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Hoping for expansion at ag park

By Staff | Apr 21, 2016

FORT DODGE – Expansion may be coming soon at the ag park west of Fort Dodge.

Representatives of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance met with the Webster County Board of Supervisors Monday morning to discuss how to encourage growth at the park called Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

According to the meeting agenda, the plan was to discuss potential incentives for a new project at CJ Bio America, a company that makes the amino acid lysine and liquid fertilizer.

There weren’t many details discussed at this point, said Supervisor Bob Singer.

“CJ has been talking about expanding their facility somewhat. They’ve been courting a company to sell a new product to,” Singer said.

“The Alliance was wanting to know if we would extend to them same kinds of benefits – tax incentives, we would other companies,” he added.

Of course the county would support that, Singer said.

“We reaffirmed to the Growth Alliance what our past practice with incentives for industrial additions in our ag park would be,” Supervisor Clark Fletcher said. “And that is a rebate structure on a sliding scale of implementation, for a five-year period.

“We told them we’d want to stay with the same type of thing we do for other existing businesses that have done expansions – nothing more, nothing less.”

As an example, Singer explained how the state reinvested tax dollars when CJ Bio first came to the area. A portion of the company’s state taxes were used to endorse a program at Iowa Central Community College for CJ employees.

The county has previously used tax increment financing to encourage development at the ag park. Until recently the county was rebating income tax back to companies including CJ Bio America and Cargill, as part of the development agreement.

Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the GFDGA, said the meeting was to talk about incentives for any company.

Plautz said the alliance’s Economic Development Director Kelly Halsted “wanted to have a discussion with them about generally potential incentives there for companies that might be partners with Cargill or CJ – or stand-alones.”

Halsted will attend the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology starting Monday in San Diego.

“I expect to meet with a dozen companies,” Halsted said. “Most know where Fort Dodge is and what we have to offer; it’s just reinforcing our relationship.”

Halsted attends three or four of these conferences every year, targeted specifically at groups that could use something Fort Dodge has to offer, Plautz said.

“We’ll be on the advertising and in a booth, and setting up one-on-one appointments with the Iowa Economic Development Authority” at the conference, he said. “That’s how we spend some of our operating funds, in terms of marketing – to try to match up clients with what we have to offer, whether it’s the park, or companies, or facilities.

“For example, with Argenta going into the Fort Dodge Animal Health Riverside facility.”

Supervisor Mark Campbell echoed the need for guidelines.

“We want a policy in place so when any company comes to present to us, we have a matrix or something in place so we’re fair and equitable with everybody,” Campbell said.

“That way (Halsted) has the tools in place when she wants to sit down with a business and offer them something to come here.”

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