Working Together Comes Naturally in Shoreview
19 Aug 2020
The 2020 COVID-19 crisis has been a narrative of local communities and businesses learning to adapt to unprecedented change. Part of that narrative has been getting federal assistance to those businesses to keep employees at work. But for many, as production orders have decreased, little work has actually been left to be done. In Shoreview, Minnesota, a wonderful collaboration between Mead Metals, Inc. and the city has helped keep Mead’s employees working while filling a significant need for the city.
“This is really the best type of story that could come out of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Shoreview Mayor Sandy Martin. “This is something we can all celebrate.”
The city has sought to ensure a wide-variety of residential choices, including affordable housing, is available. As part of the city’s comprehensive plan, it hoped to preserve or increase affordable housing options in the community. In late 2019, the city purchased a residential property offered for sale by the owner, as part of a long-term plan to acquire several parcels of land for a future expansion of an adjacent park. Since the other residential parcels may not be on the market for purchase for many years, the city had a choice of either tearing down the newly acquired house or re-purpose it for use as an affordable family rental home. But to do so, the older house would need to be brought up to code and renovated.
“Given the costs associated with the necessary upgrades to the house, we needed to explore grants and other partnerships that could offset some of the expenses if we were going to make the home available and affordable for a deserving family,” said Martin.
Helping the community
At the same time, Mead Metals found itself with a need of its own. As a metal service center in Shoreview specializing in narrow width slitting of high-quality, small volume, specialty metals, it had been deemed an essential business. The company applied for and received funding as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Company officials used the funding to keep their employees working, but business orders had dropped 50% for the month of May. After quickly finishing projects focused on their own facility beautification, they were looking for more. Mead President Sandy Crawford said everyone with the company wanted to do something for Shoreview.
“We know our community well and want to help locally whenever we can,” she said. “For example, we know there are homeless people in our community that need our help.”
Crawford said such a project resonated with her employees, but she was worried they would not be able to find a project quick enough to match with their availability. After reaching out to Martin, they were able to put together a framework for the project in just a few weeks.
The result involved four Mead employees spending over 200 hours of volunteer work at the housing site. The employees gutted the kitchen, removed flooring and removed the garage, shed and several trees. Over half of Mead’s staff volunteered to participate, but the group settled on four employees to ensure proper social distancing. Their work saved the city over $20,000. In addition, the city can now enlist a contractor to complete renovations.
“The four employees managed the entire project,” said Crawford. “It was so heartening to see them enjoying the work, staying busy and helping their community.”
The project has been a model of how local businesses involvement is important to a community. Crawford said throughout all of Mead’s interactions with the city, Shoreview’s administration has consistently displayed a focus on serving its residents and businesses.
“Thanks in part to a great relationship with the city, we were strong before COVID-19 and now the assistance we received is getting us through so we can plan to be strong coming out of it,” she said. “And when we are able to get back to what we had before, we know the city will be there for us.”
And while there was healthy respect between the entities prior to this project, Martin said the help Mead provided was unbelievable.
“I have the utmost respect for everyone at Mead Metals,” she said. “From the leadership to the guys who gave so much of themselves at the site, they all went way beyond what was necessary and we are so proud to have them in our community.”
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