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Ag Expo Center takes a step forward

By Staff | Nov 28, 2015

SIOUX CITY’S Ag Expo Center facilities await pending funding while supporters eye a hopeful March 2016 plan completion.

SIOUX CITY – The Ag Expo Center remains on the Sioux City drawing board awaiting final funding agreements.

However, Marty Dougherty, Sioux City’s director of economic development, said the city council’s Nov. 16 approval of the project is not a definite go-ahead.

Even so, he said, supporters remain hopeful of its eventual reality.

The Ag Expo Center is planned to be built near the former John Morrell plant, west of the stockyards and east of Interstate 29.

Dennis Gann, Ag Expo and Learning Center Board member, said he sees the center providing ag-related events, drawing attendees from a five-state area.

“We see it filling a gap in the quality of life events to be performed in Woodbury (County),” Gann said, “and it has been needed for quite some time to celebrate and honor the agriculture industry as a whole.

“We also see it as a strong economic benefit for the community.”

Gann was referring to the project initially designed as an addition to the Woodbury County fairgrounds in Moville.

Included in the Ag Expo Center’s 180,000-square foot campus are ag retail businesses, Sioux City Stockyards, an agricultural museum and a potential long-range Western Iowa Tech Community College veterinary science center.

“The financing and construction budget are the major challenges at this point,” Gann said. “If public support from the city, state and county is realized, however, we are sure additional private sector funding will be available, with our total project plan completed by March 2016.”

Following the council’s Nov. 16 action, Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott said the city was supportive of the project.

“We’re hopeful it (pending funding approvals) will come together with private contributions also forthcoming,” he said. “Overall, feedback we’ve been getting is pretty good.”

Sioux City has committed $2 million, along with 12 acres of property near the old Morrell plant.

The hoped-for funding is dependent on a pledge of an additional $2 million from Woodbury County and another $1 million from the non-profit Missouri River Historical Development.

Additional funding also hinges on $8.03 million in Iowa Economic Development Authority Board funds for the center, a new upscale hotel near the Sioux City Convention Center, and Ho-Chunk Inc. redevelopment of three Virginia Street industrial buildings.

Woodbury County Supervisor Mark Munson said the board is not expected to discuss the project anytime soon, adding the MRHD funding timetable is unclear.

Project proponent Gene Leman, of Dakota Dunes, in Sioux City, meanwhile, said he’s optimistic of the project’s completion.

“This will be a venue where local, state and area agriculture can gather and celebrate their accomplishments,” Leman said, “to construct a facility that will add to the pride and beauty of Sioux City and attract agriculture and livestock interests.”

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