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News Perham, 56573
Perham Focus
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Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Perham has politely declined to take part in the economic recession.

Not only are Perham's food processing companies performing well--even the town's trademark turtle races are setting records for attendance.

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That's the message the Perham Area Chamber of Commerce has been delivering this summer--and by most indicators, it's an accurate assessment.

The food processing business--for both pets and humans--is clipping along at a 40 to 60 percent rate, reported Kenny Nelson, owner of KLN Enterprises, at the July 14 Chamber "Power Hour" meeting.

A few highlights from Nelson's update on KLN's three major food enterprises:

---Barrel O' Fun snacks are selling at a 40 percent pace above 2008. The company is in the midst of adding a 81,000 square foot building.

---KLN is looking at building a 20,000 square foot office for its Perham headquarters, though a timeline hasn't been confirmed.

---Barrel O' Fun's new Phoenix operation is expected to be in production by the end of the year, or early next year. The Arizona location positions the company to serve five southwest states, said Nelson.

---Kenny's Candies, Perham's maker of licorice products, is experiencing sales of 15 percent over last year. That's not as much as Nelson would like to see, but far better than most sectors are performing in these economic times.

---Chocolate production is the next phase for Kenny's Candies, as the firm is planning to expand to chocolate-covered pretzels, chips and popcorn, reported Nelson.

---Tuffy's Pet Foods are selling at a remarkable 60 percent ahead of last year.

---A 40,000 square foot addition to Tuffy's is planned later this year. The permit for the warehouse addition was approved last month, at an estimated construction value of $1.3 million.

"We're not much for resting on our laurels," said Nelson at the Chamber meeting.

The key to success for KLN is simple. Despite difficult economic times; people still have to eat, and pets have to eat, said Nelson.

Good facilities, and good people, are also key to KLN's prosperity, he added.

Other signs of Perham's recession-proof status:

---Bongards' Creameries has experienced good sales, and the cheese and whey-maker recently added facilities in Perham

---The Jennie O Turkey store received a city permit last month to build new corn storage bins, at an estimated value of $1.2 million.

And finally, thanks to Perham's economic diversity, tourism and recreation spending provides a seasonal boost.

One way to measure the impact of travel-hospitality on the area is simple: Attendance at the weekly, summer turtle races.

A new record was set at the July 1 turtle races, reported Chamber director Dan Schroeder proudly. A total of 483 racers competed--up from the previous record of 411, said Schroeder.

"And about 75 percent of those people are from out of town," said Schroeder, emphasizing that those visitors are bringing "new money" into town.

From a retail standpoint, Schroeder said the July 4th holiday weekend was excellent.

The turtle race report brought a round of applause from the Power Hour audience--more evidence that Perham is resisting the recession.

City permits show $3.1 million in new building

After a slow start to the construction season, activity boomed in June--based on building permits issued by the city of Perham.

A whopping $3.1 million in construction was permitted at city hall.

The list was topped by about $1.8 million in construction activity at Tuffy's Pet Foods--including a $1.3 million warehouse project and $437,938 in insulation, roof, door and dock work.

At the Jennie-O Turkey Store, corn storage bins will be constructed--at an estimated $1.2 million.

Kelly Bean Company will be building an office and interior shop space, valued at $130,214.

Pine Shelter Veterinary was approved for a $5,000 shingling job. Bretz Hardware applied for a $12,000 re-roofing.

Perham's U.S. Post Office will be re-roofed at a cost of $4,000.

Residential permits representing a value of $86,475 were approved. Sixteen permits were approved, all but one for siding, deck, roofing and window jobs at less than $10,000 each.

There were no new home permits issued in June.

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