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ISA moves into $7.4 million facility

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

The entrance of the new Iowa Soybean Association building, which opened Monday, was build to resemble a grain bin.

ANKENY – Nestled prominently in a new development called Prairie Trail on the southern edge of Ankeny, the Iowa Soybean Association’s $7.4 million new headquarters is open for business. An official grand opening and open house is scheduled for Dec. 10.

ISA staff moved into the building, from the former site in Urbandale, over the weekend and opened the doors officially on Monday, just in time to host ag industry representatives in Taiwan on a goodwill trade mission, who signed letters of intent to purchase U.S. soybeans and corn over the next two years. (See related story on this page.)

Kirk Leeds, ISA’s chief executive officer, noted the building sits on the former grounds of Iowa State University’s research dairy farm. “The trade delegation,” he said, “was somewhat of a surprise. It’s a busy way to open a new building.”

The new facility gives the staff double the room it had in Urbandale, going from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. The building was designed with future growth and expansion in mind. “The board determined that it would be cheaper to build the space now, than add on later,” Leeds said.

ISA self-financed the entire project, Leeds added with pride, “And we expect to be debt-free in about a year.”

Working to set up the recording studio in ISA’s new headquarters in Ankeny is Chris Plum, Heresy Audio Video LLC, of Leon.

Leeds said that ISA’s growth is due to the development of its programs.

ISA’s OnFarm Network, for instance, is now conducting hundreds of research projects with farmers. Environmental projects are also expanding, plus the development of The Soyfoods Center, and expanded transportation efforts.

Leeds, now in his 20th year with ISA, said that this was the third time the ISA board had studied building a new facility. The three acres the facility sits upon was donated by Dennis Albaugh, owner of DRA Properties, Prairie Trails’ developer, and by Harry Stine, of Stine Seeds. Moving into its new center ended a 45-year lease that ISA had in Urbandale, Leeds said.

“We had outstanding competitive bids,” Leeds added, “and we moved in on time and on budget.” He said groundbreaking took place roughly a year ago.

ISA’s new headquarters features a unique entrance that looks like a grain bin. “Although it looks like a grain bin,” Leeds said, “it’s really not. It’s not the same metal as a grain bin, which would discolor in time.” He laughed when he added that it was estimated the foyer would hold 55,000 bushels of soybeans if it were to be filled.

Heath Ellison, agricultural environmental specialist for ISA, looks over gauges which are part of the de-ionization unit in the facility’s new water lab.

The exterior walls have soy-foam insulation. There is soy-backed carpeting in some areas. The building is heated and cooled with a geothermal system, that features 70 wells. It is virtually an all-electric building.

The 16-foot, three-dimensional mural in the foyer was done by local artist Tom Moburg. The facility also has its own recording studio as ISA expands into podcasts and holding webinars from its facility.

Has own water lab

In the lower level, the headquarters building has a new water testing lab. ISA’s environmental teams work in partnership with the Des Moines Water Works, explained Heath Ellison, an agricultural environmental specialist.

From April to August,” Ellison said, ISA staff pulls 128 water samples from the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds. In addition, they pull samples from selected tile outlets throughout both watersheds.

By having their own testing equipment on site, Ellison said, “Our hope to be more timely (with results) and to expand our services for Des Moines Water Works.”

Leeds noted that having the ability to test and evaluate the water quality results from various projects designed to reduce nitrogen runoff from farm fields, ISA will have a bigger presence at the policy tables because it’ll have the numbers to prove what is being accomplished through the cooperation of producers.

ISA President Delbert Christensen from Audubon is looking forward to not only the space, but also the technology in the building.

“We now have the ability to hold board meetings and board functions in our own building,” Christensen says. “I’m interested to see how the water lab will work and the results we’ll obtain from that.

“Also, the sound studio will be advantageous for publicity and getting the word out there about ISA.”

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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