Three local businesses kicked off the Owatonna Public Schools' school board work session on Monday, December 3, which included Viracon, Wenger Corporation, and Federated Insurance. Each local business expressed their love for Owatonna and the need to attract and retain quality employees. The business CEOs conveyed to the board their support for a new high school. They each offered generous financial support.
Kelly Schuller, President of Viracon
Mr. Schuller announced that Viracon will provide all the glass needed for a new high school at cost and at no profit to the organization. “You have my emotional support, but we’d also like to be a part of this project,” stated Schuller.
Chris Simpson, Chief Executive Officer and President of Wenger Corporation
Mr. Simpson announced that Wenger Corporation would also be providing support with the acoustic, stage and storage solutions for a new high school. Where an exact cost cannot be given without a high school design, Mr. Simpson noted that the gift would be well into the seven digits. “Reality is when I bring in talent and potential employees to look at our facility, they are also looking at the community and schools. We need to have a high school that is a 21st-century building to help us attract new employees and also to retain the employees we have,” stated Simpson.
Jeff Fetters, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Federated Insurance
Mr. Fetters announced that Federated Insurance would be gifting the school district with $20 million towards a new high school. Mr. Fetters stated, “We’re all on the same team as a business standpoint [referring to Schuller and Simpson]. Owatonna is home to Federated and we rely on this community and the school system to continue to hire quality employees. I’m also a steward on Owatonna Forward, and I saw the community rally in support for a new high school. The community surveys in every community input meeting listed a new high school as a top priority. Every one of them. Not one or two, every one of them and there were lots of them. The community is ready. The business leaders are ready. Federated is ready, and it is time to build a new state of the art high school in Owatonna…. Federated believes this must be an investment that this city must be willing to make for the future of our city, community and certainly our children.”
School board Chairman, Mark Sebring expressed his gratitude towards the local business leaders by stating, “On behalf of current and future generations of Owatonna High School students - thank you. On behalf of the teachers, the staff, the administrators, the community and the school board - thank you. There has always been a heritage of business and community leadership started by the names Martineau, Wenger and Buxton. Today, we sincerely appreciate the continuation of this profound leadership that the names Simpson, Schuller and Fetters bring to these revered organizations. Your voice, leadership and demonstration of financial support for the future of our students speaks volumes to our Owatonna pride.”