The first year of Otter Tail County’s Big Build initiative saw progress and success for housing growth.

In 2020, $39.3 million in housing investment was added in the county from 656 new and rehabbed housing units; 427 of these being new construction and 229 being rehabbed units, according to an Otter Tail County news release. This progresses the county towards the Big Build’s goal of 5,000 new, preserved or significantly rehabbed units by 2025, and represents a 19% increase in new construction countywide compared to 2019.

The Otter Tail County Community Development Agency launched the Big Build at the end of 2019 as a housing growth and investment initiative. The initiative was created to address workforce needs and existing residents’ needs, according to the release.

“The Big Build initiative is truly an economic engine for the county,” Otter Tail County Commissioner Lee Rogness said in the release.

In Perham, Roach Development, the Perham Economic Development Authority and the city of Perham are making progress on Aleshire Park twin homes. This development will bring 40 new two and three-bedroom units to the Perham community in mid-summer 2021 to a neighbor near Perham Health.

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"I'm looking forward to just that extra housing that we'll have available in Perham," Nick Murdock, EDA director said in an interview. "Hopefully it'll open up some other areas too that those residents moving out of maybe their homes in town and those will go on the market ... and just kind of spur our real estate market a little bit."

Rogness explained the domino effect of housing growth on communities.

“New twin homes open opportunities for older people to move into lower maintenance, smaller homes, which frees up multiple bedroom homes for families. When single-family homes open, new families can move to our communities," he said. "This benefits our schools, helps close the workforce gap, and brings welcome local spending to our business community. Housing growth also provides construction jobs and capacity growth of local tradesmen.”

The Big Build progress report as of 2020. The initiative started in December 2019.
Courtesy of Otter Tail County
The Big Build progress report as of 2020. The initiative started in December 2019. Courtesy of Otter Tail County

With more than 1,000 available jobs in the county, increasing the housing supply will help meet the needs of newcomers filling these job openings and existing residents seeking more suitable housing options.

The county’s property tax rebate program is one component of the larger Big Build initiative that was put into place to specifically encourage new investment and construction of single and two-family homes. This program also saw great success in its first year with 102 applications. Applicants to the program can receive up to a $10,000 rebate of their future property taxes, up to $5,000 of the county portion of property taxes as well as the city portion of taxes in select communities.

“The timing for this initiative is impeccable with a surge in demand for small-town living and wide-open spaces. The partners that are doing the work to amplify The Big Build are better equipped than ever to write this success story,” Rogness said.

More information about the Big Build, including details on how to apply for the tax rebate program, can be found at bigbuildotc.com. Applications to the tax rebate program must be submitted before construction begins.