State Grants $740K To Startup That’s Adding Jobs In Hastings

HexFuel plans to have 150 employees at a new Hastings plant and might double that headcount within several years.

Maplewood-based startup HexFuel has landed a $740,000 state grant to help fund the company’s plans for a manufacturing facility in Hastings.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced the award from the new Minnesota Job Creation Fund on Thursday.

HexFuel’s BoostBox product is designed to improve the performance of diesel engines. The company does not yet have operations in Hastings, but is planning to renovate a building at 1101 Spiral Boulevard for its manufacturing facility. The property, a former lumberyard, has been vacant for a few years.

According to DEED, the company is planning to employ 150 people within three years and could have as many as 300 employees within five years. The company is investing $10 million in the project.

Under the guidelines of the Job Creation Fund, companies can receive up to $1 million provided that they create at least 10 full-time jobs and invest at least $500,000.

“There’s a number of factors that go into determining how much a company will receive,” DEED spokeswoman Madeline Koch told Twin Cities Business. Koch said that the state considers the program a “rebate” program. Companies don’t receive the money from the state until they have met job creation requirements.

Last week, DEED announced the first five grants totaling $2.27 million from the $24 million Job Creation Fund. HexFuel is the sixth company to be awarded funding from the program, which was approved in the 2013 legislative session.

Koch said that the state has now awarded just over $3 million through the program to six companies that will leverage $50.2 million in private investment and create approximately 540 jobs.

On Thursday morning, HexFuel CEO David Ault could not immediately be reached for comment. According to DEED’s announcement, Ault led a group of investors that acquired the BoostBox technology about 18 months ago. The company has a manufacturing facility in Utah that employs 25 people.

HexFuel’s plans are welcome news in Hastings, where HexFuel would fill a vacancy in the Hastings Business Industrial Park.

“This is just going to be a wonderful addition to the park,” John Hinzman, community development director for the city of Hastings, said in a Thursday phone interview. Hinzman said the city first talked to HexFuel about a year ago, but that discussions had picked up in the last few months.

Hinzman said that the city owns 35 acres of vacant land adjacent to the HexFuel site. If the company grows, the city could sell that land to HexFuel for $1 an acre through a city program to encourage business development.

“They’ve indicated a desire for future expansion,” Hinzman said.