CHEDA agrees to lend the Wagners the money to pay for a consultant up to $4,000 a month for up to 16 months.

As Adam and Tim Wagner continue to work toward moving their five-year-old Vertical Malt business out of Valley Technology Park and into a yet-to-be-built facility on seven acres on Crookston’s south end, they’ve sought the expertise of a consultant well-schooled in the malting business to help guide their way.

And the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Board of Directors has agreed to cover the consultant’s fees up front, with a financial cap of $4,000 per month and a maximum time frame of 16 months. The money will come from dollars left in a fund that Crookston Jobs, Inc. passed onto CHEDA when it dissolved a couple years ago. The financial support will be in the form of a loan with a to-be-determined payment schedule and an interest rate to be determined as well. Vertical Malt was given a $100,000 CHEDA loan in 2017 and has never missed a payment, Hoiseth noted.During the time that CHEDA is covering the consultant costs, Adam Wagner will be required to provide regular updates to Hoiseth and/or his board on the progress being made.

With their home-base farm operation in Fisher, Adam and his dad, Tim Wagner started Vertical Malt in a single bay in the rear of VTP. Now they operate in all three rear bays in the facility and are still feeling a space pinch as the popularity of their barley and the variety of malted barleys they create continues to grow.

“Adam is working hard every day making malt and keeping customers happy, and he wishes he could make more malt,” Hoiseth said, indicating that the Wagners are likely too busy to get to where they want to go in a reasonable amount of time without the help of a consultant. “They want to move their business forward with more jobs, more real estate property values and not an ongoing lease at Valley Tech. They think they’ve come up with a good plan to bring in a consultant to bring the business to the next level and move forward over the next 16 to 18 months. Funding the consultant is their question.”

In addition to providing consistent updates, a “milestone chart” will be monitored and updated as the Wagners and their consultant, Robert Leidl, work through the process. “We want to make them accountable,” Hoiseth said. “They’ve been working with this guy quite a bit and he’s pretty well renowned in the industry in general,” he explained. “(The Wagners) have given him some token money to do some consulting, but they need to move past advising into actual doing.”