in place of company President Bob Blain, who had a family medical emergency.