The state department of economic development handed out grants Thursday for local projects chosen to receive funds from the agency and the Iowa Values Fund. Economic Development Director Michael Blouin says the creators of 17 projects learned they’d been chosen. Seventeen businesses in communities from Bettendorf to Clinton to Carter Lake to Fort Dodge, Dyersville, Cedar Falls, Peosta and Des Moines that he says will retain or create more than 1,900 jobs, with a capital investment of more than 100-Million dollars. When added to the other grants of the Iowa Values and economic-development boards, Blouin says it totals more than 120 projects since the Iowa Values fund was created, creating or retaining 9,800 jobs with capital investment over 1.3 Billion dollars. Blouin says Iowa’s building momentum and he thinks there are thousands more jobs to come from local development projects. Blue Ridge Paper Products in Clinton got a grant for its plan to create 46 new jobs that’ll pay wages a dollar higher than average in the county. He mentions Fort Dodge Animal Labs, which was a fixture in bio-tech and life science for years before those terms were even coined, has agreed to build a “major distribution center” which will be good for the area’s workforce as well as a further anchor for the research lab as well as manufacturing in north-central Iowa. Fort Dodge Labs came up with a vaccine against West Nile virus in recent years. Blouin says there’s no problem finding deserving plans to help along with grants from the state’s economic-development board and the Iowa Values Fund, which was just created last year. In January of 2003 he says there were 51 prospects and now there are 332, with the state positioning itself to be “a major force” for years to come.
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