Tuesday, November 20 2018
Businesses ready to expand need look no further than the center of America’s heartland. With 22 development-ready locations and nine other sites working toward designation, companies can more easily find the right option for their needs, on an accelerated timeline thanks to the Iowa Certified Site Program.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) rolled out the Iowa Certified Site Program in 2012 to ensure the state has a strong portfolio of project-ready industrial sites. Unlike some states who certify shovel-ready sites by their own criteria (which can vary widely from state to state), Iowa’s certification program uses nationally recognized standards and an independent, third-party site selection firm, Quest Site Solutions.
Quality Over Quantity
While the number of certified sites in Iowa is growing, the state emphasizes that having the most certified sites is not the goal. “We’re using the most robust certification program in the country,” said Amy Kuhlers, IEDA’s Certified Site Program manager. “Our focus on quality, not quantity, is driving the program’s success.”
Keeping Pace with Today’s Business Decisions
“Companies exploring expansions or new operations often do not have the luxury of dedicating substantial amounts of time to the site location process,” said IEDA Director Debi Durham. “That’s why this program makes Iowa a great option — having a site where all the development questions have been asked and answered demonstrates the community is open for business and prepared to welcome new investment.”
Case Study: Norwalk, Iowa
Michael Foods, a $2 billion manufacturer and distributor of foodservice, food ingredient and retail offerings and the nation’s largest processor of value-added eggs, selected Norwalk earlier this year for a new regional manufacturing and distribution facility. The company is in the process of building a 143,000-square-foot plant with a total capital investment to exceed $85 million. The project will create 168 new jobs in the community of 12,000 people.
Woodward Becomes Iowa’s First Green Certified Site
In August of this year, the IEDA announced the first site to receive green certification. The Woodward Eco Business Park is a pilot project and the first of its kind designed to meet the unique needs of companies looking to reduce their environmental impact. The park is approximately 190 acres and is now available for business development.
The Green Business Park category is designed for multiple users and ancillary park activities and must adhere to the following criteria:
“Adhering to environmentally friendly principles is becoming increasingly important to business and industry,” Director Durham said. “We designed the green certification criteria to meet the needs of companies as we attract new investment and proactively offer infrastructure that promotes sustainability.”
Cherokee Attains Certification
“The certification process is rigorous. We worked toward this designation for about 18 months,” said Bill Anderson, executive director of Cherokee Area Economic Development Corp. “Having the certified site will be helpful in attracting new businesses and residents to Cherokee. We look forward to using this as a tool to grow the economy in the City of Cherokee as well as throughout Cherokee County.”
Low operational costs and a pro-business environment make Iowa the perfect choice to start and expand a business. Iowa has lower rental and construction costs than the national average, lower payroll costs, lower workers’ compensation costs and lower utility costs. It’s why global tech leaders, such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have invested billions over the last several years to expand in Iowa.
Additionally, Iowa offers companies skilled, smart, efficient workers. The state has ramped up its STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education in public schools and made it easier for businesses to collaborate with students. Iowa also has increased its focus on technical trade skills at its network of community colleges — where curriculum aligns with the needs of business.
Attracting Large Projects
Iowa’s certified sites are located across the state in a variety of locations with unique characteristics defining each one. For a comprehensive list of available sites as well as more information about the program, visit iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/CertifiedSites.
Visit https://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/iowa_ed for local economic development office directory listings.