Anoka County Economic Development and the Minnesota Tech Corridor

On August 11, 2021 the Columbus EDA hosted Bruce Saylor, Connexus Energy, and Samantha Markman, Anoka County Economic Development.  Each gave an update on the status of various economic development efforts in Anoka County today.

Samantha Markman is the County’s new Economic Development Director.  She will be working with different entities to encourage development addressing specific needs for Anoka County.  The County’s main initiatives are to change developer, stakeholder, and partner perceptions of Anoka County; ensure Anoka County is prepared for development; and to clearly define roles within the County and with regional partners.  Markman emphasized to the EDA how important partnerships across the region will be to attract the best talent and stakeholders to create thriving development.

There are four industries that Anoka County is targeting for development:  light and heavy manufacturing, distribution and trucking, data centers and technology companies, and back office/support staff.   Markman believes that Columbus’ location and infrastructure is an advantage for the City in attracting new development. 

Bruce Saylor, from Connexus Energy, also contributed to the EDA conversation on August 11th.  Saylor is Connexus’ representative with the Minnesota Technology Corridor – a partnership between entities in the area to attract tech businesses.  The group proactively seeks projects that are suited for plots of land for sale in Anoka County – including along I-35 in Columbus. 

Recently, the MN Tech Corridor team partnered with Excipio Consulting to develop a study on cost and return with investment in Anoka County.  The study specifically considers the needs of a data centers and high-tech businesses.  Results will aid the MN Tech Corridor in understanding what data center developers find desirable in a site. 

A key attribute attracting tech business to a site is for them to be fully ready for development.  This requires things like a high energy capacity, strong fiber network, a talented work force, and solid collaboration between regional entities.  Available land in Columbus has all these attributes and the MN Tech Corridor will be working with Anoka County Regional Economic Development to aggressively promote this land to a national audience and attract ideal businesses.