The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board today denied more than $1.5 million in proposed incentives for a company that’s planning to build a $27 million grain terminal near Fairfield. The action follows opposition to the Heartland Co-op project raised by a Jefferson County community group called AHEAD-Iowa.
The group’s president is Terry Smith, who says Heartland will build the terminal even without the state’s help. “It’s really puzzling that this is even an issue…it just looks like, ‘if we ask for (state incentives) and we get it, fine, if not, we’ll continue.’ I don’t think that’s the purpose of this grant, in my opinion,” Smith said.
Heartland has already started construction on the project. Jim Larew, an attorney representing AHEAD-Iowa, argued the IEDA would be breaking its own rules if the board awarded state money to Heartland. “The rules say those projects…that are initiated before the board has a chance to approve (financing) are presumed to be sufficiently economically viable not to need the assistance that is here,” Larew said. The IEDA Board voted unanimously to reject the incentives.
The project by Heartland Co-op is expected to create at least five new jobs and supporters believe it will lead to additional projects in the area. Adam Plagge, executive director of the Fairfield Economic Development Association, felt the Heartland project deserved state taxpayer support. “It’s disappointing,” Plagge said of the IEDA decision. “I think it’s a great project that Heartland is proposing here and it will give a substantial benefit to local farmers and producers and I think it will attract other economic development in its wake.”
Opponents of the $1.5 million in state incentives argued the taxpayer support was excessive for the creation of just five jobs. “I think the argument for this project has never really been about the five jobs,” Plagge said. “The argument is we’re going to be reducing costs for local producers.”
The IEDA Board did approve incentives for four other companies across the state. Cloverleaf Cold Storage will receive $400,000 in tax credits to move the headquarters of its refrigerated warehouse company to downtown Sioux City, according to IEDA spokesperson Tina Hoffman. The project is expected to create nine jobs and retain 23 more. “This award helps ensure that the headquarters location stays in Sioux City,” Hoffman said.
New Heaven Chemicals is getting just over $400,000 from the state to help open its first U.S. location in northern Iowa’s Worth County. Hoffman said the project will create 16 new jobs in the town of Manly. The renovation of American Republic Insurance Company’s headquarters in downtown Des Moines is getting $2.5 million in incentives from the IEDA. That $27.2 million project is expected to create 146 jobs.
The IEDA Board also awarded $26,200 in incentives to CPM Acquisition Corporation in Waterloo for the reconstruction of a test center.