Help wanted for workforce housing

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published a feature story on how housing development for workers lags job growth in some district communities.

Newport Laboratories belongs to a new breed of employer in Worthington, a city of 13,000 in southwestern Minnesota known primarily for pork processing.

Newport, a locally founded firm that was acquired in 2012 by a French animal health care firm, performs diagnostic testing and manufactures veterinary vaccines. The company, one of several animal health firms in the Worthington area, employs veterinarians, researchers, lab technicians and other professionals, many of them recent college graduates.

Newport is the type of new-economy employer that small communities everywhere covet. But companies looking to move to or expand in Worthington run into a problem: a dearth of new local housing.

“In this community, we’ve got a great school system and other amenities, but housing opportunities—whether that’s good rental opportunities, quality entry-level housing—there’s a gap there,” said Dan Greve, Newport’s business operations director. Almost all of Worthington’s housing stock is decades old; city records show that over the past five years, fewer than 30 new homes and only eight apartment units have been built in town.

“If a recruit feels they don’t have an opportunity for suitable housing, that may deter them from choosing to come to work for Newport,” Greve said.

Read the full story in the fedgazette online.

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