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Technology Park rises from bare acres

Paul Bunyan Telephone Cooperative, left, and Beltrami Electric Cooperative were the charter tenants of the Bemidji Technology Park. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The Bemidji Technology Park puts high-tech operations in a rural setting.

The 80-acre park was opened in 1996, by Cooperative Development LLC, a joint venture of Paul Bunyan Telephone Cooperative and Beltrami Electric Cooperative, to provide space for the development of companies associated with the telecommunications and technology industries.

The land was originally owned by Milas and Lucine Kaiser.

The park is designed to provide companies in high-technology industries with an opportunity to do business in a semi-rural area without sacrificing the services and facilities their businesses need.

The park consisted of about 63 acres and was divided into 18 lots.

"The intent of the park was to provide economic development for the area and a location for business to develop that needed high tech power and communication services," said Paul Freude, CEO and general manager of Paul Bunyan Telephone.

The land was annexed into the city of Bemidji so water, sewer and streets could be extended into the park, Freude said.

The first building in the park was constructed by Coop Development for lease to Optical Solutions Inc., a high-tech startup company that was developing a fiber-to-the-premises communication delivery product. The company later moved to Plymouth, Minn., and was later sold to Calix Corporation, which continues to sell FTTP products today.

The building was sold to Pinnacle Publishing, a telephone directory publishing business that continues to operate in the park.

Beltrami Electric, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Chiropractic Sport and Spinal Rehab and Dakota Supply have all since become residents of the Technology Park. About 150 people work in the park today.

The park has all paved roads and full utilities. Fifty-nine acres are in the JOBZ tax-exempt development zone.

Of the original 18 lots, five remain for future development.

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