NEW ULM — The new Minnesota National Guard Field Maintenance Shop (FMS) hosted a special ribbon-cutting ceremony in New Ulm Thursday.
The facility is 31,000 square feet, with 25,000 square feet reserved for 10 service bays, wash bays and storage. An additional 6,400 square feet are used for classroom and office space. The Maintenance Facility is intended to replace the former FMS on the south end of New Ulm.
“The new maintenance facility in New Ulm marks a point of recommitment for both the Minnesota National Guard and the City of New Ulm,” Army Lt. Col. Mark Gile, Commander of the 1-125th Field Artillery Regiment. “This facility brings new capabilities and doubles our current facility’s size, adding jobs for our Guard members from this city and the area. From track to wheeled vehicles, the New Ulm Army Field Maintenance Shop will be responsible for supporting units in southwest Minnesota from Highway 169 west to South Dakota.”
Following a ribbon cutting, members of the New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce Willkommen Committee were able to tour the new facility with representatives of Donlar Construction. Project architect Andrew Coopers said the main purpose of the new FMS is for maintaining vehicles, but it was built with people in mind. He said the overall design was is relatively simple. The building is divided between office and maintenance space.
The FMS is the most state-of-the-art maintenance shop in the state. Heating systems on the floor will keep mechanics warm while making repairs in the winter. A rainwater collection system can recycle water for use in cleaning vehicles. A solar array on the roof provides sufficient power to the facility on sunny days. A backup generator can power the facility in the event of an outage.
The completion of the FMS is the first phase of the National Guard’s updates in New Ulm. The second phase will be the creation of a new National Guard Readiness Center adjacent to the FMS that will bring new capabilities to the New Ulm-based battalion. The new Readiness Center will replace the century-old, fortress-like New Ulm Armory on N. Broadway. The new Readiness Center is scheduled to be completed in 2025.
The creation of the new FMS and Readiness Center will allow a greater number of National Guard members to work in New Ulm. The FMS can support 31 National Guard positions at full capacity.
Currently, 100 soldiers drill monthly at the New Ulm Armory. With the completion of a new Readiness Center in 2025, the number could triple with other Minnesota National Guard units transferring to New Ulm.