Winnebago city leaders know they can’t stop Zierke Built Mfg., Inc. from moving to Fairmont, however, they want to strike a deal with company officials before they leave.
On Tuesday night, the City Council tabled a request from Zierke Built vice president Kyle Zierke to sign a letter saying the city is OK with the company leaving.
City Administrator Chris Ziegler says council members need to sign off on the relocation because the company has obtained state funding in the past with the city’s help. By doing so, it allows Zierke Built to apply for state monies that may be needed.
“Under state law there’s a clause to keep communities from pirating companies from their neighbors,” says Ziegler.
Zierke Built president Greg Zierke has cited a limited workforce and not enough space are reasons preventing the company’s expansion and the need to find a new site.
“I met with Kyle and he expressed several times that we met their expectations,” Ziegler says. “He also told me they are planning to sell the buildings.”
City officials have been looking for a bigger facility to house the Public Works Department, so Ziegler suggested the council seek an option agreement to purchase one of the buildings in exchange for signing a letter.
Council member Jean Anderson says she doesn’t want Winnebago to get a reputation of being difficult to work with but they need to have some bargaining power.
“We’re doing them a big favor and we should get something out of it,” she says.
Councilman Scott Robertson says he doesn’t want to hinder any business that’s trying to improve and shouldn’t stand in the way.
During a radio show Wednesday morning on KBEW, Ziegler says Zierke’s decision to leave Winnebago,“came out of the blue,” and “it’s kind of a shock for all of us.”
“We want to take time and take a deep breath before we decide what to do next,” says Ziegler.
Council members directed City Attorney David Frundt to draw up terms and conditions for an option agreement that will be presented to the Zierkes.