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Northland Electric eyes expansion

City of New London may donate land

By Scott Bellile

Northland Electrical Services is looking to build a new facility and sell its current one because owners say the company has outgrown its building.

New London’s economic development committee on Jan. 26 unanimously approved a recommendation to city council to authorize a donation of 3.6 acres of vacant parcel located next to Northland’s current facility. As part of the agreement, Northland would build the facility there no smaller than 25,000 square feet by Dec. 31, 2018.

“If 2016 is financially a good year, we would break ground in 2017,” Northland President Corey Defferding told the committee. He said Northland would proceed with construction whether or not its current building is sold by then.

New London’s city council, which has final say on the project, unanimously approved the land donation on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

City Administrator Kent Hager said the proposed facility assessed at $1.7 million would generate $38,000 in annual property taxes, of which the city’s portion would be $14,200.

Northland’s proposed 28,125-square foot facility would lie at the northwest intersection of Orville Drive and Maple Creek Lane in the Northeast New London Business Center, off of County Trunk DD.

The facility is “oversized” in the design plan in order to accommodate 100 to 150 workers, Defferding said, to lessen the chance of the company outgrowing another facility one day. When asked by committee member Tom O’Connell if it’s possible the company could house a startup company in its extra space during the facility’s early years, Defferding said yes.

Northland started in 2002 with six or seven employees and now employs 65 full-time workers and 10 to 15 part-time, according to Defferding. He said turnover is low because the company devotes resources less to increasing staff and more to “training them from the ground up,” although it does grow two to four workers per year.

In recent years the company hired on seven or eight trained New London High School graduates through its apprenticeship program, Northland Vice President Tom Collar said.

Mayor Gary Henke said Northland gives students a valuable opportunity by building up their skills to a permanent position.

“When you bring them up like that, train them like that, give them a well-paying job like that, you’re going to get a lot more loyalty,” Henke said.

Committee members applauded Defferding and Collar following the discussion. Committee chairman Dave Morack called Northland’s request a success story the community likes to hear.

“They are really good at apprenticeships,” alderman Tom O’Connell said prior to the city council approving the land donation on Tuesday. “That means growth for our young people. These apprenticeships are very important. It’s not just giving land away.”

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