Karen Thingelstad calls Minnkota Power Cooperative's new headquarters in Grand Forks enlightening, literally.
"There is so much natural light that comes into this building compared to our other one," the vice president and CEO for the nonprofit electric generation and transmission cooperative said.
Last month, about 220 employees finished moving into the 252,000-square-foot building at 5301 32nd Ave. S., and the cooperative that provides wholesale electricity to electricity providers in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 21.
The budget for the project was $65 million, but Thingelstad said the facility is wrapping up under budget. All that's left is to finish a cold-storage building, which should be completed soon.
The move marks the end of an era for the original headquarters at 1822 Mill Road. The 113,760-square-foot building that served the company since it was founded in 1940 was put up for sale in 2016 ahead of the big move, which began late last year.
There have been several additions to the Mill Road property, which blocked off light to one-window offices.
The new headquarters allows Minnkota to be more efficient, Thingelstad said. The new facility focuses on bringing in natural light into almost every part of the building—large windows line the exterior walls and ceilings, and cubicles have glass tops to allow light to pass through them.
"We had a lot of people working in spaces with no natural light at all," Thingelstad said. "That was one of the things we looked at when building this building, is how can we bring light to all of our people."
The facility also features heated storage for large equipment, training space and a meeting hall that can seat all of the cooperative's employees—features the old headquarters lacked. TV screens are set up in each section of the building to keep employees up to date on company news, energy produced and meetings.
It's a way to improve communication across the board, Thingelstad said.
The facility also pays homage to the electrical industry and the company's history. Replicas of the company's laminated wood utility poles can be spotted in the lobby area, light bulbs reminiscent of the early days of electricity can be found throughout the facility and a hallway in the public area shows a timeline of the cooperative.
"To be able to bring that in was important to us," she said. "It was important for us to have a nice space but still be who we are as an industry."
Other features include motion sensors, LED lighting and geothermal heating, among others
The company still plans to sell the building, and says there have been several interested parties. Minnkota spent its whole life at the Mill Road location, Thingelstad said, and the company wanted to make sure the new building can serve its employees and customers for another 75 years or more.
"It's a big investment in the community," Minnkota spokesman Kevin Fee said.
Minnkota has roughly 400 employees. Those who are not stationed in Grand Forks are located in Center, N.D., near the Milton R. Young Station, a coal-powered plant that provides electricity to Minnkota.