Iowa is One of 19 States Leading a Manufacturing Resurgence in the U.S.

Iowa’s $27.6 billion advanced manufacturing industry is the state’s largest single business sector — with more than 6,000 manufacturers operating 6,400 factories, employing 200,000 workers, and generating more than 18 percent of Iowa’s total gross state product (GSP) in 2011, according to NAM. During the past decade Iowa’s manufacturing GSP has grown at an impressive inflation-adjusted rate of 9.2 percent.
Leading industries include industrial metal processing, automation precision machinery, environment control systems, digital and electronic devices, and power generation equipment. Other top sectors are aerospace and defense, industrial chemicals, construction components, commercial and industrial motor vehicles, food ingredients, printing and packaging, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices and products.

“Iowa’s economy is very strong, thanks in large part to the success of the advanced manufacturing industry in our state,” says Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. “It’s obvious that we have the right tools in place to attract and grow manufacturing companies. From our logistics advantages to our highly productive work force, Iowa has a proven track record in helping manufacturers succeed.”

That includes Egypt-based Orascom Construction Industries, which recently announced its decision to build a new $1.4 billion facility in Lee County, which will reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fertilizers (the U.S. imports over half of the ammonia, urea, and urea ammonium nitrate [UAN] it consumes every year). It will be the first world-scale natural-gas-based fertilizer plant built in the United States in nearly 25 years. The plant will utilize proven state-of-the-art production process technologies and is expected to produce over a million tons of ammonia, urea, and UAN annually. State incentives for the project totaled about $100 million.

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Site Selection Magazine names Burlington No. 30 on a list of top micropolitans with 4 large economic projects.

Burlington among top U.S. Micropolitans

Burlington Hawk Eye

The Burlington/West Burlington area tied at No. 30 on a list of top micropolitans in the nation for the nation for the number of large business projects started in 2012.

The top 100 micropolitans were revealed in the March issue of Site Selection magazine.  The research was conducted by Conway Data Inc., which worked with state economic development to collect the information.

A micropolitan largely is a rural county with an urban core such as Burlington/West Burlington where the population falls between 10,000 and 49,999 residents.  A business project had to meet some but not all of the following criteria in order to be credited to a micropolitan’s tally: at least $1 million in investment, square footage added to a building, 50 jobs created and/or real estate was purchased for an expansion or construction of a new building.

The Burlington area- the top Iowa micropolitan on the list- had four projects in 2012 that met the criteria.  The projects that qualified were:

The $1.4 billion Iowa Fertilizer Co. plant south of Wever, which will create 165 permeant jobs.  Egyptian-based Orascom Construction Industries purchased 300 acres along 180th Avenue for the facility.

Winegard Co.’s $25.8 million expansion into Fairway Center in Burlington. The facility with the former Montgomery Ward building as the nucleus, is expected to create about 70 jobs.

KPI Concepts’ $1 million expansion onto the north side of its existing facility at 1415 W. Mount Pleasant St. in West Burlington.  The project added 35,000 square feet to the plant, plus added about 22 new jobs.

The shell building in the Flint Ridge Business Park was sold by the Greater Burlington Partnership for $1 million to Rod Wittkamp’s company, Industrial Service Corp.  The expansion of Wittkamp’s business was expected to create a few jobs.

“I was thrilled,” said Jason Hutcheson, CEO and president of the Greater Burlington Partnership, upon hearing the news of the Burlington area making the list. “My first thought is this community should embrace it and promote it. It gives some validation that momentum is in the right direction.”

Burlington tied for 30th place with 14 other micropolitans, the nearest one being Paducah, KY. The only other Iowa micropolitans on the list were Fort Dodge and Spirit Lake with three projects each and tied for 45th place.

The nation’s top micropolitan was Statesville-Mooresville, N.C., which had 20 projects.

Hutcheson plans to use the honor as a way of branding the Burlington metro area to site selectors and companies. Burlington’s top 30 ranking will be notated on the Greater Burlington Partnership’s marketing materials and prospective packets.

Hutcheson will start boasting about Burlington’s honor this week as he calls on site selectors and companies Wednesday through Friday in Charlotte, N.C.

“We have some projects possible this year,” Hutcheson said of getting a start on the 2013 list.

Iowa fared well in the top metropolitan lists as well in Site Selection magazine. Sioux City was the No. 1 metropolitan with a population fewer than 200,000 with 23 projects. Dubuque tied for the No. 5 spot with 10 projects.

In metropolitan areas with populations between 200,000 and 1 million, the Omaha/Council Bluffs area was No. 3 with 38 projects.

In other news, Hutcheson has begun the search for a new director of economic development for the Greater Burlington Partnership. Rob Harrington, the former director, left on good terms in February.

“We are still in the process of casting the net,” Hutcheson said of the search.

Ploeger Recruiting Services of Burlington is helping GBP find qualified candidates. Hutcheson expects the interview process to start soon.

Burlington Hawkeye: Branstad criticizes IFC naysayers during Fort Madison town hall


From the Burlington Hawkeye:

“It’s hard to imagine that you would have people that would criticize this incredible opportunity, but the usual naysayers have had their share of say already,” Branstad told a crowd of more than 75. “They think it’s all about politics. We know it’s all about jobs.”

Several speakers noted Lee County had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, as of December when the most recent figures are available. Beyond the local jobs, Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the plant will save Iowa farmers $740 million a year in fertilizer costs.”