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.