In a column submitted by Don Bye, there were a number of comments about AGCO, a Duluth, Ga.-based manufacturer of agricultural equipment, and the community of Jackson, Minn.
While we understand Mr. Bye’s desire for job creation in Brainerd, we wanted to clarify some statements he made about AGCO, the company’s recent and future expansion planned in Jackson, and our community. You see, AGCO is one of our community’s longtime, major employers.
AGCO has been in business since 1991, and today employs more than 1,300 workers in Jackson — many who have worked at the facility for more than 20 years. They’re a testament to the quality employment AGCO provides our citizens and to the value AGCO places in its Jackson manufacturing team.
We’re proud that our community, a town of 3,299 in southwest Minnesota, has been a home to farm equipment manufacturing since 1963, when a local resident founded Ag-Chem Equipment Company as a distributor of spraying equipment. Ag-Chem was purchased by AGCO in 2001 and was quickly expanded in 2002 when AGCO purchased the Challenger line of track tractors from Caterpillar and began building them in Jackson.
Today, through the cooperative effort of private economic development organizations, plus city, county, state and federal government agencies, Jackson is home to Challenger and Massey Ferguson high-horsepower wheeled row crop tractors as well the Challenger track tractors and crop input application equipment originally manufactured here.
Manufacturing of the company’s popular wheeled row crop tractors came to Jackson in 2011, and it was heralded by Gov. Mark Dayton as “good for jobs and good for Minnesota.” These products were moved to Minnesota from Beauvais, France, so AGCO could better meet the needs of North American farmers and so the plant in France could be used to more efficiently build tractors for European farmers.
With the addition of the new tractor line, AGCO’s existing 856-person work force in Jackson increased by 100. In addition, more than 200 jobs that would have moved out of Minnesota remained due to the cooperative efforts of AGCO and our community.
The Jackson AGCO facility was selected to build these two brands of tractors for many reasons, a major one being our community’s existing work force. With nearly 50 years of ag manufacturing in Jackson, there is a long-standing tradition of dedication, excellence and hard work that brings agriculture some of the highest-quality and most-respected products on the market.
The heritage and work ethic of the residents of southwest Minnesota were among the deciding factors as AGCO entertained offers from across the nation to manufacture its most advanced machines.
Jackson sits at the intersection of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 71, both major thoroughfares. Our location benefits AGCO and our Industrial Park’s other manufacturers and affects their decisions to locate and expand in Jackson. The support from the city and county of Jackson, the state of Minnesota, the surrounding community and area businesses helped clinch AGCO’s decision to expand here. AGCO is committed to the Jackson community, as well as our partnership.
Certainly, in the next three years, as AGCO completes nearly $42 million in additional expansion, and several other Industrial Park businesses complete expansions, they will all need more employees. They can be assured that the city and county of Jackson, the Jackson Economic Development Corporation and other resources will work through the challenges together to ensure there is housing, amenities, shopping and, to that end, more available employees. The challenges that our community faces are challenges many other communities across the state would love to have.
If you’d like to know more about the Jackson community and what we have to offer, check us out at www.targetjackson.com. If you would like to know more about our school system and our Minnesota West campus, go to www.jccschools.com or www.mnwest.edu.
You can learn more about AGCO at http://Jackson.AGCOcorp.com. Tours of the AGCO manufacturing plant are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and its Intivity Center visitors’ center is open weekdays.
Minnesota is a great place to live and to do business. The community of Jackson has been successful in partnering with AGCO and other manufacturers to bring employment to our region. Hopefully, the communities of Brainerd and Pine River can achieve the same success.
(Wayne Walter is mayor of the city of Jackson; Clayton Lewis is president of the Jackson Economic Development Corporation.)