Economic Development director Debbi Durham

Economic Development Authority director Debbi Durham with Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds.

Six more Iowa cities have secured “development ready” status for tracts of land designated for business expansion or new business locations. Governor Terry Branstad says the competition for job creation projects “is steep.”

“It is essential that Iowa looks for every possible advantage and that’s what today’s announcement is all about,” Branstad says, “putting Iowa’s locations at the top of the list.”

Officials from Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Norwalk, Perry and Mason City joined Branstad at a statehouse news conference to tout the new designations. Chad Schreck, the president of the North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Project, was there. He says it was an “arduous process” that took nearly two years to complete.

“It’s a lot of paper work. It’s a lot of studies. . You’re doing engineering work. You’re going architectural, archaeological, environmental,” Schreck says. “You’ve got all these different things that take a lot of steps, a lot of consultants, a lot of money and time.”

Mason City spent about $50,000 to ensure the 175 acre site was “shovel ready” for light industrial use and Schreck says they’ve already had some interest.

“We’ve had some different projects we’ve been working on with site selectors and we’ve said, ‘Oh and, by the way, we have a certified site,’ and they, ‘Really.’ They want to get out there and see it,” Schreck says. “They know what it means. It’s important to them. We get a lot of two-week time tables and they want to know all this information and we’ve got it. We can just pull it out. ‘Here you go.’ And that’s it and not many people can do that.”

Officials in Sioux City also spent the past couple of years with the same checklist to establish a “project-ready” site and in May developers picked that site as the place where they’ll build a new, $264 million pork processing plant that will employ over a thousand people. Iowa Economic Development Authority director Debi Durham called that a “site perfect” project.

“Large-scale projects can be risky for companies to undertake,” Durham said, “so it is a critical advantage when an Iowa site can mitigate those risks on the front end.”

Last year, sites in Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Dexter and Van Meter won “project ready” status, but none have landed a project yet.

AUDIO of Branstad’s weekly news conference, where today’s announcement was made, 32:00