by Jim Boyle
Vision Transportation put just under two million miles on its fleet of school buses this past school year, and it’s preparing for a future in which it will put on even more.
Vision plans to build a 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot bus facility to house buses on a 5.07-acre site in Zimmerman that it is buying from Sherburne County. The project is designed to increase efficiencies and make it better for Vision’s workforce that often commutes to Elk River before driving bus for the family-owned company with second generation owners Wayne and Lisa Hoglund.
The Sherburne County Board of Commissioners approved on Aug. 22 a redevelopment plan on land it owns in the Sherburne County Public Safety Addition that will make this possible. The county also agreed to sell this property to the bus company, which provides service for the Elk River Area School District as well as schools in Big Lake.
Vision employs about 140 and the expansion will allow that number to grow by 30-35 people with wages ranging from $15 to $25 per hour.
The minimum taxable value of a completed project is $520,000, which will bring in approximately $18,560 per year in property taxes.
Vision will pay $55,000 for the property. The organization came across the property in March and began to pursue it.
As part of the meeting on Tuesday, a public hearing was held regarding Vision’s request to the Sherburne County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, to establish a redevelopment district and the associated project plan for Vision Enterprises, LLC.
The county has owned the vacant land since 2008. The purchase agreement calls for the sale of three county-owned lots to Vision Enterprises, and the City of Zimmerman has already signed off on it.
“This will improve our work environment,” said Jason Anderson, director of business development for Vision Enterprises, LLC. “Our employees won’t have to drive nine miles to work before they board their bus. We should have shorter routes and better efficiency.
“The location is within 2.5 miles of all the schools and we’ll be able to increase our efficiency.”
Anderson said Vision Enterprises would like to start building this fall.
Vision had 66 big bus routes, 17 special education routes and 18 van routes last school year for Elk River.
Last year all Zimmerman buses came out of Elk River. This year they will be based out of DaRan Trucking in Zimmerman while the new facility is built.
The final “routing” isn’t complete for 2017-2018 school year but it appears with the new Prairie View Elementary and Middle School in Otsego, it will be adding at least eight routes.
Vision is hiring in Zimmerman, Elk River, Big Lake, and Rogers for school bus drivers, van drivers and bus assistants.